Gastritis is a condition where the stomach lining becomes inflamed.
Diet plays an important role in managing gastritis as well as reducing or preventing its associated adverse side effects.
This article explains what to eat and avoid with gastritis and provides a sample 3-day gastritis diet menu.
What is gastritis?
The inner surface of the stomach is lined by a mucous membrane called the gastric mucosa.
The gastric mucosa protects the stomach wall from acid, digestive enzymes, and harmful organisms that can damage it and cause health problems.
However, if this protective lining becomes irritated or damaged, it can become inflamed, leading to gastritis.
Gastritis is generally acute or short-term, but it can become chronic if it’s left untreated.
The symptoms of gastritis aren’t always apparent but may include (1):
- stomach pain
- feeling full
- excessive gas
A Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection in childhood is the most common cause of gastritis worldwide, occurring in 90% of cases (2).
H. pylori is a common type of bacteria that grows in the digestive tract and commonly attacks the stomach lining (3).
Over 50% of the global population is infected with H. pylori and therefore likely experiences gastritis at some point (4).
Gastritis may also be caused by other types of organisms or from chronic tobacco smoking, consumption of alcohol, or use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The risk of developing gastritis generally increases with age.
Left untreated, gastritis can eventually lead to ulcers and in severe cases, stomach cancer (2).
The treatment for gastritis depends largely on its cause but diet plays an important role in its management.
A gastritis diet focuses on limiting gastritis symptoms and ensuring the adequate intake of nutrients in which you may become deficient.
It’s unlikely that diet can cure gastritis but it can help you better manage any symptoms you may be experiencing and reduce the risk of associated health complications.
Foods to limit or avoid
Gastritis affects everyone differently, but you may notice that certain foods make your symptoms worse.
Foods that may trigger symptoms include:
- Spicy foods and condiments: dishes and condiments made with hot peppers, such as cayenne, chili, habanero, and jalapeños peppers
- Citrus fruits: grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, tangerines
- Fried foods: chicken strips, cheese sticks, doughnuts, french fries, onion rings, etc.
- Caffeine: coffee, energy drinks, tea
- Other items: alcohol, chocolate, tomato juice, soda
These foods may also be triggers for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that occurs when your stomach contents back up to your esophagus
This reflux causes a burning sensation in your chest — known as heartburn — and may leave you with a sour or bitter taste in your mouth.
In addition to the foods that may trigger symptoms, you should also limit your consumption of meats that have been preserved by smoking, salting, curing, or drying as they can increase your risk for stomach cancer (5).
Examples of processed meats include:
- hot dogs
- cured bacon
- corned beef
- beef jerky
- deli meats
Processed meats tend to be rich in sodium, another nutrient you should limit since high intakes have been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer (6).
Other foods high in sodium to limit include:
- frozen meals
- canned entrees
- salty snacks
- canned items
- pickled foods
- boxed pasta and rice
- baking mixes
Foods to eat
Gastritis can decrease stomach acid production, which can impair the absorption of many essential vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc (1).
This means you may have to consume more of these vitamins and minerals to make sure you’re getting enough of them.
As such, you should include plenty of foods that are rich in these nutrients in your diet.
- Vitamin B12: clams, tuna, salmon, beef, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, turkey, and fortified breakfast cereals
- Iron: oysters, beans, lentils, spinach, sardines, beef, potatoes, cashew nuts, tofu, and fortified breakfast cereals
- Calcium: yogurt, sardines, milk, tofu, salmon, cottage cheese, soybeans, and fortified orange juice, soymilk, and breakfast cereals
- Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, soymilk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, potatoes, rice, yogurt
- Zinc: oysters, beef, crab, lobster, pork chops, baked beans, chicken, yogurt, cashews, chickpeas, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, and fortified breakfast cereals
In some cases, such as if you are a vegetarian, have certain food allergies or intolerances, or already have a severe nutrient deficiency, you may need to take a supplement that contains one or more of these nutrients.
You can find these supplements as single nutrients or alongside several others, like with a multivitamin supplement.
However, unless you’re eliminating entire food groups from your diet, it’s usually more effective and less expensive to supplement with only the nutrient that your diet lacks.
Beyond emphasizing foods rich in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, you should consume an overall healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats with gastritis.
Fruits and vegetables in particular have strong protective effects against stomach cancer (5).
3-day sample gastritis diet menu
Here’s a 3-day sample gastritis diet menu that excludes common trigger foods while emphasizing those rich in the nutrients you may need more of:
- Breakfast: spinach omelet, whole-grain toast, and a banana
- Lunch: grilled chicken wrap, mixed nuts, and strawberries
- Snack: hummus with veggies for dipping
- Dinner: pork loin and carrot-apple slaw
Day 2 (vegan)
- Breakfast: tofu scramble and high-fiber breakfast cereal mixed with calcium-fortified soymilk
- Lunch: garbanzo bean salad
- Snack: chia pudding topped with berries
- Dinner: vegan burrito bowl
- Breakfast: cottage cheese toast and apple slices
- Lunch: grilled chicken salad
- Snack: Greek yogurt topped with berries and slivered almonds
- Dinner: baked salmon, brown rice, and roasted broccolini
The bottom line
Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach or gastric mucosa, the innermost layer of the stomach wall.
Diet plays an important role in managing gastritis symptoms as well as reducing the risk of health consequences that may result from the condition.
With gastritis, you should limit sodium, processed meats, and foods that may trigger your symptoms while emphasizing those that have protective effects against ulcers and stomach cancer.
You should also include plenty of foods in your diet that are rich in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, as you may need more of these nutrients with gastritis.