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Gastritis Weight Loss: Why It Happens And What You Can Do About It

Your stomach has a protective lining of mucus called the gastric mucosa. This layer helps to shield your stomach from the corrosive effects of acid and digestive enzymes. When this barrier is weakened or damaged, it can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). Gastritis affects the body in many ways. Mainly, it can cause weight loss. This happens because the inflammation caused by gastritis is reducing the amount of food that your stomach can hold, as well as interfering with nutrient digestion and absorption. This article discussed the things you can do to help manage gastritis and minimize the associated weight loss.

What Is Gastritis?

Gastritis is a gastrointestinal disorder that is characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining (15). There are two main types of gastritis:

Erosive/Reactive gastritis is most commonly caused by H. Pylori infection, stress,  or exposure to a corrosive substance, such as aspirin or alcohol. There are also some less common causes, such as radiation. This type of gastritis may lead to ulcers and bleeding (10).

Autoimmune gastritis is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the stomach lining. This type of gastritis is less common and tends to be less severe (5).

What Causes Gastritis?

Several things can cause gastritis, including:

Alcohol

Alcohol contains many chemical compounds that can irritate and damage the stomach lining. This is one of the most common causes of gastritis (1).

Bacterial Infection

Certain types of bacteria, such as Helicobacter pylori, can cause gastritis. H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium that infects the mucus lining of the stomach. This infection is a common cause of peptic ulcers (23).

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are a type of medication that is used to relieve pain and inflammation. They work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are compounds that play a role in inflammation (20). Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

Reflux

Reflux is a condition that is caused by stomach acid moving back up the esophagus. This can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus. While not a cause of gastritis, the two conditions are often (though not always) associated (3).

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a type of medication that is used to treat inflammation and other conditions. They work by suppressing the body’s immune system. Corticosteroids may increase the risk of gastritis if they are taken for a long period, especially when NSAIDs are taken concurrently (25).

Stress

Stress can weaken the gastric mucosal barrier and lead to gastritis. This is because stress hormones, such as cortisol, can increase the production of stomach acid (26).

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Major Injury Or Illness

A major injury or illness can cause gastritis by damaging the stomach lining. This can happen if you have surgery, a car accident, or a severe burn.

An injury to your body, not necessarily to your stomach, that affects blood flow or the function of the digestive system can also lead to gastritis.

Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease is one where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Autoimmune gastritis is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the stomach lining. This can lead to inflammation and damage of the stomach lining (6).

Food Allergies

Food allergies are a type of hypersensitivity reaction that is caused by the body’s immune system. When you have a food allergy, your immune system reacts to a specific food protein as if it were a harmful substance. This can lead to gastritis in some people (12).

What Are The Symptoms Of Gastritis?

The symptoms of gastritis vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Common symptoms include (14):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Belching or burping
  • Hiccups

How Does Gastritis Cause Weight Loss?

Gastritis can lead to weight loss in several ways:

Reduced Absorption Of Nutrients

The inflammation caused by gastritis can reduce the amount of food that your stomach can hold. This can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, as well as weight loss.

Poor Appetite

The pain and discomfort associated with gastritis can lead to a loss of appetite (4). This can make it difficult to eat enough calories to maintain your weight.

Inflammation

The inflammation caused by gastritis can also interfere with the digestion or absorption of nutrients. This can lead to weight loss.

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How Is Gastritis Diagnosed?

Gastritis can be diagnosed by your doctor based on your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also order a series of tests, such as a blood test, stool test, or breath test, to confirm the diagnosis.

How Is Gastritis Treated?

The treatment for gastritis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options may include:

Antibiotics

If gastritis is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat it. 

H2 Blockers

H2 blockers are a type of medication that is used to reduce stomach acid. They work by blocking the production of histamine, a compound that stimulates the release of stomach acid. Common H2 blockers include ranitidine and cimetidine (17).

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a type of medication that is used to treat GERD and other acid-related disorders. They work by inhibiting the production of stomach acid. Common PPIs include omeprazole and esomeprazole (19).

How Can I Manage Gastritis?

There are several things that you can do to help manage gastritis and minimize the associated weight loss:

Avoid Alcohol

If you have gastritis, it is important to avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol contains many chemical compounds that can irritate and damage the stomach lining.

Take NSAIDs With Food

If you need to take an NSAID for pain relief, it is important to take it with food. This will help reduce the risk of stomach irritation and ulcers.

Avoid Spicy And Acidic Foods

Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the stomach lining and make gastritis worse. It is usually best to avoid these foods if you have gastritis (4).

Eat Small Meals Often

Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help reduce the amount of food that your stomach has to digest at one time. This can help minimize the pain and discomfort associated with gastritis.

Get Plenty Of Rest And Reduce Stress

Stress can aggravate gastritis. It is important to get plenty of rest and practice self-care to help reduce stress levels.

Exercise

Moderate exercise can help reduce the inflammation associated with gastritis (18). However, it is important not to overdo it, as this can make the symptoms worse.

Talk To Your Doctor

If you are struggling to manage your gastritis, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can prescribe medication to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the condition.

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Gastritis Diet: What To Eat And What To Avoid

When your stomach lining is inflamed, your diet can play a big role in finding gastritis relief. Here are foods to eat and avoid, plus tips for managing symptoms.

Foods To Avoid

These foods can worsen gastritis symptoms:

Acidic Foods

Most fruits are healthy sources of nutrition, but if you have gastritis, you may want to avoid acidic fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and pineapples.

These are not the only naturally acidic foods; other culprits include tomatoes, cranberries, and strawberries.

High-Fat Foods

Fatty or greasy foods can increase stomach acid production and lead to heartburn or indigestion (28).

Limit your intake of fatty cuts of meat, as well as fried foods, high-fat dairy products, and processed meats like bacon and sausage.

Spicy Foods

Chili peppers and other spices can trigger gastritis symptoms in some people. If you find that spicy foods make your symptoms worse, it’s best to avoid them.

Caffeinated Foods

Caffeine can stimulate your stomach to produce more acid (7).

That means coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate can make gastritis symptoms worse.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can irritate your stomach lining and make gastritis symptoms worse (13). If you have gastritis, it’s best to avoid alcohol or drink it in moderation and with food.

Carbonated Drinks

The bubbles in carbonated beverages can cause stomach bloating and pain (8). If you have gastritis, it’s best to avoid these drinks.

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Foods To Eat

To help ease gastritis symptoms, try eating the following:

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotics are your gut’s best friend.

They help to keep the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can help reduce inflammation (9).

Some probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso soup.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics.

They’re also easy to digest and can help to reduce stomach inflammation (22).

Some fermented foods include kombucha, kefir, and natto.

Ginger

Ginger is a natural digestive aid that can help to relieve nausea and stomach pain (16).

Try adding ginger to your diet in the form of tea, capsules, or fresh ginger root.

Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber is essential for gut health and can help to reduce inflammation. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble (27).

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help to regulate digestion. It is a source of prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in your gut (27).

Some good sources of soluble fiber include oats, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and helps to add bulk to your stool. This type of fiber can help to prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements (27).

Some good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is high in collagen and amino acids, which might help to soothe and heal the gut. It’s also a great source of electrolytes, which can help to combat dehydration (11).

Try drinking a cup of bone broth daily to help relieve gastritis symptoms.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and may help to reduce gastritis symptoms (21).

Some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. You can also get omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Deeply Colored Veggies And Fruits

Dark leafy greens and other deeply colored vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, some of which may help to reduce inflammation (2). Some good sources of beneficial plant compounds include beets, blueberries, and kale.

Green Tea

Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and may help to reduce inflammation (24). It’s also low in caffeine, so it probably won’t irritate your stomach like coffee can. Try drinking green tea daily to help ease gastritis symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Gastritis is a condition that is caused by inflammation of the stomach lining. This can be caused by many things, including alcohol, stress, infection, and certain medications. Gastritis can lead to weight loss in several ways, including reduced absorption of nutrients, poor appetite, and inflammation. 

There are several things that you can do to help manage gastritis and minimize the associated weight loss. If you are struggling to manage your gastritis, it is important to talk to your doctor.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

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  2. A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow” (2019, hindawi.com)
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  7. Caffeine induces gastric acid secretion via bitter taste signaling in gastric parietal cells (2017, pnas.org)
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  11. Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths – PMC (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  12. Food Allergy and Helicobacter pylori Infection: A Systematic Review | Microbiology (216, frontiersin.org)
  13. Gastric ethanol metabolism and gastritis: interactions with other drugs, Helicobacter pylori, and antibiotic therapy (1957-1997)–a review (1997, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  14. Gastritis: Overview (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  15. Gastritis (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  16. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials (2018, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
  17. H2 Blockers (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  18. Inflammatory Effects of High and Moderate Intensity Exercise—A Systematic Review (2020, frontiersin.org)
  19. Influence of proton pump inhibitors on gastritis diagnosis and pathologic gastric changes – PMC (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  20. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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  22. One Health, Fermented Foods, and Gut Microbiota (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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  25. Steroid ulcers: Any news? (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  26. Stress-Induced Gastritis (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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  28. The role of diet in the development and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: why we feel the burn (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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