My stomach had always been sensitive from quite a young age, in my twenties, if I went out for a drink with friends, we would all be drinking the same, but I would always be the one being sick afterwards.
On holiday after eating and drinking different foods for a couple of weeks my stomach would always end up feeling uncomfortable and bloated, often taking weeks to return to normal once I was home.
But it wasn’t till years later that I started to have more and more issues, I would feel nauseous a lot of the time and my whole digestive system just didn’t seem to work properly. I would have Constipation, bloating, no appetite, and stomach pains on and off. It was stopping me from enjoying my life as much as I should have been, and I was losing weight too.
My GP diagnosed me with Gastritis, and he sent me off with PPIs, at first, I had Omeprazole which after 3 days gave me a horrendous migraine, so was swapped over to Lansoprazole. To be honest it worked very quickly getting rid of nausea and I was so happy something had made me feel better so quickly.
This was the start of a cycle for the next few years, I would take PPIs for a couple of months and start to feel better, so would come off the PPIs. Weeks would pass where I felt ok and would be eating and drinking as normal and then BAM the symptoms would all come back. So, I would go back on the PPIs again.
Deciding to stop PPIs
It was around this time that I started to notice some side effects which I only seemed to have when I was taking PPIs. One thing I was aware of was my eyesight seemed to be a little blurry, but this would always improve
as soon as I stopped the medication.
My hair was also falling out, it wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to concern me. I started to wonder if I wasn’t getting enough vitamins (even though I took multivitamins every day). I also suffered from constipation when on the medication.
I started looking into the long term use of PPIs and found quite a few recent studies that gave me cause for concern.
Although they are a safe drug and are used by millions of people every day with no issues. There is a concern by some experts that long term use may be linked to dementia, heart problems and bone fractures.
One study published by JAMA Neurology in 2016 showed a link between PPIs and a higher risk of Dementia. The study took place over 8 years on more than 70,000 adults over 75 years old. The results showed that after 18 months patients had a 44% higher chance of being diagnosed with dementia, the chance was slightly higher in men at 52%.
It was at this point I decided I really wanted to stop PPIs if I could. I knew I needed to get serious with my diet and help my stomach cope with the changes as best as I could.
So, I bought ‘The Gastritis healing book‘ by L. G. Capellan and went shopping for the foods allowed on the meal plans and made a list of all foods I should avoid.
I knew it was going to be a big change, but I felt like this was the only way I was going to successfully heal my stomach and get off PPIs for good.
Foods to eat
These are some of the foods that helped me, everyone is different though and triggers can differ.
Bone broth – very soothing on your stomach, especially during a flare-up.
High fibre foods – Vegetables such as Broccoli, green beans, and cabbage.
Whole-grain foods – such as brown pasta and rice.
Fruits – Fruits are more difficult with gastritis, especially Citrus fruits which are too acidic. Watermelons and bananas are usually ok as are less acidic.
Low-fat foods – lean meat and fish, avoid processed meats. I ate lots of plain Chicken and Salmon, which never gave me any issues.
Probiotic foods – kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut – These are full of healthy bacteria, which has lots of benefits for your gut.
What to avoid
Coffee – Coffee is highly acidic and contains caffeine which can irritate the stomach lining.
Alcohol – Alcohol is a major irritant of the stomach lining and should be avoided for the first 90 days of healing to give your stomach the best possible chance of healing.
Carbonated drinks – Avoid soft drinks like Cola, Lemonade and Beer.
Spicy foods and fatty foods.
Certain vegetables – Tomatoes, Onions, garlic, and Peppers should be avoided if possible. They are common triggers for Gastritis sufferers.
Weaning off the PPIs
The Next thing I did was start to wean off the PPIs. My stomach was in quite a good place at this point, which I think is important.
One of the reasons many people end up staying on these drugs long term is that when they stop, they get unpleasant side effects, often similar to the symptoms they had when they first started taking them. This is referred to as rebound.
One way to help stop this from happening is to wean off the tablets very slowly. I was taking Lansoprazole 30mg, I told my GP I wanted to come off the tablets and she gave me some 15mg dose capsules.
Week 1 – I started by taking my 30mg dose one day, followed by 15mg the day after, then 30mg again the next day.
Week 2 and 3 – I did this for a week and then the following week I just started taking the 15mg every day, which I did for 2 weeks.
Week 4 – On week 4 I just took a 15mg tablet every other day.
Then I stopped taking any tablets, but I did buy a bottle of Gaviscon advance Gaviscon Heartburn and Indigestion
Liquid, Double Action, Mint Flavour, 600 ml which lots of people said was fantastic at this stage of weaning off. If had any acid symptoms I would have a couple of spoonsful of this, and it really did help.
The amount of time it takes to wean off will depend on how long you have been on the PPI’s in the first place. Generally, the longer you have been taking them the longer you should take weaning off.
Sometimes people will transfer on to an H2 blocker when weaning off PPI’s. Your GP is the best person to ask about this.
Obviously, not everyone should wean off PPIs, this is certainly something you should discuss with your GP/Doctor first.
Supplements made a huge difference in my healing journey. I used slippery elm powder, Zinc L carnosine and probiotics as well as a few others too.
See my post – Herbs and supplements for Gastritis to see more details on these.
I also had a great experience using Celery juice. I was very sceptical about using this and didn’t expect to see much of a change, but it made a huge difference to my symptoms.
I have written a post about my experience with Celery juice, as well as a step-by-step guide to making it, with or without a juicer – Heal your Gastritis with Celery Juice
How long to heal from Gastritis
It took roughly 6 months for me to heal, with me following the Gastritis healing book diet strictly, taking the supplements I mention and avoiding alcohol and NSAIDs.
It’s been over a year now since I have felt better and can now eat and drink as normal. Saying this I will always be cautious with certain foods and drink.
I tend to avoid coffee as I know my stomach just doesn’t like it; I do drink alcohol now but always in moderation. I will never touch NSAIDS and always take Paracetamol/Tylenol instead.
If you are considering taking a step to healing your stomach naturally then I would certainly urge you to do so. My whole digestive system just works better, and I feel healthier than I have in years.
But everyone’s issues and problems are different, so you do need to discuss this with your doctor. Some people’s gastritis may need a much longer course of PPIs.