Gastric distress is a very common health concern and if you suffer from heartburn constantly, belch, have abdominal pain or have a very sensitive stomach, the chances are you may be suffering from gastritis.
Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach and there are many causes of gastritis, which include stress, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain auto-immune diseases and sometimes gastritis can develop after a chronic infection. However, one of the most common causes of gastritis is an infection by the organism Helicobacter pylori.
Helicobacter pylori infection
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium species found in the stomach. It is one of the most common infections in the world and it is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population harbour H pylori in their gut. This figure is thought to be much higher in countries with low socioeconomic levels. Scientists identified H pylori in 1982 and found that it was present in patients with gastritis and gastric ulcers, conditions that were never thought to have a bacterial connection and were thought to be caused by stress and poor dietary habits. H pylori has a helical shape that is thought to have evolved enabling it to penetrate the mucus producing glands of the body. Mucus is produced by the cells lining the whole of the digestive tract because specifically it enables food to glide down the intestines. With specific reference to the stomach, mucus is produced by the cells lining the stomach to actually protect it from the highly acidic environment within it.
Helicobacter pylori require acid to survive and proliferate, which is why they are primarily found in the human stomach. Once infected, the bacteria can cause chronic and persistent inflammation in the stomach which can lead to gastritis as well as stomach or duodenal ulcers. The infection spreads from human to human through saliva, food, water and dirty hands. Stomach ulcers affect millions of people worldwide and even greater numbers suffer from heartburn and other gastrointestinal concerns.
While infection with H pylori generally goes unnoticed, for some it can result in chronic inflammation of the lower stomach wall and gastritis leading to a whole array of uncomfortable digestive issues. Fortunately there are tests that can determine if you suffer from H pylori infection and these include blood tests, breath tests and biopsies. Conventional treatment for ulcers and H pylori infection is through the use of antibiotics and medications to help suppress acid production. H pylori infection is difficult to eradicate since it thrives in the acidic environment of the stomach and long term use of antibiotics can lead to resistance. Additionally, medications may not relieve all of the symptoms.
A remedy approved in Japan, as a drug to treat ulcers containing zinc carnosine, has been found to strengthen the barrier of the cells lining the stomach as well as inhibiting the growth of H pylori and thus its damaging effects. The supplement of choice is Gastro-Ease by Life Extension.
Gastro-Ease contains specialised forms of zinc and a probiotic both of which support the health of the stomach lining.
Zinc L-carnosine – both zinc and L-carnosine have antioxidant properties that promote tissue repair and recovery. When bonded together to form zinc-carnosine, their tissue healing properties are increased markedly. Studies indicate that both components remain bound together in gastric juices where they can coat any erosive area releasing zinc and carnosine to promote healing.
Pylopass Lactobacillus reuteri – this specific probiotic binds with specific bacteria to help their elimination thus helping to protect the health of the mucous layer of the stomach lining.
Self diagnosis of H pylori infection is very difficult because the symptoms are similar to many other gastrointestinal concerns. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, you may be infected with H pylori.
- tightness and fullness in the abdomen
- severe stabbing pain in the stomach or just below the stomach
- belching and an acidic stomach
- nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- fast weight loss
If any of the above symptoms apply to you then a visit to your GP is a must and perhaps the introduction of Gastro-Ease may be prudent whilst you await the results.