Can fermented milk products like Kefir treat gastritis? Find out what a new study shows.
Is drinking fermented milk a natural way to treat gastritis? According to a new study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology it is – at least in mice.
What is Gastritis?
Gastritis, or inflammation of the lining of the stomach, has a variety of causes including stress, excessive use of alcohol, and bacterial infection with the bacteria H. pylori, but one of the most common is the long-term use of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil. These medications cause the protective layer that lines the stomach to break down – leading to an inflamed stomach lining.
Fermented Milk Products to Treat Gastritis?
In this study, researchers induced gastritis in mice by giving them high doses of aspirin for ten days. One group of mice was fed fermented milk for seven days. At the end of the study, the mice that drank the fermented milk showed fewer signs of inflammation when their stomachs were biopsied and they had a thicker protective layer of mucous lining the stomach. In fact, the fermented milk protected the stomach lining as well as the drug omeprazole which is used to treat gastritis.
Fermented Milk Products to Prevent an Inflamed Stomach Lining
Drinking fermented milk products could offer a natural way for people who take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the risk of an inflamed stomach lining – and symptoms of gastritis. People with gastritis often experience stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and early satiety which can lead to significant weight loss. Often, the symptoms are hard to distinguish from stomach cancer.
What Types of Fermented Milk Products Are There?
One of the most popular forms of fermented milk is kefir. Kefir is made by adding a complex of bacteria and yeast to milk and allowing it to ferment. This leads to a slightly tangy fermented form of milk which is available at most health food stores and natural food markets. It’s thought that kefir is good for digestion because of the natural probiotics it contains – as a result of the fermentation process. It may also enhance the local immunity in the stomach and intestines – which plays a role in preventing gastritis.
There are some downsides to using fermented milk products to treat gastritis. For one, this study was done in mice and it’s unknown whether fermented milk protects against gastritis in humans. Secondly, kefir and other fermented milk products aren’t pasteurized and could be a source for bacteria that cause illness – especially in people who have underlying immune problems.
A safer way to prevent an inflamed stomach lining would be by using a probiotic bacteria supplement instead of fermented milk. Probiotics help the type of gastritis caused by the bacteria H. pylori, but no studies have been done to see whether it protects against gastritis associated with taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
The bottom line? If you’re taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis or other conditions, talk to your doctor about starting a probiotic supplement – or eat yogurt with active cultures. Although this is not yet proven to prevent or treat gastritis, it probably won’t hurt and may have other health benefits as well.
Medical News Today website. “The Therapeutic Effect Of Fermented Milk On Chronic Gastritis.”