According to the National Institute of Health, 5 million people in the United States suffer from peptic ulcers. That’s approximately 1 in 54 people! We know what triggers ulcers, and we’re pretty sure we know how to prevent them, but where do they come from?
A new study from The National Academy of Sciences USA published these findings in July:
“Ulcers from the Deep
Genes that help harmful germs thrive in the warmth of the human body apparently arose from DNA that enables microbes to survive in superheated deep-sea vents. Scientists at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology compared the genomes of two deep-sea bacteria with those of Helicobacter, responsible for ulcers, and Campylobacter, the leading food-borne cause of diarrhea. According to the researchers, genes that likely help deep-sea bacteria maintain symbiotic relationships with other vent-dwelling organisms assist their gut-dwelling relatives in evading immune systems. Enzymes that help vent microbes live off hydrogen enable Helicobacter and Campylobacter to do the same in the digestive system. And like their harmful kin, deep-sea bacteria have few DNA repair genes, allowing frequent mutations to occur and enabling the microbes to adapt quickly to changing conditions or to resist immune responses. The researchers suggest the human-harming bugs evolved from deep-sea ancestors and later acquired more virulence factors while living in symbiosis with animals. Written by: Charles Q. Choi of Scientific America”
Could our belly microbes really have followed us up from the briny deep? Signs are starting to point to yes! But wherever you think they came from, ulcers and the bacteria responsible for causing ulcers, are not fun house guests in the human body
Ulcers can be prevented and managed, and anyone showing early signs or symptoms should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Sufferers of peptic ulcers should ALWAYS consult with doctors before undergoing treatment outside of clinics or medical offices. Those with ulcers can usually benefit from lifestyle changes, like stress relief techniques, proper diet (eating meals at regular intervals and avoiding foods that trigger flare-ups), and regular medication management.
Even those with heartburn symptoms can find relief with some simple lifestyle changes. Most experts agree that heartburn sufferers should not go to bed with a full stomach; instead eat your last meal 2-4 hours before bed to give your stomach time to digest and decrease stomach acids. When heading to bed, try elevating the head of your bed by a few inches rather than piling pillows beneath your head and neck (which can actually increase heartburn by putting pressure on your stomach). You can also try sleeping on your left side, which prevents the esophagus from straightening during the night; keeping the natural curve of the esophagus prevents acid from easily traveling up out of the stomach. During the day, avoid overeating which can increase stomach acids; instead of three large meals, try to get several small meals throughout the day and avoid foods that trigger heartburn, like chocolates, caffeinated drinks, citrus fruits or high fat foods. Keeping a food diary may also help you determine what foods trigger your heartburn issues