Helicobacter pylori is a species of bacteria that colonizes the human stomach. Though found in most humans, it often becomes problematic.
Many people believe having H. pylori leads to stomach ulcers, but this isn’t correct. It’s perfectly normal to have H. pylori in your stomach, but when it overgrows, it causes problems.
Oftentimes, people experience sudden abdominal pain and burning due to gastritis, inflammation in the stomach. They go to their doctor who tests for H. pylori, the test comes back positive, so the treatment plan immediately targets H. pylori.
But what if the problem isn’t H. pylori, per se? What if there’s a reason H. pylori overgrows? Furthermore, what if that reason is something we do that’s easy to correct?
Irregular meal timing and Helicobacter pylori gastritis
The first step in correcting any sort of gut problem is a thorough medical history and lifestyle analysis. Most people have no idea how important their lifestyle is to their gut health. Important factors include:
- Dietary quality/quantity
- Physical activity/exercise
- Alcohol intake
- Metabolic health
- Meal patterning/frequency/timing
It never ceases to amaze me how surprised people are when they learn this stuff matters. Like it’s coming completely out of left field.
So it’s fortunate when I can show them data to really drive home this point. One study on meal patterns and Helicobacter pylori and gastritis:
…we found that deviating from regular meal timing by two hours or more was associated with a thirteenfold increase in risk of developing HP with gastritis, and a sixfold increase in risk of developing gastritis.
The interesting thing about this study is that most of the damage occurs by just doing this once a week. While there was a minor increase in doing it twice a week, once a week did most of the heavy lifting.
Keep in mind that this took place over many years. It’s not that deviating from regularly schedule meals once every now and again is going to cause gastritis. But irregular meal patterns over a period of years may predispose to Helicobacter pylori overgrowth and gastritis.
When it comes to gut problems, lifestyle matters alot, and very few know this. Unfortunately, I think this is a major driver of the huge relapse rate most people with gut problems see. Doesn’t matter if it’s gastritis, SIBO, IBS, or IBD.
This is why targeted therapeutic approaches should only be implemented when behaviors that reinforce gut problems are corrected. In gastritis, meal irregularity may be one problem, gastroparesis due to hyperglycemia another.
Regardless of the condition or treatment, building good gut health requires good gut habits. According to the study above, if you have problems with Helicobacter pylori and gastritis, consistent meal patterns should be practiced.