How to Avoid an H. Pylori Bacterial Infection

Two Methods:Reducing Risk Factors of H. PyloriPreventing H. Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori, or H. Pylori, is a bacteria that lives in the stomach and can cause inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining and ulcers. It has also been linked to stomach cancer. However, many people have no symptoms and are unaware that they are harboring the bacteria. In these individuals, the bacteria causes no harmful side effects at all. When symptoms do occur, they may include abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating, and unintentional weight loss.[1] As of 2014, the prevalence of the bacteria infection in the USA is estimated at between 30-67% and worldwide at 50%.[2] Given the poor body, food, and water sanitation in non-industrialized countries, the rate of the bacteria infection in these regions jumps to 90% of the population.[3] If you avoid the risk factors and take certain preventative measures, you can lower your risk of contracting a H. Pylori bacterial infection.

Method 1
Reducing Risk Factors of H. Pylori

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    Do not eat poorly cooked food. No matter where you live or are traveling to, you should avoid food that is poorly cooked as it increases your risk of food poisoning and other causes of infection. Poorly cooked food is a major conduit of H. Pylori because the food is not heated to a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. This can be hard to detect, but if your food is cold or raw, avoid eating it because it could possibly be a carrier of the bacteria. [4]
    • Avoid food that has been inadequately cleaned, like vegetables, or handled, like meats and fish. Improperly cleaned and mishandled foods also increase the risk of all types of foodborne infection.
    • You should also cook any food you make yourself to a high temperature as well. Since you may not know where all the food came from that you are cooking, you need to be certain you cook it well. This way you can avoid contaminating yourself with the bacteria as well.
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    Avoid unsanitary areas. One of the major ways that the H. Pylori bacteria is transmitted is through unsanitary conditions. This includes food and beverage production, living conditions, and activity areas as well. Food that is cooked in a poorly sanitized setting can transmit the bacteria from one individual to another. Avoid roadside locations or food carts where it is evident that there is no proper facilities for hand washing or cleaning utensils.
    • You should also avoid living arrangements near unclean water sources, sewage locations, and other areas where unclean and dirty water may be prevalent.
    • Avoid places where people don't use gloves, where there are inadequate restroom and cleaning facilities, or places where workers touch money and other people and then handle food or merchandise.[5]
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    Recognize accidental transmission. The main way that the bacteria is transmitted is through the fecal-oral route or the oral-oral route. This means that food, water, and objects are contaminated with the bacteria because of poor sewage practices and poor hygiene. Since many individuals do not know they are carrying the bacteria, it can easily be transferred from one individual to another. Accidental transmission often occurs when a person is carrying the bacteria and does not practice proper hand washing practices.
    • The bacteria can be found in saliva, feces, vomit, and other gastric and oral secretions. Any of these substances from a carrier getting into your mouth, or if you touch your hand to your mouth after touching something with the bacteria on it, will increase the risk of infection with H. Pylori. [6]

Method 2
Preventing H. Pylori

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    Wash your hands thoroughly. Since the main form of transmission of the H. Pylori bacteria is through touch, you should always practice proper personal hygiene and hand washing. You should wash your hands thorough and often, especially after using the restroom or before handling food.
    • Proper hand washing starts with warm water, at least 120 degrees, and a decent sized helping of liquid soap. Place the soap in your hands and wet them briefly. Wash them for a total of 15-30 seconds, scrubbing around your fingers, along the front and back of your palms, and around your fingernails. Then rinse them in the warm water and dry them with a clean, sanitized towel or clean paper towel.[7]
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    Eat in sanitary places. When you are in a non-industrialized nation, eat only in restaurants with sanitation standards similar to an industrialized country's standard of sanitation. Kitchen utensils should be washed in hot water with antibacterial soap. Once the utensils are cleansed, they may become reinfected if handled by a carrier who has touched his mouth or not properly washed his hands after using the restroom. Because of this, ensure that you only eat at places where employees wear gloves as well.
    • The use of hand sanitizer is helpful in these questionable scenarios.[8]
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    Stop interacting with those infected. If you are married to or in a relationship with someone infected or if you have a family member who has H. Pylori, you should be very careful with your interactions with them. If you are married or dating someone infected, do not kiss them or engage in any sort of sexual activity until they have been treated for the infection. Also keep their toothbrush, cups, and utensils in a different area so the bacteria cannot be transmitted through saliva.
    • You should also not let anyone in your family with the bacterial infection prepare food, serve drinks, or touch things that are consumed so they cannot transmit the bacteria accidentally through touch or other contamination.[9]
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    Get tested. If a family member gets sick with the bacterial infection, you need to get checked as well. In terms of prevention, eradication is a large part of avoiding the bacteria in the future. Since it is spread by poor hygiene and sanitary conditions within families, it is recommended that, to eradicate H. Pylori from your family, all family members get tested for the H. Pylori bacteria.
    • If a family member is positive, they must be treated then retested for the bacteria after 4 weeks of treatment. Reinfection can occur and start the cycle over if you do not make sure that the bacteria is eradicated from the entire household. [10]
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    Get adequate nutrition. One great way to help prevent a H. Pylori infection is to eat a balanced diet. This helps you stay healthy and fight off the bacteria if it gets into your system. You need to maintain a diet containing adequate proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water to sustain good health. The exact proportions of each type of food vary based on your weight, gender, and activity level. However, a good place to start is to maintain a calorie intake of approximately 2000 calories a day.
    • The majority of your calories should come from fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, and low fat proteins.
    • Even with attempts at a balanced diet, 67% of dieticians recommend daily multivitamins to fill nutritional gaps in diet that are not being met by food alone.[11]
    • Ensure that you get adequate vitamin C intake, which is suggested as 1000mg daily. Eat citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, as well as green leafy vegetables to get more vitamin C in your diet.[12]

Sources and Citations

  2. Roshana Shesha, Kamal Kojrala, KC. Shivraj et al . Helico Bacter Pylori Infection Among Patients with Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Journal of Family Primary Care 2014, April 3 (2) 154-158
  3. LM Brown , Helicobacter Pylori: Epidemiology and routes of Transmission. Epidemiology Review 2000 22 (2) 283-297.
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Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health