Updated 20 December 2017

Preventing peptic ulcers

Washing your hands with soap and water on a regular basis will prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce risk of bacterial infections.


The most important way to prevent any disease – including peptic ulcer disease – is to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, which includes the following:

  • Exercise the way your doctor or health professional has advised you to.
  • Eat three to six small but balanced meals daily.
  • Get plenty of rest and decrease your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and anti-inflammatory medicines. In certain cases, it may be advisable to eliminate these substances completely.
  • Stop smoking. Heavy smokers are more likely to develop duodenal ulcers, primarily because nicotine is thought to prevent the pancreas from secreting enzymes that neutralise acid. Smoking also slows healing.
  • Avoid eating foods that irritate your stomach, especially fatty and spicy foods, and rather choose foods with high fibre content. High-fibre foods not only play an important role in the prevention of cancer, but can also greatly reduce your risk of developing a duodenal ulcer: fibre is believed to enhance the secretion of mucin, which protects the duodenal lining.

Read more:

How peptic ulcers are diagosed

What are peptic ulcers?

The causes of peptic ulcers

Revised and reviewed by Dr John P Wright MBChB, MRCP (UK), PhD. Gastroenterologist in private practice, Cape Town. February 2015

Previously reviewed by Prof Jan van Zyl, Department of Gastroenterology, University of the Free State, July 2011