Use Your Body's Natural Ulcer-Stopper

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This technique could help your stomach heal

When British scientists monitored chemicals inside 12 healthy stomachs for 24 hours, they discovered that levels of a protective peptide called TFF2 were up to 340 times higher in the wee hours of the morning than they were right after a meal. High levels of TFF2 are vital for fixing daily damage to the stomach's protective mucous lining (Gut, May 2001).

"The stomach is exposed to its own damaging acids and has to repair itself continuously. TFF2 works hardest at night. So not getting enough sleep may prevent that repair and raise ulcer risk," says study author Felicity E. B. May, DPhil, senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. This may help explain why shift workers are at higher risk for gastrointestinal problems. If you're at high ulcer risk (you may be if you use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin or ibuprofen regularly or if you're a heavy drinker), here's how to optimize your body's stomach-repair system: Get enough sleep. It takes nearly 6 hours of sleep for the TFF2 protein to reach peak levels. But two out of three Americans don't get the sleep they need. Go to bed earlier, avoid caffeine in the evening, sleep in a cooler room, or discuss other sleep strategies with your doctor.

Avoid alcohol's double whammy. Drink moderately. Alcohol damages the stomach's protective lining, especially on an empty stomach. Then it disrupts sleep by increasing middle-of-the-night awakenings.

Turn in right after the late shift. Go to sleep as soon as possible after work.

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by Diane Kozak

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By Diane Kozac

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