Soy Sauce – Is It Bad for Gastritis?

Because soy sauce contains a relatively high sodium content and a pH level of 4.4-5.40, it may not be suitable for your stomach health and could aggravate gastritis symptoms. Other salty and fatty food products may irritate your stomach lining, causing more problems. Only include food and drinks rich in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants with an alkaline pH level (non-acidic) like kale spinach, broccoli sprouts, nuts, whole grains, yogurts, apples, olive and fish oil, peppermint, and green tea. If you can’t remove soy sauce from your diet, use brands with low sodium content, consider alternatives like coconut aminos, or make your soy sauce at home.

Soy sauce does have its magic, like any other food seasoning we use in our cooking. It’s our best friend when it comes to Chinese take-outs like dumplings, noodles, stir-fries, or other savory Asian dishes.

Who cares about the nutritional value pasted on the bottle? As long as you enjoy that “umami” flavor, it adds to your BBQ, right?

Not until you check on the list will you see how high it is in sodium content, which could be a problem for some, especially for people with stomach problems like gastritis or acid reflux.

What is gastritis?

Your stomach is a harsh environment which, explains how it can dissolve and absorb the food you eat, but it produces mucus that acts as its protective layer. When your stomach lining is inflamed or irritated, it may result in gastritis. 

The inflammation of your stomach lining causes low production of mucus, acids, and other enzymes, which causes problems in your digestion. 

You may experience symptoms that would most likely interrupt you whenever you’re eating or drinking.

The two primary causes of gastritis

Many things may have contributed to your condition. Though there are two most common causes, which include:

  1. Overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox)
  2. Infection by the bacterial species Helicobacter Pylori, the same bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.

Other causes may include the following

Older age

As you age, your stomach lining may thin down just as other parts of your body start to deteriorate. Additionally, H. Pylori infection is most likely to occur in older people.

Excessive alcohol intake

Too much alcohol may irritate and destroy your stomach, compromising its protection from harmful digestive juices.

Severe stress

Whether physical or emotional stress can be a risk factor for having gastritis.

Autoimmune gastritis

It happens when your immune system attacks the cells present in your stomach lining, affecting its mucus and acid production, and it also results in less absorption of vitamin B12. This disease commonly occurs in people with other autoimmune diseases.

Other diseases

Digestive disorders like Chron’s disease and chronic bile reflux may cause inflammation in your stomach.

Other conditions such as having HIV/AIDs or other viral infections may put you at risk of having gastritis.

Certain foods

Food products containing soy, corn, coffee, or other processed foods with high amounts of salt and trans fat may irritate your stomach lining.

If you’re allergic to wheat, eggs, and other dairy products, it might also be the cause. 

Why is soy sauce bad for gastritis?

A woman with gastritis is sitting down because of pain she's feeling by her stomach

Most soy sauce products are made by fermenting soybeans and wheat.

If you don’t have allergies to soy or wheat, you’re most likely free to add these ingredients to your dishes. But, if you’re suffering from gastritis and acid reflux diseases, its acidity and saltiness may aggravate your symptoms.

The making of soy sauce produces alcohols, sugars, and amino acids, which results in its flavorful taste, aroma, and color.

Because soy sauce has an average pH level of 4.4 – 5.40, which is considered acidic and contains large amounts of salt, it is not the best condiment and food seasoning for people with gastritis.

You may still enjoy soy sauce in moderation but try to see if using smaller amounts would trigger your symptoms. If it does, discontinue using it and try using substitutes or making your sauce through kitchen scraps. 

Remember, it’s beneficial and healthier to use naturally brewed soy sauce than chemically produced ones. The list of ingredients will include “hydrolyzed soy protein” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” if it’s not naturally brewed.

Products to substitute for soy sauce

Look for products that include labels like “low sodium” or “less sodium,” which means the sodium content is reduced than a traditional soy sauce.

Below are some products that people use as a substitute for soy sauce:

Coconut aminos

It’s gluten and soy-free food seasoning because it does not contain wheat and is made from fermented coconut sap and sea salt instead of soybeans.

In contrast with its product name, you don’t really taste any coconut. Instead, it has a milder and sweeter flavor, similar to a light soy sauce.

Organic Coconut Aminos Soy Sauce Replacement, 16.9 Ounces

Coconut aminos have about 73% much lesser sodium content (90 mg per teaspoon or 270 mg per tablespoon) than the classic soy sauce (280 mg per teaspoon or over 1000 mg per tablespoon).

It has been a common substitute for people who want or need to avoid a high amount of salt in their diet and those who have allergies to soy and wheat.

Remember, it’s still a salty food condiment with high sodium content and should be used sparingly. Moreover, the health benefits of coconut aminos still need further research on claims for reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood sugar levels, and promoting weight loss.

Kikkoman Low Sodium Soy Sauce 

Kikkoman makes premium quality soy sauce products and crafts them to meet today’s recommended diet. The Kikkoman Low Sodium Soy Sauce has approximately 40% less sodium (90 mg per 1 teaspoon or 570 per 1 tablespoon) than regular Kikkoman Soy Sauce (320 mg of sodium per 1 teaspoon or 960 mg per 1 tablespoon).

Kikoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce 296ml Pack of 3

In addition to less sodium content, it is naturally brewed with no artificial additives, fewer preservatives (about less than 1/10 of 1%), and contains four natural ingredients- soybeanswheat, salt, and water

A good amount of salt is removed during the fermenting process of this product while maintaining its rich aroma and umami flavor.

San-J Tamari Soy Sauce

Tamari soy sauce is made from fermenting soybeans with an acidic solution making it gluten-free. It has a rich, darker umami flavor and is less salty than traditional soy sauce.

Look out for the nutritional value of these products, as most brands of Tamari sauces contain slightly more sodium than regular soy sauces. 

San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce, Black Bottle, 10 Ounce (Pack of 2)

Another product that should be included in your list is San-J Tamari Soy Sauce. It is gluten-free and has 28% less sodium (237 mg sodium per 1 teaspoon or 710 mg sodium per 1 tablespoon).

You may also enjoy another product of the same brand, the Tamari Lite Soy Sauce with 50% Less Sodium (137 mg per 1 teaspoon or 410 mg or 1 tablespoon). 

These products are naturally brewed, vegan and gluten-free with no artificial additives and preservatives but may contain allergens like soy.

Wan Ja Shan Organic Soy Sauce

Wan Ja Shan Organic Soy Sauce is famous for its naturally brewed organic ingredients. It is gluten-free with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Wan Ja Shan Organic Soy Sauce with Less Sodium, (2 Pack, Total of 20fl.oz)

It contains 25% less sodium than the original (227 mg per 1 teaspoon or 680 mg per 1 tablespoon).

Oshawa Organic Nama Shoyu

Another soy sauce brand that you might want to check out is Oshawa Organic Nama Shoyu. It is a famous Japanese brand of soy sauce with reduced sodium content (240 mg per 1 teaspoon or 720 mg per 1 tablespoon). 

OHSAWA Organic Nama Shoyu Sauce, 5 Ounce

In addition to its rich and organic flavor, it contains living enzymes and beneficial probiotic bacteria from its natural ingredients-organically grown soybeans and whole wheat, mountain spring water, and sea salt.

Note that these products still contain a good amount of salt that may aggravate gastritis symptoms. If you can’t remove soy sauce from your diet, keep them small or try making your sauces with less alcohol and salt at home.

What food to avoid with gastritis?

Although food is less likely to cause gastritis, you must avoid particular food and drinks, mainly processed, canned, or packaged food products.

These contain high amounts of fat, sugar, alcohol, salt, and artificial preservatives or additives that may not promote optimal healing of your stomach lining and may offer harmful effects on your overall health.

Below are some food and beverages that you must cut down or avoid when taking treatments for gastritis:

  • Spicy foods, chili, and hot peppers
  • Deep-fried and baked goods
  • Fast foods, Processed or Canned Food Products
  • Acidic drinks (coffee, alcohol, sodas, or carbonated beverages)
  • Citrus fruits and juice
  • Milk and soy products. Limit your intake of whole milk and milk products like cheese, curd, chocolates, shakes, soybeans, and soy products such as soy milk and tofu.
  • Tomatoes. Though rich in antioxidants, this fruit might be too acidic for you.

What food to include?

Eat more whole food products such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods. These are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals with a low amount of unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar.

Your doctor might suggest you eat foods with high amounts of fiber, contain an alkaline pH level (non-acidic), has anti-inflammatory properties, and may promote gut health and digestion. 

These include the following:

Dark leafy green vegetables

These are rich in vitamin B like kale and spinach. Broccoli sprouts, cabbage, and arugula also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Probiotics

Natural yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and sourdough bread are packed with healthy bacteria that are good for stomach health and nutrition.

Nuts and whole grains

Whole-wheat bread, cereals, pasta, brown rice, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are fiber-rich foods that are good for digestion and prevent inflammation.

Flavonoid-rich foods

These include cranberries, onions, apples, celery, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries.

Healthy fats and oils

These are found in olive oil, canola oil, and oily fishes such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

Green tea and peppermint

These may soothe symptoms of inflammation in your stomach lining.

Garlic

It may help fight off infection of H. pylori bacteria causing your gastritis.

Your doctor or dietician may give you a list of food to include in your diet while taking prescribed medications for your gastritis.

Although most stomach inflammation occurs as minor cases, it’s essential to manage your condition as it may result in stomach ulcers and increase your risk of having cancer when left untreated.

Conclusion

You may experience minor to severe reactions if you use traditional soy sauce in your dishes when you have gastritis. It may differ with every brand, which could contain more sodium than the others.

If you have gastritis, doctors may recommend you avoid salty and fatty food products, including soy sauce. But, if you can’t altogether remove it from your diet, better use brands with less sodium content to avoid any more problems.