Diet and nutrition for GERD
Acid reflux occurs when there is acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus. This happens commonly but can cause complications or troublesome symptoms, such as heartburn.
One reason this happens is that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged. Normally the LES closes to prevent food in the stomach from moving up into the esophagus.
The foods you eat affect the amount of acid your stomach produces. Eating the right kinds of food is key to controlling acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a severe, chronic form of acid reflux.
Foods that may help reduce your symptoms
Reflux symptoms may result from stomach acid touching the esophagus and causing irritation and pain. If you have too much acid, you can incorporate these specific foods into your diet to manage symptoms of acid reflux.
None of these foods will cure your condition, and your decision to use these specific foods to soothe your symptoms should be based on your own experiences with them.
Vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar, and they help reduce stomach acid. Good options include green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumbers.
Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. You can add grated or sliced ginger root to recipes or smoothies or drink ginger tea to ease symptoms.
Oatmeal is a breakfast favorite, a whole grain, and an excellent source of fiber. Oatmeal can absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of reflux. Other fiber options include whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice.
4. Noncitrus fruits
Noncitrus fruits, including melons, bananas, apples, and pears, are less likely to trigger reflux symptoms than acidic fruits.
5. Lean meats and seafood
Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood, are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Try them grilled, broiled, baked, or poached.
6. Egg whites
Egg whites are a good option. Stay away from egg yolks, though, which are high in fat and may trigger reflux symptoms.
7. Healthy fats
Sources of healthy fats include avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replace them with these healthier unsaturated fats.
Finding your triggers
Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux and GERD. You may develop a burning sensation in your stomach or chest after eating a full meal or certain foods. GERD can also cause vomiting or regurgitation as acid moves into your esophagus.
Other symptoms include:
- dry cough
- sore throat
- burping or hiccups
- difficulty swallowing
- lump in the throat
Many people with GERD find that certain foods trigger their symptoms. No single diet can prevent all symptoms of GERD, and food triggers are different for everyone.
To identify your individual triggers, keep a food diary and track the following:
- what foods you eat
- what time of day you eat
- what symptoms you experience
Keep the diary for at least a week. It’s helpful to track your foods for a longer period if your diet varies. You can use the diary to identify specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD.
Also, the diet and nutrition advice here is a starting point to plan your meals. Use this guide in conjunction with your food journal and recommendations from your doctor. The goal is to minimize and control your symptoms.