What to Eat and Avoid If You Have GERD

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects about 20% of the American population. This is a condition in which the stomach contents regularly move back up the food pipe.

This regurgitation is usually long-term, and can result in uncomfortable symptoms, including heartburn and pain in the upper abdomen. The severity of the condition often relates to diet and lifestyle. Avoiding trigger foods and following other dietary tips may relieve the symptoms of GERD. If you have GERD and are curious about which foods may be triggering your symptoms, keep on reading.

Food Groups to Avoid with GERD

  • Coffee and Tea: Caffeinated beverages aggravate acid reflux. Opt for teas without caffeine.
  • Carbonated beverages: The bubbles expand in your stomach, creating more pressure and pain. Choose plain water or decaf iced tea.
  • Chocolate: This treat contains caffeine, fat and cocoa – which will do your stomach harm.
  • Peppermint: Don’t be fooled by its reputation for soothing stomach aches – peppermint is an acid reflux trigger.
  • Citrus: The high acidity of citrus fruits relaxes the esophagus sphincter and worsens symptoms.
  • Tomatoes: Also avoid marinara sauce, ketchup and tomato soup – they’re all naturally high in acid.
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol relaxes the sphincter valve, but it also stimulates acid production in the stomach, so it’s best to avoid.
  • Fried Foods: These are some of the worst foods for reflux. Skip the french fries, onion rings and fried chicken to avoid triggering your symptoms.
  • Midnight Snacks: Avoid eating anything in the two hours before you go to bed. Try eating 4 to 5 smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2 to 3 large meals.

There is little clinical evidence linking these foods to GERD symptoms, but the overall experiences of people with this condition gives overwhelming testimony that these foods may worsen symptoms. Trigger foods can vary from person to person. People with GERD should try eliminating each food type from their diet to see if any symptoms improve. If they do not, they can incorporate the food back into their diet.

Foods in the Safe Zone

Believe it or not, some foods may actively improve GERD symptoms. Until recently, researchers did not fully understand GERD, and there was a lack of scientific evidence to suggest that changing the diet could improve symptoms. Here is a list of just some of the foods that will benefit your symptoms:

  • ChickenBreast: Be sure to remove the skin. Skip fried chicken and instead choose baked, broiled or grilled.
  • Lettuce, Celery and Sweet Peppers: These mild green veggies are easy on the stomach, and won’t cause painful gas.
  • Brown Rice: This pantry staple is mild and filling – just don’t serve it fried.
  • Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are all low-acid fruits that are among the best foods for acid reflux.
  • Oatmeal: Filling, hearty and healthy, this comforting breakfast standard also works for lunch.
  • Fennel: This low-acid crunchy vegetable has a mild licorice flavor and a natural soothing effect.
  • Ginger: Brew some ginger tea or chew on low-sugar dried ginger for a natural stomach ache remedy.

The Outlook

Although people typically consider GERD to be a chronic disorder, it does not have to be permanent. Changes to the diet, lifestyle, and integrative treatments can help alongside medication. If this treatment does not work, surgery can be an option to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. The appropriate treatment should prevent GERD from affecting quality of life. It is vital to always talk to a doctor before making any changes to a treatment plan. If you feel as though you may have symptoms of GERD, or you have GERD and are looking for treatment, contact Triborough GI today.

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