- Acid Reflux Diet: 8 Foods To Eat & Avoid
- December 17, 2019
- 8 Foods that make acid reflux worse
- 8 Foods that help acid reflux
- GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
- Foods That May Cause Heartburn
- Foods That Help Prevent Acid Reflux
- The Must-Know Tips to Kickstart Your GERD Diet Plan
- 11 Meal Planning Tips to Prevent Heartburn
- GERD Diet Planning
Acid Reflux Diet: 8 Foods To Eat & Avoid
December 17, 2019
Acid reflux, that irritating backflow of stomach acid up into your esophagus, is often triggered by what you eat and drink. Eat the wrong food and you’re sure to feel the burn. Some foods are known to cause reflux more than others.
Quick reminder: If you have heartburn more than twice per week, you may have a more serious condition called GERD – schedule an appointment today.
Here are 8 foods to avoid if you have acid reflux, and 8 foods that keep you free from the burn and keep you healthier overall. A win-win!
8 Foods that make acid reflux worse
- Chocolate — Everyone’s favorite treat comes with a dark side; chocolate contains caffeine, cocoa, and plant chemicals that can all trigger heartburn. Also, a chemical in cocoa relaxes the LES, making it easier for stomach contents to leak into your esophagus.
- Peppermint — Known for soothing an irritable bowel, peppermint has the opposite effect on acid reflux. Peppermint relaxes the muscles used for digestion, and a relaxed LES is a leaky LES.
- Fatty foods — If you feel like fatty foods make you sluggish, you’re right. They relax your LES and are slower to digest than other foods. When food sits in your stomach longer, your body responds by making more acid. Fried foods like onion rings are obvious culprits, but meats like prime rib or bacon, and whole milk dairy products also cause symptoms.
- Spicy foods — Spicy foods make acid reflux worse in two ways. First, the capsaicin in many spicy foods can slow digestion. But before it even gets that far, it can irritate an already irritated esophagus on its way down.
- Acidic foods and drinks — Acidic foods are common triggers of acid reflux. Foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato products, pineapple, and vinaigrette salad dressings all have a high acid content, contributing to an already acidic environment.
- Garlic — Garlic, especially raw, is known to cause heartburn and upset stomach in healthy people. That makes it even more likely to cause issues for those who suffer from acid reflux.
- Onions — Raw onions don’t just make you cry; they stimulate acid production. That extra acid puts you at risk for heartburn.
- Drinks containing alcohol, caffeine, or carbonation — Alcohol and caffeine both relax the LES, allowing acid to leak up your esophagus. The bubbles in carbonation expand your stomach, pushing stomach contents up against the LES. That makes soda, coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages all triggers. Be especially careful with mixed drinks, which could combine triggers.
8 Foods that help acid reflux
- Vegetables and non-citrus fruits — Aside from the “bad” foods listed above, nearly all fruits and vegetables help reduce stomach acid. They’re also low fat, low sugar, and provide fiber and important nutrients.
- Whole grains — High fiber, whole-grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain breads help stop symptoms of acid reflux. They are a good source of fiber and may help absorb stomach acid.
- Lean protein — Low-fat, lean sources of protein also reduce symptoms. Good choices are chicken, seafood, tofu, and egg whites. The best ways to prepare them are baked, broiled, poached, or grilled.
- Beans, peas, and lentils — Along with being good sources of fiber, beans, peas, and lentils also provide protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts and seeds — Many nuts and seeds provide fiber and nutrients and may help absorb stomach acid. Almonds, peanuts, chia, pomegranate, and flaxseeds are all healthy choices.
- Yogurt — Not only is yogurt soothing to an irritated esophagus, but it provides probiotics that support your digestive tract. It’s also good source of protein.
- Healthy fats — Fat is a necessary nutrient but eating too many fatty foods can trigger acid reflux. Replacing unhealthy fats with unsaturated fats can help. Avocados, olive oil, walnuts, and soy products are good choices for healthy fats.
- Ginger — Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used throughout history for gastrointestinal problems. Ginger can be added to smoothies, soups, stir fry, or other dishes, or steeped as a tea.
If acid reflux is impacting your quality of life, or if you have acid reflux more than twice a week, schedule an appointment with one of the experts at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio.
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid flows up out of the stomach and into the esophagus, causing symptoms generally described as heartburn. More than one third of adults experience GERD symptoms at some point during their lives. You should not be discouraged by this statistic because these symptoms can often be prevented by making a few changes to your diet and/or lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at some common triggers for GERD symptoms and what changes you can make to manage your GERD.
Common GERD Trigger Foods
Certain foods are more likely to trigger GERD symptoms. GERD triggers can be very individual, and this is by no means an all-inclusive list. Chocolate is one trigger because it can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the band of muscles which generally keeps stomach acid contained within the stomach. Alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine can also cause acid reflux in some GERD sufferers. Highly acidic foods and drinks such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and carbonated beverages can increase the amount of acidity in the stomach and make symptoms worse. You might find that not all of these trigger foods affect you, though some people are affected by them all.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
The timing of your meals can also affect your GERD symptoms. Try to avoid eating just before you go to bed, as lying down after you eat can allow acid to leak out into your esophagus. Overweight GERD sufferers may see tremendous benefit from losing weight, so try starting a healthier diet and exercise routine. Decreasing consumption of fatty foods can help with weight loss and with increasing the speed at which the stomach empties, potentially reducing symptoms.
Identifying Your Own Triggers
We are all different and triggers that affect one person might not be a problem for another. Keeping a food diary for a few weeks can help you keep track of the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience. This should help you to identify which foods are your biggest GERD triggers so you can avoid them in the future. Please note that symptoms might not occur immediately after you eat a trigger food; it could take a few hours for acid to rise in your stomach.
Moderation Is Key
Moderation is the key to a GERD diet. Eating smaller portions of food can improve your symptoms. In addition, many people are able to tolerate small amounts of their trigger foods. This means you may not have to completely give up your favorite treats… you just have to restrict yourself to a few pieces of chocolate rather than the entire bar!
Seeking Help with GERD
Many people find that seeking professional help makes it easier for them to develop and stick to a diet which can improve their GERD. As a result, their symptoms often become easier to manage.
Do you need help managing your GERD symptoms? Call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates today to schedule an appointment.
A tight sensation in the chest, tummy bloat, a burning splash that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Chances are you’ve dealt with this painful and unpleasant occurrence at some point.
More than 60 million Americans will experience heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million suffer from it daily, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. Clinically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux refers to the flow of stomach acid back up into the esophagus, irritating the tube that connects the throat with the stomach.
“There is a ring of muscle fibers at the bottom of the esophagus called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), which is there to prevent food from coming back up,” explains Maria Bella, M.S., R.D., founder of Top Balance Nutrition and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Acid Reflux Diet. “If the LES doesn’t fully close, stomach contents can leak from the stomach into esophagus. That’s the reflux.”
Bella adds that some of the most common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, coughing and chest pain, which tends to get worse when reclining. Numerous factors can increase your risk of developing GERD, such as:
- Alcohol use
- Certain medications (anticholinergics, beta-blockers, bronchodilators, calcium channel blockers, dopamine active drugs, progestin, sedatives, tricyclic antidepressants)
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
Taking meds with plenty of water, avoiding late-night meals and waiting at least two hours before lying down can help, but changing your diet might make the biggest difference of all.
Heartburn triggers vary from person to person, but processed meats, fried foods, baked goods, spices, citrus, alcohol and soda are some of the worst acid-promoting offenders.
“Filling up on plant-based protein and making more of your meals and snacks veggie- and fruit-based can help,” advises Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “If you feel like you’re regularly suffering from heartburn and indigestion, consider keeping a food log to help spot potential triggers.”
While no food actually prevents or reverses GERD, Bella states that some could help alleviate the internal burn. “There is not a strong body of evidence to support these claims, but the following foods have been shown anecdotally and in a number of small studies to ease the symptoms associated with reflux,” she says.
GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
Getting a case of acid reflux (heartburn) once in a while isn’t unusual, but some people suffer from burning discomfort, bloating and belching almost every time they eat. About 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic acid reflux condition that’s diagnosed by a doctor.
Normally, the esophageal sphincter (a muscular tube that lets food pass into the stomach and then cinches shut to block it from coming back up) protects the esophagus from stomach acid. However, if the sphincter relaxes, food can push upward through the loosened opening and cause acid reflux.
“Diet plays a major role in controlling acid reflux symptoms and is the first line of therapy used for people with GERD,” says Ekta Gupta, M.B.B.S., M.D., gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Foods That May Cause Heartburn
Foods commonly known to be heartburn triggers cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and delay the digestive process, letting food sit in the stomach longer, says Gupta. The worst culprits? Foods that are high in fat, salt or spice such as:
- Fried food
- Fast food
- Potato chips and other processed snacks
- Chili powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
- Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
Other foods that can cause the same problem include:
- Tomato-based sauces
- Citrus fruits
- Carbonated beverages
“Moderation is key since many people may not be able to or want to completely eliminate these foods,” says Gupta. “But try to avoid eating problem foods late in the evening closer to bedtime, so they’re not sitting in your stomach and then coming up your esophagus when you lay down at night. It’s also a good idea to eat small frequent meals instead of bigger, heavier meals and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks.”
Foods That Help Prevent Acid Reflux
Good news: There are plenty of things you can eat to help prevent acid reflux. Stock your kitchen with foods from these three categories:
The Must-Know Tips to Kickstart Your GERD Diet Plan
If you’ve experienced the painful, burning sensations of gastroesophageal reflux disease, you know how uncomfortable it can be—and you’re probably very motivated to find a solution.
The good news is that a solution is indeed out there waiting for people with GERD. The trick is to find it. The thing is, different foods are triggers for different people. So it may take a bit of effort for you to find what works for you.
First, a quick refresher: Acid reflux happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. When the condition is long-lasting and serious, it’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease—and it’s time to do something about it. Here’s how you can kick-start your GERD diet plan and reduce symptoms.
Stick to a Trigger-Free Diet
If you want to figure out a GERD diet plan that will work for you quickly, then the easiest way to do that is to start out with a diet that includes only GERD-safe foods. They include:
- Cereal, oatmeal, quinoa, bread and pasta
- Brown rice
- Saltines and graham crackers
- Bananas, apples, pineapple and watermelon
- Salad greens, steamed broccoli, radishes and other fresh vegetables (not tomatoes)
- Skim milk and low-fat yogurt
- Lean meats
- Skinless chicken breast and turkey (not fried)
- Egg whites
- Baked or boiled potatoes
- Fat-free snacks, like baked potato chips, pretzels and fat-free cookies
That’s not all that exciting, right? The point is to stick with that bland diet for a few days, and then you’re on to the next step …
Introduce Possible Trigger Foods One by One
Your next task is to bring back foods that you like, one at a time, and keep track of any symptoms of GERD you feel after consuming them. Here are the foods that are likely to cause symptoms:
• Tomatoes and citrus fruits/juices. The high acid content in these foods makes them some of the worst for GERD sufferers.
• Foods high in fat. Cheese, French fries, prime rib, dairy products and ice cream can cause heartburn in many GERD sufferers. That’s because fat slows down the emptying of the stomach, which puts pressure on the esophageal sphincter. This also includes fried foods, fatty foods and processed foods.
• Garlic, onion and spicy foods. Not everyone who suffers from GERD has a problem with these. Add them back in to your diet one by one to see which ones are OK for you.
• Mint and chocolate. Like coffee, these foods can chemically cause the lower esophageal sphincter to loosen, triggering acid reflux.
• Coffee. Coffee works negatively in two ways. It’s been shown to decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter, which invites stomach contents to come in. Caffeine also stimulates acid secretion. You might try a lower-acidity coffee first, then proceed to other types of coffee if you don’t have any symptoms.
• Alcohol. While alcohol is a known contributing factor to GERD, it affects everyone differently.
• Carbonated drinks. The carbonation in soda can cause the stomach to distend and bloat, placing extra strain on the lower esophageal sphincter.
Remember, too, that just because coffee is OK and Danishes are OK, that doesn’t mean they’ll be OK if you eat them at the same time. The key is to pay close attention (you might even keep a food journal) and see what foods and food combinations cause trouble for you, and incorporate that into your GERD diet plan.
Most people can resolve their GERD long term by making diet and lifestyle changes (quitting smoking and weight loss are also helpful, in addition to watching what you eat.) Remember, too, that this isn’t a battle you need to forge on your own. To learn more about GERD, today!
11 Meal Planning Tips to Prevent Heartburn
If you have frequent or occasional heartburn, you can help decrease the tendency of the LES to relax, and decrease the likelihood that the stomach contents (and stomach acid) will splash up toward the LES by keeping in mind a few tips:
Avoid lying down for two to three hours after eating. When you lie down, it’s physically easier for stomach contents to splash up toward the LES. By sitting up or standing, gravity helps stomach contents stay where they belong — at the bottom of the stomach.
Avoid items that weaken the LES muscle (like chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods) and foods and beverages that may irritate a damaged esophagus lining (citrus and citrus juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, and chili peppers and black pepper).
Avoid eating large meals because the more volume in the stomach, the more likely the stomach contents will splash toward the LES. Try eating four to five small meals instead of two or three large ones.
Avoid high-fat meals because they tend to stay in the stomach longer; greasy or fried foods can also weaken the LES muscle.
Avoid smoking and avoid alcohol before, during, or after meals that seem to result in heartburn (like dinner). Both smoking and alcohol weaken the LES muscle.
Try waiting at least two hours after a meal before exercising if you find your heartburn seems to get worse after exercise.
Chew gum (a nonpeppermint flavor) after meals to stimulate saliva production (the bicarbonate in saliva neutralizes acid) and increase peristalsis (which helps move the stomach contents into the small intestine more quickly).
Plan your meals to encourage slow but sure weight loss if you are overweight. Extra weight around the midsection, especially, can press against the stomach and increase the pressure going up toward the LES.
Drink a small glass of water at the end of meals to help dilute and wash down any stomach acid that might be splashing up into the esophagus, suggests Shekhar Challa, MD, president of Kansas Medical Clinic and author of Spurn The Burn: Treat The Heat.
- Plan on heartburn-friendly beverages like water, mineral water, decaffeinated tea, noncitrus juices, or nonfat or low-fat milk. Beverages to avoid include:
- Sodas: These can bloat the abdomen, increasing the pressure in the stomach and encouraging stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus.
- Juices: Tomato and citrus juices can irritate a damaged esophagus.
- Alcoholic beverages, coffee (even decaf) and caffeinated tea and cola can increase the acid content in the stomach as well as relax the LES.
Eat a high fiber diet! A recent study found that people who followed a high-fiber meal plan were 20% less likely to have acid reflux symptoms, regardless of their body weight. You’ll find fiber in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds (basically unprocessed plant foods).
If you are following a GERD diet you should avoid large meals, eat small meals frequently, cut down on fatty food and not eat within 2-3 hours of bedtime. Keep a diary or mental note of foods eaten and their effect. If you are following an acid reflux diet this will help to decide which foods are causing the problem. With an acid reflux diet, avoid acidic foods, spicy and hot foods. Also avoid extremely hot foods and drinks. Let foods and drinks cool before consuming them. Drinking very hot drinks has been shown to correlate with gastric and duodenal ulcers and should be avoided when on a reflux diet.
Type of Food
Foods to Avoid
|Fruit and Fruit Juices||
||High in fat and slow to digest||
||High in fat and slow to digest||
||Relaxes smooth muscle sphincter at lower esophagus||
Fatty foods are slow to digest and delay emptying of the stomach and should be avoided in a gerd diet. Some foods such as milk, dairy products and alcohol increase acid production by the stomach. Foods such as peppermint and chocolate relax the lower esophageal sphincter and may contribute to heartburn. Spicy foods can be irritant to the lower esophagus especially if it has been irritated by the reflux of stomach acid and juices. Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and irritate the stomach lining.
GERD Diet – Safe foods
To prevent heartburn and when following an acid reflux diet it is best to eat a low fat diet with lots of fibre, fresh fruit and vegetables. Low fat foods are digested more quickly and leave the stomach faster. They cause less pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. High fibre foods pass through the colon more quickly and reduce constipation. This helps to prevent the increase in intra-abdominal pressure that is caused by constipation. Drink fresh water instead of coffee and carbonated drinks. Choose lean meats such as chicken without the skin and extra lean ground beef. There are lots of tasty recipes and delicious foods that do not cause heartburn. There are gourmet diet plan foods and delicious recipes that can be tried. Other natural drinks that help include cabbage juice which contains glutamine that can help to heal stomach ulcers. Sipping chamomile tea between meals may help. There is tremendous variation between individuals. Tolerance of many of the foods on reflux diet plans is individual. Some people may be able to tolerate mints but be unable to eat tomatoes and vice versa. The only way to find out for certain is by trial and error and keeping a diary or mental record. Generally it is advisable to follow a restricted diet to start with. When the symptoms of acidity have resolved then cautiously reintroduce foods on an individual trial basis.
More about Acid Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs because of the failure of the normal anti-reflux mechanism to protect against frequent and abnormal amounts of gastroesophageal reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the effortless movement of gastric contents from the stomach up into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux is not itself a disease, but a normal physiological process. It occurs in virtually everyone, many times every day, especially after large meals, without resulting in symptoms or signs of mucosal damage. By contrast, Esophageal reflux is a spectrum of disease usually producing symptoms of heartburn and acid regurgitation. Most patients have no visible mucosal injury when they have and endoscopy (non-erosive GERD or GORD), whereas others have esophagitis, peptic strictures, Barrett esophagus, or symptoms of extra-esophageal diseases such as chest pain, pulmonary symptoms, or ear, nose, and throat symptoms. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a multifactorial process and one of the most common human diseases. It also has great economic importance. It is estimated that in the USA about 4-5 billion dollars per year are spent on antacid medications!
GERD Diet Planning
If you suffer from heratburn, you are very aware that what you eat as a major effect on how you feel. Eating foods that aggravate your heartburn often leads to some regret later. You soon learn that certain foods need to be avoided to control your symptoms of heartburn. The difficulty is that people vary and finding which foods to avoid and which are safe to eat can be difficult.
Try Keeping a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary for a few weeks is a good way of learning which foods upset your acid reflux disease. It can be time-consuming recording all the foods that you eat but if you suffer badly from acid reflux it is a good way of deciding which types of food trigger your heartburn symptoms. Heartburn triggers do vary from person-to-person but there are certain foods that typically cause problems for example acidic foods and fatty foods. It is a good idea to divide the foods that you’re eating into various categories such as meats, fruits, beverages, vegetables, grains, fatty foods, snacks and dairy products. After you have been monitoring and recording for a while you will gradually build up a picture of the foods that make your acid reflux disease worse.
Foods to avoid
Some acid reflux disease sufferers are able to tolerate rich and spicy foods with no problem, whilst others with acid reflux are unable to even tolerate a single bite of a rich and spicy food. This is also true for many other food types as well. However there are certain foods that most people on a GERD diet should avoid. These include:
- Fatty, greasy and fried foods
- Whole milk or dairy products
- Acidic foods such as tomatoes and orange juice
- Caffeine containing drinks
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Spicy and hot foods
Foods that are safe
If you suffer from acid reflux disease, do not panic and think that there are no foods that you are able to eat when you have acid reflux disease. Please be reassured that there are plenty of tasty alternatives to the food items which have been listed above
To give an example, instead of eating chips (french fries) or fried potatoes try baking potatoes or baking wedges of potato in the oven. As an alternative to whole fat milk, try using skimmed milk or low fat milk instead. Other alternatives to full fat milk include soya milk and rice milk.
If you suffer from heartburn, what are the types of food that you can safely enjoy? Here are few suggestions to enable you to start planning your eating menu:
- Low fat dairy
- Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, papaya, melon, mango, pear and many more
- Vegetables such cabbage, broccoli, peas, leeks, carrots, cucumber and more
- Ketchup – but it is sensible to use in small amounts
- Low fat cakes and cookies
- Non-caffeinated/carbonated drinks like herbal tea, water, and more
- Pretzels, baked chips, crackers, etc.
- Lean meats such as chicken and game
- Whole Grains
Producing a GERD Diet Menu Plan
When you plan your weekly menu, make certain to choose foodstuffs that will help your stomach digest better what you are eating you in order to prevent your stomach from producing too much acid and leading to acid reflux.
Here are some excellent choices to add to your acid reflux diet menu:
Low Fat Protein Foods
Foods which are high in protein such as lean meats, chicken, game, fish and even protein powders can be included in your recipes or made into speciality drinks can help to increase the muscle tone of the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). This helps to close that important valve after the food has passed down into your stomach. This helps to prevent the stomach acids are refluxing back up into your lower oesophagus and causing heartburn.
High Fibre Foods
Medical research has shown that those individuals who eat a diet which is high in fibre develop less damage in their lower oesophagus when compared with those who eat a diet low in high-fibre foods. Therefore try to eat foods which are unprocessed and unrefined and high in fibre such as wholemeal bread and high-fibre cereals.
Tropical fruits such as papaya and pineapple have been shown to contain plenty of papain and bromelain. These enzymes are thought to help to improve digestion by the stomach and reduce the amount of acid produced by the gastric mucosa (stomach lining).
Therefore, when you are drawing up and planning a new GERD diet plan for you to follow, remember to include plenty of fresh foodstuffs that fit into the healthy reflux diet food choices. It is okay to occasionally eat something on the avoid list, provided that you do this only occasionally. It is difficult sometimes to maintain the motivation to keep up with an acid reflux diet but keep reminding yourself of the health benefits in addition to the fact that your unpleasant symptoms of heartburn will soon disappear.
Eating a low fat, high fibre diet which contains a wide variety of fruit and vegetables is not only good for acid reflux disease but also helps to prevent serious medical conditions such as heart disease, strokes and many types of cancer.