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The best and worst foods for GERD

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Is your diet triggering your symptoms?

Many people are used to the occasional bout of acid reflux, when stomach acid washes up the esophagus, causing a fiery sensation that extends from your chest to your throat, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.

But if you’re experiencing acid reflux at least twice a week, your symptoms are interfering with your day-to-day life, or a doctor sees damage to your esophagus, you could have GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease.

While there are OTC meds you can take and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) your doctor can prescribe to ease your symptoms, making a few dietary changes could keep your stomach acid exactly where it’s supposed to be.

Incorporate more of these gut-friendly foods into your diet:

According to DrAxe.com, “a plant-based diet that includes lots of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, water, and fiber may help you heal faster.” All of these are crucial to controlling free-radical damage, maintaining healthy bacteria in the stomach, regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, and avoiding nutrient deficiencies. Here are a few tasty treats that fit these standards and are easy to digest:

  • Oatmeal. Oatmeal is full of healthy fiber and extremely filling—it soaks stomach acid right up!
  • Lots and lots of vegetables. Almost all varieties and colors of fresh veggies are naturally low in fat and sugar, and most importantly, are not acidic. Steer clear of tomatoes, garlic, and onions, though.
  • Non-citrus fruits. Anti-inflammatory fruits like pineapple, watermelon, and papaya are not only refreshing but have an alkalizing effect in the body and are great for digestion.
  • Ginger. A long-known treatment for stomach issues, ginger is full of melatonin, which not only makes you sleepy but reduces gastric acid.
  • Bone broth. This superfood (or shall we say drink) is chock-full of amino acids, minerals, electrolytes, collagen, and antioxidants—all of which are known to heal the gut.

Avoid eating these offenders:

While the actual foods aren’t what’s causing your acid reflux, certain ingredients can be triggers. Prevention.com says that things like eating too close to bedtime, chowing down on meals that are too large or too close together, consuming too much alcohol, and having a high BMI can also increase your likelihood of GERD symptoms.

  • Chocolate. Sorry to all GERD sufferers with a sweet tooth! Chocolate has a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—a bundle of muscles that separates the esophagus from the stomach, according to EatThis.com. When the LES is relaxed, it doesn’t prevent food from traveling back up after it’s reached the stomach.
  • Caffeinated and carbonated beverages. An extra jolt and fizzy bubbles can lead to lots of pressure and burning in the esophagus. Stick to water for your hydration needs.
  • Spicy foods. Steer clear of anything with cayenne, chili pepper, hot sauce, and cinnamon to avoid acid reflux. If you can’t live without a little heat, try milder versions of what you’re used to.
  • Mint. Mint (especially peppermint) is known as a stomach soother. But when it comes to GERD, it soothes the stomach just a bit too much. Mint has the same effect as chocolate, preventing the LES from doing its job.
  • The eight most common food allergies. Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities usually fall in one of eight categories: dairy, gluten/wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, soy, and fish. Reactions can vary—many doctors recommend keeping a food log to track your triggers.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, make an appointment with the experts at Gastroenterology Associates of Pensacola. Call 850-474-8988 or visit them online at endo-world.com.