Acid Reflux Diet and Nutrition Guide
Learn more about the foods that are generally best to avoid if you have GERD. Some of these include tomatoes, citrus fruit, and chocolate.
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Diet and nutrition for
Acid reflux occurs when
there is acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus. This happens when the
lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged. Normally the LES should
close to prevent food in the stomach from moving up into the esophagus.
The foods you eat affect
the amount of acid your stomach produces. So eating the right kinds of food is
key to controlling acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a
severe, chronic form of acid reflux.
your diet to deal with GERD symptoms
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
GERD can also cause vomiting or regurgitation as acid moves into your
esophagus. Other symptoms include:
- dry cough
- sore throat
- burping or hiccups
- lump in the
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
- what time of
day you eat
- what symptoms
Keep the diary for at least a week. It’s helpful to track your foods
for a longer period if your diet varies. You’ll use the diary to identify
specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD.
Also, the following diet and nutrition guide 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
trigger foods for people with reflux
Although doctors debate which foods actually cause
reflux symptoms, certain foods have been shown to cause problems for many
people with the disease. To control your symptoms, you could start by
eliminating the following foods from your diet.
Fried and fatty foods can cause the LES to relax,
allowing more stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. These foods also
delay stomach emptying. Eating high-fat foods puts you at greater risk for
reflux symptoms, so reducing your total daily fat intake can help.
The following foods have a high fat content. Avoid these
or eat them sparingly:
- french fries
and onion rings
- full-fat dairy
products such as butter, whole milk, regular cheese, and sour cream
- fatty or fried
cuts of beef, pork, or lamb
- bacon fat, ham
fat, and lard
desserts or snacks such as ice cream and potato chips
- cream sauces,
gravies, and creamy salad dressings
Tomatoes and citrus fruit
Fruits and vegetables are important to
a healthy diet. But certain fruits can cause or worsen GERD symptoms,
especially highly acidic fruits. If you have frequent acid reflux, you should
reduce or eliminate your intake of the following foods:
- tomato sauce
(or foods where tomato sauce or paste is a main ingredient, such as pizza or
Chocolate contains an ingredient called
methylxanthine. It has been shown to relax the smooth muscle in the LES and
Garlic, onions, and spicy foods
Spicy and tangy foods, like onions and garlic,
trigger heartburn symptoms in many people.
These foods won’t trigger reflux in everyone. But if
you eat a lot of onions or garlic, make sure to track your meals carefully in
your diary. Some of these foods, along with spicy foods may bother you more
What the research says
No diet has been proven to
prevent GERD. However, certain foods may ease symptoms in some people.
Talk to your doctor if you
have questions about whether certain foods should be included in your diet.
Foods that help improve acid reflux for one person may be problematic for someone
Working with your doctor
can also help you develop a diet to control or lessen your symptoms.
Research shows that increased fiber intake, specifically in
the form of fruits and vegetables, may protect against a number of digestive
issues, including GERD. But scientists are not yet certain how fiber prevents
Increasing your dietary
fiber is generally a good idea. In addition to helping with GERD symptoms,
fiber also reduces the risk of:
and other bowel problems
Seven foods that may
help reduce your symptoms
There are specific foods
you can incorporate into your diet to manage symptoms of acid reflux. Here are
- Green leafy vegetables, along with other vegetables, are naturally low in
fat and sugar and help reduce stomach acid. Options include green beans,
broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, and cucumbers.
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.
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.
- Noncitrus fruits include melons, bananas, apples, and pears.
- Lean meats
like grilled, broiled, baked, and poached chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood
are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
- Egg whites
are an option, but ignore the yolks as they are high in fat and may trigger
- Healthier 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.
In addition to controlling
reflux symptoms with diet and nutrition, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle
changes. For example:
- take antacids
and other medications that reduce acid production
- chew gum that
isn’t peppermint or spearmint flavored
- avoid alcohol
- remain upright
for at least two hours after eating
- don't eat 3 to
4 hours before bed
- stop smoking
- don’t overeat
- raise the head
of your bed 4 to 6 inches to reduce reflux symptoms while sleeping
What is the outlook for
People with GERD can
usually manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter
medications. Talk to your doctor if lifestyle changes and medications don’t
Your doctor can recommend
prescription medications, or in extreme cases, surgery.
Robin Madell and Valencia Higuera
Medically Reviewed by:
Oct 31, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.