Many people have suffered from occasional acid reflux but for some it is an everyday occurrence. Chronic acid reflux is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.) GERD occurs when there is acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged. Someone suffering from GERD does not have a LES that closes up properly thus acid backflow leaks upward into the throat and even into the mouth. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn; however, other symptoms include vomiting or regurgitation, dry cough, sore throat, bloating, burping or hiccups, or difficulty swallowing.
Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include obesity, a hiatal hernia, pregnancy, smoking, dry mouth, asthma, diabetes and excessive drinking. In addition, the foods you eat affect the amount of acid your stomach produces. The following foods are common triggers amongst people who suffer from GERD: high fat and fried foods; acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruit; carbonated beverages; caffeine; chocolate; garlic, onions and other spicy foods.
While there is no specific diet that can eliminate GERD in all patients, there are certain foods that you can incorporate into your diet to manage symptoms of acid reflux. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables. These along with other vegetables, are naturally low in fat and sugar and help reduce stomach acid. Incorporate ginger into your diet. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. Start your day with oatmeal. Oatmeal can absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of reflux. Choose lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Lastly, make healthy fats a part of your diet such as avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil.
If you suffer from GERD, try keeping a food log and track what foods you eat, what time of day you eat, and what symptoms you experience. Try to keep this log for at least a week. You can use the log to identify specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD and the symptoms that occur. In addition, this food log can help you and your doctor and/or nutritionist develop a food plan that can help treat or minimize your symptoms.
Denise Hulett, MS is a nutrition, personal trainer and owner of Restorative Fitness and Nutrition in Sugar Land, Texas. She has a Masters in health and nutrition education and focuses on helping clients use nutrition to enhance their lives and their health. For more information, visit www.restorativefitnessandnutrition.com.