The right diet for acid reflux focuses on revamping your meals so that the food you eat is easy on the tummy, while also being nutritious and healthy so that your compromised gut is better able to absorb all the nutrients.
However, we want to stress on this. Eating right for GERD does not mean you will be eating just simple, bland, joyless food all the time! The right heartburn diet focuses on removing common GERD triggers from your diet and replacing them with delicious alternatives that do no compromise on great taste. Making just a few diet modifications to your current diet will help quell acidity, bloating and acid reflux to a large degree. Remember, every journey has a starting point and so does the right diet for acid reflux.
Tailoring your Diet to Deal with GERD Symptoms
Symptoms of acid reflux differ from patient to patient. However, some common symptoms of GERD include:
- Burning sensation in the chest of stomach post meals
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lump in the throat
- Vomiting or Regurgitation
- Bitter and sometimes sour taste in the mouth
Many people with GERD find that certain foods trigger their symptoms.
However, be aware that no single diet can prevent all symptoms of GERD, and food triggers are different for everyone.
To identify your individual triggers, a good trick is to maintain a food diary to track the following:
- Foods you eat
- Meal timings and how your body responds to eating at that particular time
- Symptoms experienced post meal, where you have charted down all components of your meal
Keep the diary for at least a month. It’s helpful to track your diet for a longer period if it varies. You’ll use the diary to identify specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD.
Foods to Eat with GERD
While GERD triggers differ from patient to patient, there are a few foods to eat with GERD that are universally beneficial to everyone who suffers from acid reflux.
- Green leafy vegetables, along with other vegetables, as they are naturally low in fat and sugar and help reduce stomach acid. Eat more of green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, and cucumbers.
- Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. Drink a cup of ginger tea a couple times a day or grate fresh ginger to add flavor and goodness to home-cooked meals.
- Oatmeal 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 wholegrains like couscous, quinoa and brown rice are also excellent options.
- Potatoes are great sources of healthy carbs and digestible fiber, but make sure to avoid adding onion and garlic during preparation, as these are common irritants.
- Non-citrus fruits like melons, bananas, apples, berries and pears are good for your diet and rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Choose to grill, broil, bake, and poach your meats.
- Eggs are a good option, but ignore the yolks if you find that they trigger your acid reflux.
- Healthy fats like olive oil, butter, avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, and nuts.
- Probiotics replenish friendly gut flora to help correct imbalances in the small intestine, along with digestive enzymes. A pilot study done by Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah, suggests probiotics significantly improve the reflux, distention/ bloating, and total GIT scales in patients. Enjoy Greek Yogurt or plain yogurt with your meal or as a snack or add a healthy dose to your breakfast smoothie. Kefir, Kimchi and Sauerkraut are other great options.
Foods to Avoid with GERD
Although doctors debate which foods actually cause reflux symptoms, certain foods have been shown to cause problems for many people with the disease. This list of foods to avoid with GERD is fairly well-recognized by most physicians and GERD specialists
- Fatty or fried foods
- Processed high-fat meats like bacon and packaged pork sausages
- Vegetable oils
- Whole milk
- Most fast foods like burgers, wraps and pizzas
- Citrus fruits and Juices like grapefruit, orange, lime, pineapple etc.
- Tomatoes and tomato paste
- Onions and garlic
- Canned foods and soups
- Caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- High-fat Desserts or snacks such as ice cream and potato chips
- Spicy or acidic foods can also be a trigger, like chilies and pickles
- Cream sauces, gravies, and creamy salad dressings
What Does Research About Diet For Acid Reflux?
According to research, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a GERD and heartburn diet. While no one particular diet has been proven to prevent GERD, adding a few healthy foods to your diet and eliminating common GERD triggers does ease symptoms in some people.
An Australian research published in American Journal of Gastroenterology found that gluten can be a trigger for gastrointestinal symptoms in non-celiac individuals, so it makes sense to cut out all wheat and wheat-based foods from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if that helps with your acid reflux symptoms.
Research done at University of California, San Francisco shows that increased fiber intake, specifically in the form of fruits and vegetables, may protect against a number of digestive issues, including GERD.
However, it’s best to discuss with your doctor if you have doubts about certain foods and if they should be a part of your heartburn diet. Know that foods that help improve acid reflux for one person may be a trigger for someone else. Bear in mind that when you eat may be just as important as what you eat. A particular food that triggers acid reflux when eaten close to bedtime may be harmless when eaten earlier in the day.
At this point, I would like us to ask the question – “Is there some way to reboot digestion, so you can eat everything you want and not feel GERD?” I would like us to introduce a couple of paragraphs about the work of U.S. Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. John Douillard. Ayurveda has always maintained that by maintaining the proper stomach acid levels, you should be able to eat age-appropriate quantities of all foods – including spicy and rich ones.
If you keep eliminating foods because they cause GERD reactions, you will be left with a smaller list of permitted foods each year and will face other health challenges. Instead, you want to first cleanse your digestion – from stomach to gallbladder to liver to colon – using fasting, gentle herbs and enemas if needed – and then, re-introduce foods.
The real villain of digestion is our inability to digest the environmental poisons that are found on all produce today in the U.S. and the vast consumption of processed foods. Here is a link to a podcast on the subject of why everyone should be able to eat wheat and gluten. http://lifespa.com/why-question-your-digestion/
People with GERD can usually manage their symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes along with some natural supplements. Talk to your doctor if lifestyle changes and medications don’t improve symptoms.