Foots to Eat and Avoid With GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid reenters the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. The backwash of this acid is known as acid reflux. Different foods and lifestyle habits can present symptoms of acid reflux from time to time, yet GERD is when an individual experiences acid reflux at least twice a week. This chronic disease is accompanied by various uncomfortable symptoms, some of which can be eased by eating certain foods and avoiding others.
GERD Symptoms And Risk Factors
According to John Hopkins Medicine, roughly 20 percent of the population has been diagnosed with GERD. GERD is an ongoing digestive system disorder that can present itself in a number of different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Burning in the chest or chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- The feeling of a lump in your throat
Some risk factors include overweight and obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and certain medication. Here at Birmingham Gastroenterology, we understand how this disease can get in the way of day-to-day life. However, individuals can often manage it with a GERD-friendly diet.
Foods To Eat
Specific diets can be used as therapy as they can help address particular foods that are beneficial or non-beneficial for problems in the body. Although none of these foods are guaranteed to ease all symptoms, they are certainly worth trying.
On top of their impeccable track record for being one of the most nutritious foods, vegetables can also help ease acid reflux and GERD. Vegetables like lettuce, celery, sweet peppers, and cucumbers all hold water and are easy on the stomach. Additionally, vegetables are low fat, low sugar, and essential to an overall healthy diet.
Lean and low-fat protein choices can reduce your symptoms. Good options include egg whites, chicken breast, tofu, and seafood. Additionally, protein is an important nutrient for growing and repairing cells.
Similar to protein, your body needs fats to function. However, some fat sources have been noted to worsen GERD symptoms. Some healthy fats to include in your diet include avocados, olive oil, sesame oil, and flax seeds. A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of saturated fats in meats and dairy products and trans fats in processed foods and butter.
Complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, and beans are not only good for GERD symptoms but are also nutrient-dense and a great source of fiber. However, you’re not cooking your GERD-friendly foods with non-GERD-friendly accompaniments such as onions and garlic.
Foods To Avoid
Certain foods tend to aggravate your esophagus, encouraging GERD symptoms. Although these foods do not always equate to acid reflux and heartburn, Aboutgerd.org suggests these foods have been shown to cause problems for many people.
Capsaicin is a chemical compound found in many foods, as it is derived from chili peppers. Capsaicin tends to slow down digestion and in return, causes food to sit in the stomach for extended periods of time. Additionally, spicy foods tend to irritate the esophagus, worsening heartburn, and GERD.
Although full of nutrients and antioxidants, tomatoes are likely to cause heartburn due to their high acidity levels. And don’t be fooled; tomatoes come in many forms that can all trigger heartburn in some people, such as pizza sauce, pasta sauce, and ketchup.
Alcohol, Caffeine, Or Carbonation
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring-shaped muscle located at the opening of your lower esophagus. Drinks such as alcohol and caffeine relax the LES, allowing acid to leak up your esophagus. Similarly, the bubbles in carbonated beverages expand your stomach, pushing stomach contents up against your LES.
Fried food often has very little nutritional value and often causes heartburn. Fried food prevents the LES from fully tightening, and stimulates the release of esophageal irritants like bile salts. Steering clear of fatty, greasy foods decreases your risk of not only acid reflux but obesity and diabetes, too.
Birmingham Gastroenterology can help you set a plan of which foods to eat and avoid when it comes to your specific GERD symptoms. We have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options or ask questions about activities that help aid digestion, call us at (205) 271-8000.