Acid reflux is a disorder wherein acid flows back from the stomach into the esophagus. The condition is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or simply GERD.
This occurs when a person’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES) becomes depleted.
This is because the LES’ function is to close in order to stop food from flowing back up into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
People who have acid reflux may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Constant burping and bloating of the stomach
- A dry cough
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Irritation and possible bleeding of the gums
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Lump in the throat or a sore throat
- Trouble with sleeping
- Loss of appetite
The symptoms vary from one person to another, depending on the severity of the damage to the esophagus.
The acid reflux diet
The kind of food you eat plays a vital role in the acid production of your stomach. The secret to managing acid reflux is to eat the right kinds of food.
To prevent or relieve acid reflux, an improvement in the diet and lifestyle is necessary.
Determining and avoiding “trigger” foods
The selection of “trigger” foods varies from one person to another. However, some specific foods have been revealed to aggravate acid reflux in many people.
To regulate the symptoms of acid reflux, eliminate these food items from your diet:
Fatty foods, especially fried ones, are known to relax the LES. When this happens, stomach acid can easily move back up to the esophagus.
Fatty foods also play a role in delaying the emptying of the stomach. Thus, decreasing your intake of fatty foods will be beneficial for acid reflux symptoms.
Some high-fat foods include:
- Potato chips and other fried snacks
- Deep fried food (e.g. french fries, onion rings)
- Dairy products with full fats
- Fatty cuts of meat (e.g. pork, beef)
- Creamy sauces
Citrus fruits or Vegetables
For a balanced diet, fruits and vegetables are necessary. However, there are some specific fruits and vegetables that may lead to or worsen acid reflux.
Some of these are:
Caffeine is a well-known acid reflux trigger. Avoiding coffee, tea or any other caffeinated beverages will help prevent or control acid reflux.
Just like caffeinated drinks, carbonated beverages can cause symptoms of acid reflux to occur. Examples of such drinks are soft drinks and energy drinks.
Excessive consumption of chocolate may aggravate acid reflux. This is because chocolate contains methylxanthine.
This ingredient is known to relax the LES and increase the chances of acid reflux.
Garlic and Onions
Both garlic and onion are known to trigger heartburn in most people. However, not everyone can be triggered by this.
A good practice would be to moderate the amount of garlic and onion being consumed daily.
Similar to garlic and onion, spicy foods are popular for triggering symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. While it is not entirely bad, spicy foods should be consumed in moderation.
Alcohol is known to be one of the major causes of acid reflux symptoms. Drinking moderately and not on an empty stomach is a good practice to prevent acid reflux.
Also, do not drink alcohol together with other trigger foods.
Processed foods packed with salt, potatoes, and corn are culprits for acid reflux. These include cereals, chips, and crackers, among others.
Most of these food items are rich in sodium. High sodium is also linked to acid reflux.
Mint and other mint-flavored products (e.g. peppermint, chewing gum) are a known trigger food for acid reflux.
Foods to eat to reduce acid reflux symptoms
These are some of the foods that you may add to your diet in order to prevent or lessen the symptoms of acid reflux.
Most fruits that are not citrusy are good for preventing acid reflux.
Some of the best types to incorporate into your diet are bananas, apples, pears, and melons.
Oatmeal is known as a great fiber source and is a favorite during breakfast.
Additionally, it can help absorb stomach acid, which helps prevent the onset of acid reflux.
Similar to oatmeal, other high-fiber foods are good for the gut.
Options include whole-grain rice or bread.
Some lean meats like fish, chicken, seafood, and turkey have low-fat content. This can help prevent or manage symptoms of acid reflux.
Instead of frying, opt for baked, grilled or broiled lean meats.
Egg whites are helpful for acid reflux symptoms. Ditch the egg yolk, however, as this has high-fat content and can trigger acid reflux.
Vegetables are low sugar, low fat and high in fiber. These are all great qualities for reducing acid in the stomach.
Some good vegetable options are leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, green beans, and asparagus.
Not all fats are bad for acid reflux. Healthy, unsaturated fats are a great alternative to trans and saturated fats.
Some good sources of healthy fats are olive oil, flaxseed, avocados, sesame oil, and walnuts.
Ginger is a great remedy due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. Furthermore, it is known for treating gastrointestinal conditions and heartburn.
To consume, you may slice up the ginger and add it to your drinks or recipes. Another option would be to drink ginger tea.
Coconut water possesses a lot of healthy properties. It is packed with electrolytes and potassium, which help with hydration.
Drinking coconut water will help in preventing acid reflux. Moreover, coconut water may be turned into kefir and can provide the stomach with some healthy probiotics.
Apple cider vinegar
Taking apple cider vinegar is a great way to balance stomach acid. Hence, it is a good solution for keeping acid reflux symptoms at bay.
To take apple cider vinegar, add one tablespoon to a cup of water. Drink the mixture at least five minutes before eating.
Lifestyle changes to make
Maintaining proper nutrition and diet are great ways to prevent or control acid reflux. However, you can do more than just change what you eat.
By making a few lifestyle changes, you can manage acid reflux more effectively. Some of these healthy lifestyle changes include:
- Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation
- Quit smoking
- Avoid overeating
- Take antacids or other drugs that help manage the production of acid
- Avoid chewing mint-flavored gum
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress levels
Read more about potential gastric reflux causes on the article linked below.