Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
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Since GERD is a digestive disorder, the diet may often influence the signs of the condition. Making lifestyle and dietary changes can go a long way toward treating many cases of GERD. 

What is GERD?

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle present between your stomach and the esophagus. It is known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. Many people, especially pregnant women, suffer from acid indigestion or heartburn caused by GERD. It's a condition where the stomach contents frequently move back up the food pipe. This regurgitation is usually long-term and may lead to uncomfortable symptoms, including heartburn and pain in the upper abdomen. The seriousness of the condition often relates to lifestyle and diet. Lots of individuals also suffer from GERD due to a condition called hiatal hernia. Typically, however, GERD can be relieved through modifications in your diet and lifestyle customs. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects about 20 percent of the American population.

Since GERD is a digestive disorder, diet may often influence the signs of the condition. Making lifestyle and dietary changes can go a long way toward treating many cases of GERD. An article printed in the Gastroenterology Research and Practice Journal discovered a link between reflux esophagitis, which is inflammation that's usually because of GERD, along with a high intake of specific foods


See: Electro-Acupuncture Therapy for Gastritis - GERD

What is a GERD diet?


Acid reflux happens because of an acid backflow from the stomach into the oesophagus. This causes heartburn. 

GERD diet is any diet that is used to decrease the discomfort in the oesophagus caused by the acid reflux happening as a result of GERD. Also known as a heartburn diet or reflux diet, GERD diet focuses on including foods that cause the stomach to produce less acid. The foods that you consume has a direct effect on the amount of acid produced by your stomach. When you eat the right kinds of foods, it controls acid reflux in GERD. [1]

See: Papaya Mousse Recipe for acid reflux

Good treatment of GERD always starts with a visit to a healthcare professional to ensure that you have an accurate diagnosis. It's important to realize that chronic reflux doesn't get better by itself. Over-the-counter remedies may offer short-term symptom relief, but may mask an underlying illness if used long-term. Treatment for GERD may include medications advised by your physician and certain lifestyle and diet changes. A mixture of approaches, and some trial and error, may be necessary.

See: Apple cider vinegar for acid reflux

Diet and lifestyle changes start with an honest assessment to identify the problems correctly. These include food type, portion,  and time that  food is consumed typically during the day.  This may identify foods that may trigger or aggravate symptoms. Since everyone is different, coming up with the suitable diet and lifestyle changes entails finding what works best for you. Not all triggers and treatments will affect all people in precisely the identical way. Remember what you consume could be just as important as when and how much you eat. A specific food which causes reflux when consumed a few hours before sleep time might well be harmless if taken earlier in the day.


While no known miracle "GERD diet" exists, changing certain foods in your daily diet program may help you alleviate or prevent symptoms. Eating right for GERD doesn't have to mean cutting out all your favorite foods. Making only a few, simple modifications to your current diet is frequently enough.

See: Heartburn and Acid Reflux Remedies

Foods to eat for GERD

The best foods for GERD help cut down the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Incorporating GERD-friendly foods into your diet helps you manage the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. Keep in mind, though, that none of these foods will cure the condition, but you can use a GERD diet to soothe your symptoms. 

1. Vegetables

Vegetables are your best bet if you have GERD. They are a must-have in any reflux diet. Veggies are naturally low in sugar and fat, and they also cut down on stomach acid. Some good options for having on your heartburn diet include:[2 ]

Cauliflower

Leafy green vegetables

Green beans

Broccoli

Asparagus

Potatoes

Cucumbers

2. Oatmeal

Oats are an excellent source of many different types of V vitamins, which, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center3 helps in controlling acid reflux and also prevents heartburn associated with GERD. Oatmeal is perhaps the best breakfast for GERD that you can have. It is a whole grain and also a tremendous source of fiber. 

Oatmeal also benefits in curbing acid reflux in GERD as it absorbs the acid present in the stomach, thus reducing the symptoms of reflux. This is why oatmeal is a must-have in any reflux diet.

3. Lean Meats and Seafood

Lean meats such as turkey, fish, chicken, and other seafood options are also great foods for GERD. If you want to follow a heartburn diet, then there are no better and wholesome options to include than lean meats and seafood. They not only reduce the symptoms of acid reflux, but you can also have them in many ways to avoid getting bored with only one type of food. You can have them baked, grilled, broiled, and even poached to change up the taste every day.

4. Non-citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are a major heartburn trigger. Instead of opting for having citrus fruits, you should try non-citrus fruits such as:

Melons

Apples

Bananas

Pears

Berries

These are not only highly nutritious, but they are also highly unlikely to trigger the symptoms of acid reflux. At the same time, keep in mind to avoid having citrus juices as well, especially orange juice. Opt for having non-citrus fruit juices.

See: Strawberries nutrition health benefits

Foods to avoid with GERD

There are certain foods you need to avoid as they are known as being natural reflux triggers. These are known to cause problems in people who have GERD and to control your symptoms and to prevent a flare-up, it is best to eliminate the following foods from your GERD diet.

1. Fried and Fatty Foods

Fried and fatty foods are the biggest enemies of GERD patients. Fatty and fried foods are known to cause the LES to relax, which allows more stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. These foods also cause a delay in the emptying of the stomach, thus creating heartburn for a more extended amount of time.[4 ]

Eating foods that are high in fat puts you at a higher risk of heartburn, and you should proactively try to reduce your total daily intake of fat.  Here are some foods that are known to have a high-fat content. Avoid having these foods or restrict their intake strictly:

Onion rings and french fries

Bacon fat

Ham fat

Lard

Full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, butter, cheese, and even sour cream

Fatty or fried cuts of pork, beef, or lamb

Cream sauces, creamy salad dressings, and gravies

Desserts and snacks including potato chips and ice cream

2. Chocolate

Chocolate contains a compound known as methylxanthine that comes from the cocoa tree. This compound is similar to caffeine. Methylxanthine causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, just like what fried and fatty foods do, causing the acid to leak into the stomach. This causes acid reflux and also a slower emptying of the stomach.[5]

3. Onions, Garlic, and Spicy Foods

Spicy and tangy foods, including garlic and onion, are known triggers for heartburn symptoms in many people with GERD. However, these foods do not trigger acid reflux in everyone who has GERD. Nevertheless, if you are eating a lot of onion and garlic, it is best to keep track of your meals carefully in your food diary. Some of these foods, including spicy foods, are known to bother some people more than others, creating a flare-up of their GERD symptoms. 

4. Caffeine

Caffeine is something you should definitely leave out of your GERD diet. People who have GERD often find their symptoms getting worse after they have their morning coffee. This is because caffeine is a well-known trigger of heartburn.

See: Acid Reflux Diet for GERD

GERD Meal Planning Tips to Prevent Heartburn

Here are some tips that will help prevent acid reflux if you have GERD. 

- Avoid lying down within 2 to 3 hours of eating. This causes the stomach contents to splash up towards the LES.

- Avoid items that are known to weaken the LES muscle, such as caffeine, alcohol, fried and fatty foods, and peppermint.

- Avoid eating a large meal as it takes more time for the stomach to digest it.

- Avoid smoking and having alcohol before, after, or during your meals as it causes heartburn. 

- Wait for at least 2 to 3 hours after eating before you exercise.


See: GERD diet plan to prevent heartburn

Summary

People who have GERD are afflicted with heartburn or acid reflux frequently. This happens because the lining of the esophagus comes in contact with the stomach acid, producing a burning pain in the throat. Sometimes excessive acid can also cause injury to the esophagus. Meal planning and avoiding foods that trigger GERD symptoms will help you avoid heartburn. There are many foods that you can include in your heartburn diet that will help reduce your symptoms and also keep the disease in check.

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References

1. Us, C. (2019). Diet Changes for GERD. Retrieved 3 September 2019, from https://www.aboutgerd.org/diet-lifestyle-changes/diet-changes-for-gerd.html

2. Vegetables & Heartburn | Livestrong.com. (2019). Retrieved 3 September 2019, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/467886-vegetables-heartburn/

3. The Dos and Don’ts of Oats for Heartburn. (2019). Retrieved 3 September 2019, from https://superfoodsrx.com/healthyliving/the-truth-behind-the-oats-heartburn-connection/

4. How Fried Foods Can Trigger Acid Reflux - dummies. (2019). Retrieved 3 September 2019, from https://www.dummies.com/food-drink/special-diets/acid-reflux-diet/how-fried-foods-can-trigger-acid-reflux/

5. BB, F. (2019). Gastrointestinal and metabolic effects of methylxanthines. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved 3 September 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6084844

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