How This Helps

Acid reflux is a health condition in which the contents of the stomach regularly move back up into the food pipe or esophagus (a tube that connects the throat to the stomach). In medical terms, acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is the chronic form of acid reflux. It is a common condition that tends to affect almost everybody at some point or other in their lifetime, but in some cases, it can lead to chronic complications and other troubling symptoms, such as heartburn. 

The diet and lifestyle of a person have a direct effect on the amount of acid produced by the stomach. The unhealthy diet is responsible for the excess of acid production in the stomach, thus causing acid reflux or heartburn. Acid reflux diet or a GERD diet is the best solution to prevent this condition, which also can significantly help the symptoms of acid reflux and help in avoiding other treatments for dealing with this uncomfortable condition. After this acid reflux and lifestyle-related changes can greatly improve your odds of living with no unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux, also, in the long term, avoiding the possibility of serious health effects. You can live a much happier and healthier life.

What is Acid Reflux Diet or GERD Diet Plan?

The acid reflux or GERD is a gastrointestinal disorder, in which symptoms often stem from the stomach acid touching the esophagus, thus causing pain and irritation or a burning sensation inside the throat. Certain foods are known for their calming effect on the stomach that prevents these symptoms. A planned routine diet should include only these foods. This diet (called an acid reflux diet, or a GERD diet list) will help not only reduce but also prevent the aggravating symptoms of acid reflux.

See: Ayurveda treatment for GERD and Acidity

Foods to include in Acid Reflux Diet Menu

Until recently, researchers were not able to fully understand GERD, and there was also a lack of evidence to indicate whether changing diet can bring about any improvement in the symptoms. However, the study was done by the “Tongji Hospital of Tongji University in China” found that there are certain foods that may decrease the frequency and severity of GERD symptoms [1].


The following are the foods to incorporate in the GERD diet plan. They include:

1. Water

According to the associate professor of medicine, Evan Dellon, MD, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the human body has its different pH levels. The stomach has a lower pH level, but the blood has a neutral pH level. In the case of acid reflux, an ample amount of water plays an important role in maintaining the pH of the stomach. Water dilutes the excess acid that produces during acid reflux and clears out the esophagus. This dilution makes water the most critical item to keep on top of the GERD diet plan or Acid reflux diet [5].

2. Vegetables

Vegetables are the best food to include in the GERD diet because they contain low sugar and fat. They reduce the production of the acid in the stomach and calm the symptoms of acid reflux. Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and potatoes should be included in the daily acid reflux diet plan to prevent the symptoms of GERD.

3. Fruits that are alkaline or low acidic in nature along with a good source of fiber such as banana and apple helps in lowering cholesterol and also prevent the spikes in blood sugar. Including such types of fruits in the acid reflux diet helps in combating this unwanted condition called GERD. Citrus fruits such as orange should be avoided.

4. Ginger is a phenolic compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus it is responsible for reducing the symptoms such as nausea, swelling, or inflammation and muscle pain, which makes it an ideal food to combat with the GERD [4].

Take a seven day GERD diet plan and include ginger in it to see the positive results in reducing acid reflux symptoms.

5. Brown Rice

Brown rice is low acidic and high in fiber along with the nutrition of vitamin B, which helps in the regulation of digestion and keeping the body full of energy. These healthy properties of brown rice make it ideal for the acid reflux diet menu.


See: Ginger Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts

Foods to Avoid in a GERD Diet Plan

According to the research carried out by the “Tongji Hospital of Tongji University in China” states that there is a connection between certain types of food and acid reflux. The study, published in the Gastroenterology Research and Practice Journal, established a connection between reflux esophagitis, an inflammatory condition caused by GERD, and an increased intake of certain foods [1].

Foods that are known to make the acid reflux or GERD symptoms worse include:

- High amounts of salt 

- High fat and oily foods

- Meat since it is high in fatty acids and cholesterol


Following are some foods that should not be putting in the GERD diet list:

1.   Milk

According to the study in the Gut and liver journal by the University of Medical Sciences in Iran, there is a relationship between GERD symptoms in children and cow's milk allergy (CMA) [2]. The researching team found that children who were diagnosed with CMA experienced symptoms of acid reflux or GERD after drinking cow's milk. Research also states that people who experience discomfort or bloating regularly after consuming dairy products that contain cow's milk may find relief from these symptoms by eliminating dairy products from their acid reflux diet menu. 

2.   Foods high in cholesterol

A research study by the “Neuro‐Enteric Clinical Research Group in the United States,” published in “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics journal,” looked at the connection between GERD and cholesterol [3]. The results of the study found that people who were regularly having foods high in saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and a higher percentage of their total calories were being derived from fat, were much more likely to experience the symptoms of acid reflux.

See: Functional medicine for GERD

Root cause of acid reflux

Acid Reflux Diet and Lifestyle

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can treat and prevent more than simply cardiovascular-related diseases. They're the solution to a plethora of medical problems, including acid reflux and GERD. As with a lot of things in life, the answer to a problem can frequently be found by analyzing its causes. An acid reflux diet and other lifestyle changes can help you cut and perhaps even remove acid reflux.

For the vast majority of people, acid reflux and GERD are caused by lifestyle-related variables, including:

- Smoking

- Excessive alcohol use

- Anxiety

- Obesity

- Diets high in fat, acid, spices, sugar, caffeine

- Late-night foods before bedtime

See: Beat Sugar Detox Symptoms and Feel Better

Lifestyle changes for acid reflux

Diet & lifestyle  changes for GERD

To stop or reduce acid reflux, begin an acid reflux diet and lifestyle such as  key lifestyle-based options:

- Exercise regularly.

- Adopt a stress-reducing routine like yoga and meditation. 

- Quit smoking & drinking alcohol and caffeine.

- Eat dinner before the day before 6 PM.

- A recliner set in a 45-degree angle or greater can help prevent reflux after dinner 

- Enjoy a complete night's sleep.

- Eat a lot of foods naturally low in sugar and fat

- Avoid fatty meat, carbonated beverages, processed foods, and fatty, sugary desserts.

Keep a journal of eating and actions to find out what exacerbates acid reflux symptoms, and remove the offenders.

After this acid reflux and lifestyle-related changes can greatly improve your odds of living with no unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux, also, in the long term, avoiding the possibility of serious health effects. You can live a happier and healthier life.

See: Benefits of yoga

The problem with medications

Why not just take the drugs that neutralize stomach acid or limit its production? The issue is, except for the most serious cases of GERD, these medications aren't intended for long-term or continual use. Over time, they could have adverse side effects. Antacids can finally upset the digestive tract and result in diarrhea or constipation.

Proton pump inhibitors, which are utilized to decrease the production of stomach acid, have been linked to increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), pneumonia, and unwanted drug interactions. Rates of esophageal cancer in the U.S. have increased 500 percent since the 1970s. Research at a study from Denmark has linked proton pump inhibitors with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Have a talk with your doctor about the dangers and benefits of prolonged use of medication to treat your acid reflux.


See: Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux

Summary

The foods listed above have a calming effect on the stomach but do not cure the condition GERD. They can help only in alleviating the symptoms. Increasing dietary fiber is generally considered to be a good idea for people with GERD. Apart from reducing the GERD symptoms, fiber is also known for lowering the risk of uncontrolled blood sugar, high cholesterol levels in the body, and many other bowel problems. This is why fiber is an excellent choice to include in an acid reflux diet if someone is suffering from digestive issues.  If you have GERD, always remember to talk to your doctor first before making any sudden and drastic changes to your diet.

See: What does heartburn feel like

References

1. Wu, P., Zhao, X.H., Ai, Z.S., Sun, H.H., Chen, Y., Jiang, Y.X., Tong, Y.L. and Xu, S.C., 2013. Dietary intake and risk for reflux esophagitis: a case-control study. Gastroenterology research and practice, 2013.

2. Farahmand, F., Najafi, M., Ataee, P., Modarresi, V., Shahraki, T. and Rezaei, N., 2011. Cow's milk allergy among children with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gut and liver, 5(3), p.298.

3. Shapiro, M., Green, C., Bautista, J.M., Dekel, R., RISNER‐ADLER, S., Whitacre, R., Graver, E. and Fass, R., 2007. Assessment of dietary nutrients that influence the perception of intra‐oesophageal acid reflux events in patients with gastro‐oesophageal reflux disease. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 25(1), pp.93-101.

4. Antunes C, Curtis SA. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. [Updated 2019 May 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441938/

5. Wu KL, Rayner CK, Chuah SK, et al. Effect of liquid meals with different volumes on gastroesophageal reflux disease. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;29(3):469-73.

6. Kelly, K. J., Lazenby, A. J., Rowe, P. C., Yardley, J. H., Perman, J. A., & Sampson, H. A. (1995). Eosinophilic esophagitis attributed to gastroesophageal reflux: improvement with an amino acid-based formula. Gastroenterology, 109(5), 1503-1512.

7. Gastro Center of New Jersey. What Is the Best Breakfast for Acid Reflux Sufferers?. gastrocenternj.com 2019

8. Kubo A, Block G, Quesenberry CP Jr, Buffler P, Corley DA. Dietary guideline adherence for gastroesophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:144. Published 2014 Aug 14. doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-144

See: Heartburn and Acid Reflux Remedies

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