The acid reflux diet is designed to avoid foods that can irritate or inflame the esophagus. There are a few foods you should avoid:
Starchy foods. These include white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white potatoes.
Refined carbohydrates. These include white flour, white sugar, and white rice.
Salty foods. These include foods with high sodium content, such as bran cereals, potato chips, and canned soup.
Fried, fatty foods. These include deep-fried foods and fried foods.
Some people are sensitive to foods in this group. If you’re concerned about your acid reflux, talk to your doctor.
Foods to eat every day
For acid reflux, the following foods are recommended:
- Low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and cottage cheese.
- Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and lean beef.
- Nonstarchy vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- Nonstarchy fruits, such as apples, oranges, and grapefruit.
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and wild rice.
- Nuts and seeds.
If you have GERD, you should eat fewer foods with high fat, sugar, or salt.
Foods to avoid
Foods you should avoid if you have GERD include:
- Refined carbohydrates. These are starches with a high glycemic index. They’re digested quickly and cause blood sugar spikes.
- Refined sugar. Refined sugar is found in sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and baked goods.
- White bread, especially white bread with added yeast (such as sourdough bread).
- Canned or frozen foods and drinks with high amounts of sugar.
- Sugary foods. These include candy, soda, and sugared desserts.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- High-fat and high-salt foods. These are fried foods, fatty meats, and salty snacks.
What to eat?
If you have GERD, your doctor may suggest you eat foods with fewer or different ingredients than what you’re used to.
When to see your doctor?
If you have GERD, you may need to lose weight.
The following foods are examples of foods that can contribute to weight gain:
- Fried foods.
- High-fat foods.
- Sugary foods.
If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about your options. You may need to lose weight to reduce your symptoms.
You may also want to consider changing the way you eat. Talk to your doctor about how to make the change. This can help you avoid GERD and GERD-related complications.
Your doctor can also prescribe medications to treat GERD. These can help you avoid other complications.
Other GERD symptoms
In addition to heartburn and reflux, you may have other GERD symptoms. These may include:
- Chest pain. Chest pain may be a sign of heartburn.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Bad breath.
- Food cravings.
What to do next?
If you think you may have GERD, talk to your doctor. There are many treatment options, including medicine and lifestyle changes.
Your doctor might recommend a few lifestyle changes, such as these:
- Lose weight.
- Eat smaller meals.
- Eat more slowly.
- Eat smaller snacks.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.
- Avoid large meals.
- Avoid lying down after a meal.
- Eat slowly.
- Drink plenty of water.
These strategies may help reduce your symptoms. However, you should talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Your doctor can help you avoid additional complications. If you need surgery, you may need to follow a specific diet.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about medications to treat GERD.
Other GERD complications
GERD can lead to complications, including:
- Barrett’s esophagus. This is when the cells at the bottom of the esophagus change. They start to resemble those in the inner lining of your stomach.
- Esophagitis. This is inflammation of the esophagus.
- Esophageal stricture. This is when the esophagus muscle narrows.
- Esophageal cancer. This is when cells that line the esophagus grow out of control and invade nearby tissues.
How can GERD affect your heart?
According to a 2015 study, GERD increases your risk of heartburn. You may also have heartburn more often than you think.
In some people, heartburn is a symptom of heartburn caused by GERD. In other people, heartburn is a symptom of a heart condition, such as coronary heart disease.
It’s possible you may have heartburn without knowing it. Talk to your doctor if you can’t identify any heartburn symptoms.
If you have a heart rhythm disorder, you may have a heart attack. A heart attack may also cause:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
See your doctor right away if you have chest pain or nausea, especially if you also have a heart rhythm disorder.
Heartburn is also a sign of heart disease.
If you’re over the age of 40, you should discuss your heart health with your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor if you:
- Have heartburn more than twice a week.
- Have heartburn for more than a few weeks.
- Have frequent episodes of heartburn.
- Have chest pain with heartburn.
- Have heartburn just before or after a meal.
- Have heartburn when you’re not eating.
- Have an abnormal heart beat.
- Have signs of heart failure.
You should also see your doctor if you:
- Have pain in your chest, neck, or throat.
- Have a heart rhythm disorder.
- Have a heart attack or stroke.
- Have unexplained weight loss.
It’s possible that GERD can contribute to heart disease. However, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.
If you think you have heart disease, talk to your doctor. They can run tests to check for heart disease.
If you need surgery, you may need to follow a special diet.
GERD and pregnancy
According to a 2016 study, pregnant women who have GERD are more likely to have a complication called pyloric stenosis. This is when your esophagus becomes narrow.
Pyloric stenosis can cause heartburn. It can also make it difficult to digest food.
If you’re pregnant and have GERD, talk to your doctor about your options. They can help you make a plan to manage your symptoms.
GERD and menopause
GERD can occur during menopause. This is when your body stops producing hormones. This can cause menopause symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Changes in your sex drive
Some medications may also cause these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what’s causing your symptoms.
If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can help you create a plan to manage your symptoms.
GERD and exercise
Exercising may cause or worsen GERD symptoms. This may be because exercising increases acid production.
If you currently have GERD, talk to your doctor about how to exercise safely.
It’s possible that exercise may help relieve GERD symptoms. If you’re having trouble with exercise, talk to your doctor. They can help you find ways to exercise safely.
The bottom line
Heartburn occurs when acid reflux causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. This allows food and acid to pass back up into your esophagus.
Heartburn is usually a symptom of acid reflux and GERD. It’s also a risk factor for other complications.
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