Published January 10, 2012
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid and partially digested food is regurgitated back into your esophagus, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation, nausea and even vomiting. Many individuals choose to ignore these symptoms, or treat them as an inevitable part of life, but certain treatments can prove extremely effective at reducing the effects of acid reflux, or even eliminating them altogether. While there is a range of different ways to treat and manage GERD, making specific changes to one’s diet can often be a simple and effective way to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Your doctor can advise you on the healthiest and best dietary changes for you.
Identify your triggers
GERD sufferers can often trace their heartburn triggers to specific foods or beverages. By identifying offending foods, you may be able to avoid acid reflux altogether. Triggers can vary greatly from person to person, but foods that usually stimulate acid production and increase heartburn include caffeine, alcohol, tomato-based products, carbonated beverages, or citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges. Try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to identify which foods tend to provoke acid reflux most often.
Find agreeable food
Once you’ve found the foods that don’t agree with you, it’s time to find the ones that do. Among the more innocuous foods are non-citrus fruits like bananas and apples, as well as vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots and peas. Lean steak and beef, fish, chicken breast and egg whites are also considered safe for GERD sufferers, along with certain cheeses, sour cream and soy cheese, and wholegrain wheat products. Try to include complex carbohydrates in every meal, as these have been proven to quell the effects of GERD.
Manage portion sizes
Acid reflux is not only linked to the types of food you eat, but also how much you consume per sitting. Eating smaller, more manageable portions often, rather than one or two big meals per day, will decrease the risk of acid reflux. Similarly, when you eat can have an enormous impact on the frequency and severity of acid reflux. Try not to eat late at night and wait at least one hour after meals before lying down or going to sleep, as this can cause acid in your stomach to flow back up your throat and lead to acid reflux.
Finally, managing your weight can play an enormous role in managing your acid reflux. Studies by the New England Medical Journal show that even a small gain in weight can trigger the onset of acid reflux. Conversely, by losing just 10 percent of body fat, an overweight person can dramatically reduce the symptoms and frequency of acid reflux. That’s why it’s so important for GERD sufferers to choose a low-calorie, balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Often, this strategy can help to eliminate GERD entirely.