GERD Diet or Diet for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease

Tess Thompson



When we eat, food passes through the pharynx to the stomach. The passage between the pharynx and the stomach is called the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscle that contracts and relaxes, and acts as protection against stomach acids refluxing into the lower esophagus.

The problem arises when this sphincter relaxes at the wrong time or is unable to function properly due to a medical condition—leading to the occurrence of acid reflux. Recurring reflux results in GERD or gastro-esophageal reflux disease that takes place essentially due to the exposure of the esophagus to the acidic stomach fluids.

Symptoms of GERD vary with every individual, but are commonly associated with heartburn. These are persistent in the case of chronic or recurring reflux. In most people, the symptoms of GERD are mild and do not cause any major problems. However, there is a serious possibility of damage to the inner lining of the esophagus from repeated or chronic contact with reflux. This can lead to the formation of ulcers and an inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis).

Mild instances of acid reflux are easily managed with drinking a glass of cold milk (non-fat if trying to lose weight) every day at bedtime. This eases the heartburn and also reduces acidity in the stomach. Chewing non-mint gum can also provide a short-term solution since it increase saliva production, which decreases the amount of acid in the esophagus.

A more detailed GERD diet may be required for reducing the probability of a reflux. This diet is mainly meant for those with an inflamed esophagus or ulcers. General guidelines for following a GERD diet include:

  • Reduce fat intake. Foods with a high fat content tend to decrease the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, causing a delay in the contractions which enable the closing of the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. Spicy and fatty foods are hard to digest and remain in the stomach for a longer period of time. Food in the stomach for a longer period of time also increases the possibility of reflux.
  • Large meals should be avoided because they are likely to increase gastric pressure and move acidic content upwards.
  • Reducing total calorie intake helps in controlling acid reflux. It also helps in weight loss.
  • Chocolates are known to reduce lower esophageal sphincter pressure and should be avoided.
  • Reduce your intake of coffee.
  • Alcohol, mint, spices, aerated drinks, citrus juices and tomato juice tend to irritate the esophagus and aggravate the symptoms of GERD.

Obesity is a possible cause of recurring acid reflux. In such cases, natural weight loss remedies can be adopted to reduce weight. In addition to dietary modification, it is also advisable to implement lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating at least three hours before bed, and wearing clothes that are loose at the abdomen.

References:
http://www.mckinley.uiuc.edu/Handouts/pdfs/gerd_diet.pdf

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