Diet for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease GERD

Diet modification and weight loss is recommended for patients diagnosed with GERD, if excess weight or obesity is an issue. You need to pay attention how carbohydrates, fats, and proteins affect digestion, as well as your GERD symptoms.

Updated: August 17, 2020

When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged, acid in your stomach backflow into the esophagus causing acid reflux. The amount of acid your stomach produces is affected by the kind of food you eat. To control acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you need to choose the right kind of food. Diet modification and weight loss are recommended for patients diagnosed with GERD if excess weight or obesity is an issue. You need to pay attention to how carbohydrates, fats, and proteins affect digestion, as well as your GERD symptoms. You need all three of these macronutrients in your diet, along with fiber and water. You need to take the utmost care about the quantity and kind of nutrients you are consuming.

Carbohydrates:

The faster the meal is digested, the less chance of acid reflux symptoms. Hence a good source of carbs plays an important role in controlling acid reflux as these are fast to digest.

Carbs are also the primary energy source that we burn daily. The good carbs are usually found in fiber-rich foods, while the bad carbs are found in foods high in sugar content, sugary drinks, and junk foods.
Few good foods with high carbs content that help control acid reflux include:

  • Noncitrus fruits such as melons, bananas, apples, and pears
  • Blueberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Oats, a source of fiber that can absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of reflux.

Foods with high carbs of content to be avoided are:

  • Fruit juices, especially citrus
  • Cereals with a high sugar content
  • All drinks that contain high sugar
  • Potatoes


Fats:

Fats slow down the digestion process. Bile is a digestive juice released by the gall bladder that helps fats to be properly digested and absorbed into the body. When bile reflux up into the esophagus, there is a higher risk of GERD complications such as Barrett’s esophagus or adenocarcinoma.
Few things to take care while choosing fat:

  • Avoid high-fat meals and limit portions of high-fat foods such as meats and other animal products.
  • Use unsaturated vegetable oil instead of butter for cooking.
  • Eat more fish that contain omega 3 fats, which are also good for the heart.
  • Avoid trans fats and saturated fats and choose foods with unsaturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.
  • Sources of healthy fats include avocados, flaxseed, walnuts, sesame oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil.

Proteins:

Proteins are digested at a rate between carbs and fats. These are called building blocks of life as our organs, antibodies, enzymes, muscles and some hormones are made of protein.
Proteins make us feel full fast. Hence less amount of food makes you full when protein food is included in a meal. So for GERD patients who needs to eat less frequently and eat smaller portions, proteins are a good source of energy. More amount of protein consumption leads to an increase in the production of heat by burning additional calories.

  • Few things to increase the amount of protein in your diet:
  • Start the day including high protein food such as eggs, fish, yogurt.
  • Try to include protein in each meal you have.
  • Whenever possible replace starchy and sugary foods with protein sources like fish, nuts, and soy.

Some of the high protein foods are:

  • Peanut butter
  • Egg whites
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peas
  • Salmon
  • Chicken

Foods that accelerate acid reflux and should be avoided if they trigger your acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Tomatoes and tomato paste
  • Citrus fruits and juices such as grapefruit, orange, lime
  • Oils
  • Chocolate
  • Creamed foods or soups
  • Junk and fast foods
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Peppermint and spearmint
  • Whole milk
  • Onions and garlic
  • Coffee and tea
  • Caffeinated and carbonated soft drinks
  • Spicy or acidic foods

Foods that help reduce acid reflux symptoms are:

Ginger:

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and it is a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. So you can add ginger in your recipe or drink ginger tea to get relief from acid reflux symptoms.

Vegetables:

Vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar that help reduce stomach acid. You can include green beans,  asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, and cucumbers.


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