GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition in which stomach acid constantly rushes back into the tube between the mouth and the stomach. This backwash, or acid reflux, irritates the lining of the esophagus. It’s a common problem, and many people experience acid reflux. Furthermore, chronic acid reflux may lead to GERD if it occurs often over time. It is also known as heartburn.
An important issue associated with persistent acid reflux and GERD is that it damages the muscular loop, also known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The ring is located between the esophagus and the stomach. This condition can lead to acid indigestion or heartburn. Although diet and lifestyle modifications can reduce GERD symptoms in most cases, chronic acid reflux, or GERD, may require treatment or surgery. However, a GERD diet can improve this condition.
Understanding the GERD Diet
The GERD diet is a form of dietary modification that can help prevent or manage conditions such as acid reflux or GERD. Hence, it is considered by many medical experts as the first line of treatment.
It is not a specific eating plan. Instead, it is about eating certain foods that can help treat or manage the condition while avoiding foods that can aggravate it. For example, foods that cause heartburn are foods that are high in fat, salt or spices, such as fried foods, fast foods, pizza, cheese, citrus fruits, etc. However, many people find it difficult to avoid these foods completely. So, moderation is key. At the same time, foods that prevent or reduce cases of acid reflux should be eaten.
When creating a diet for GERD, you need to be aware of which foods to eat and avoid. Although you can do this independently, it is always best to consult a dietitian. Since everyone has different needs, a dietitian can help create a customized eating plan with your requirements and condition in mind.
Foods to Eat in a Diet for GERD
It is necessary to include certain foods in a diet for GERD. These foods help prevent the condition and control symptoms of GERD. Hence, understanding what is healthy for your condition is vital. Here are some of the foods you should eat:
Vegetables are usually low in sugar and fat. In addition, they are a good source of fiber and healthy carbohydrates. Some vegetables suitable for a GERD diet include asparagus, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, kale, potatoes, and spinach.
Most fruits (other than citrus fruits) reduce the likelihood of GERD symptoms. Fruits are an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. Some options you can include in your GERD diet include apples, avocados, bananas, berries, watermelon, peaches, and pears.
It is no secret that proteins are important. However, it is important to include lean proteins that have a low cholesterol value. Some healthy proteins suitable for a GERD diet include almonds, beans, chicken, fish, lean poultry, lentils, seafood, and turkey.
The diet for GERD should consist of foods with a low pH value. This is because foods with a high pH can irritate the stomach lining and increase stomach acid. Foods like watermelon, fennel, nuts, bananas, and broccoli have a low pH. Hence, these are best suited to fit a GERD diet.
You can incorporate high-fiber foods like oatmeal, quinoa, etc. into your diet. It is not only healthy but essential for the overall well-being of the individual.
It is always best to follow a balanced diet with vegetables, protein and fruits. A GERD diet should include foods that help prevent symptoms and avoid foods that can increase the chances of stomach acid returning. On top of that, it tends to cut out an entire food group. In turn, some foods can still be allowed in this case. Therefore, health professionals recommend a balanced diet.
Foods to Avoid When Dieting for GERD
It is essential that you understand which food products you need to completely avoid. It is also necessary to prevent the consumption of any fast food. Avoid all fast food products such as pizza, burgers or other unhealthy items. It is crucial to realize that no matter how easy it is to get a burger on your way to work, this is not the case. It harms your body. It acts like a slow poison that causes a lot of trouble. Even if you can’t find the difference now, it still causes massive health issues that you may have to contend with later.
Some of the food items to be avoided are as follows:
Fat-rich food products
According to research, fried and fatty foods may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the likelihood of stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus. But unfortunately, these foods also hinder digestion.
Reducing your daily fat intake can generally help because eating foods high in fat puts you at an increased risk of developing reflux symptoms. It includes all fried foods such as french fries, onion rings, and other products such as beef, pork, lamb, ice cream and potato chips.
In a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables are essential. However, some fruits, especially those that are high in acid, may worsen or trigger GERD symptoms. Therefore, if you frequently develop acid reflux, you should reduce or avoid foods such as lemons, limes, pineapples, tomatoes, oranges, and grapefruits.
Many people experience heartburn after eating sour and spicy meals. Track your meals carefully in your diet if you consume a lot of spices like red chillies, garam masala etc. You may be more sensitive to some of these items, including spicy foods.
There are some food items that should be completely avoided. Some of the food products that make it into this list are – foods high in fat, fried food products, citrus fruits, and spicy foods. You should also avoid eating anything acidic. Instead, try to include more alkaline food products in your diet. It will help neutralize the acid within the system and provide relief.
The GERD Diet: The Checklist Meal Plan
It is essential to consult a nutritionist before planning to start any eating plan. Dietary modifications to treat chronic reflux are not common for everyone. A few treatments may provide temporary relief but not long-term relief. Therefore, choosing the right diet and lifestyle modifications is essential to finding the best for you. It is also important to realize that a certain food may not be harmful early in the day but causes GERD when eaten 3-4 hours before bedtime. Therefore, when you eat is just as important as what you eat.
- Breakfast: Utappam (2 servings) with green chutney without mint leaves (1 tablespoon).
- Mid-day meal: One fruit, such as an avocado (avoid citrus).
- Lunch: rice (1 cup), soybean curry with potatoes only (half a cup), sabzi cabbage (half a cup), and a small cup of low-fat yogurt.
- Evening: green gram sprouts (1 cup)
- Dinner: 2 rotis, green bean sabzi (half a cup), cucumber raita (half a cup).
Some tips to follow
Follow a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet to treat or control GERD is critical. A balanced diet consists of all kinds of nutrients and minerals that the body needs. Additionally, since the condition is caused by acid formation within the stomach, excess acid formation must be prevented by eating a balanced meal.
It is essential that you understand how harmful smoking is to your health. It is necessary to quit this habit immediately, especially if you have health problems. It will reduce the likelihood of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease.
It is essential to keep the body hydrated. It will help your body reduce acid formation and will provide relief. Therefore, drink the right or recommended amount of water every day.
The irritant alcohol is known to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and cause reflux symptoms. But although some individuals may notice an increase in symptoms after just one drink, others can handle small amounts. However, it is best to stay away from any kind of alcohol.
Improving your posture during and after eating
It is advised to eat upright and avoid lying down for at least two hours after a meal. After eating, standing and moving stimulates the gastric juice to flow in the appropriate direction.
The GERD diet is an eating pattern that focuses on green vegetables and plenty of protein and nutrients in the right amounts. If you have GERD, you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods to stay healthy. It is enough to make frequent and small adjustments in your diet. Moreover, there are different ways in which you can cure the disease or stay away from it. A healthy and balanced lifestyle is one of the best ways to do this. Try to follow a proper routine and seek advice from your healthcare professional about what you should eat and what you should avoid.