A lot of GERD suffers have found that changing their diet has led to a significant improvement in the severity of their symptoms; for some it has even got rid of it. If you suffer from GERD, then you must have noticed that after eating certain food products, you get that dreaded acid rise from your stomach along with that tight feeling in your chest. Thankfully, experts have a devised a set of foods to avoid with GERD, which you can find in detail below.
Before you read on, it is important to acknowledge that different people react to different foods, which is why I recommend that if you want to do this properly then you should keep a food journal. To find out what foods are a trigger for you, keep a journal for at least a week though longer is probably better. During this time, chart what food you are eating, what time of day you are eating it and symptoms that you experience as a result.
Cut Back on Carbohydrates
Most people will tell you to cut fat from your diet if you want to know how to get rid of acid reflux, but fat is not the problem, carbohydrates are. Us Westerners love our carbs; from breakfast to dinner, we fill our stomachs with carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice etc. There is two types of carbohydrates, long chain (complex carbohydrates) and short chain. The problem lies with the short chain carbohydrates, they are very osmotic, which means that they draw water into the intestines. Additionally, they are not fully absorbed by our digestive system and feed the bacteria that is in the gut, causing extra bacterial growth which leads to fermentation. The process of fermentation in the digestive system causes a lot of gas. This increases the pressure inside the bowels forcing gas, often mixed with stomach acid, back up through the oesophagus, which is when you get acid reflux.
Yes, tomatoes are packed full of nutrients, but they also contain high amounts of naturally occurring acids that will exacerbate symptoms of GERD. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to avoid tomatoes until symptoms clear up. This includes tomato-based foods, such as tomato juice, ketchup, pizza sauces, spaghetti, lasagne and anything else you can think of that may contain tomatoes. If you are someone that loves tomato-based recopies and can’t live without them, then you can try adding a tiny bit of sugar into the mixture or some sweet vegetables as this will counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.
Like tomatoes, citrus fruits – oranges, orange juice, grapefruit and pineapples – are highly acidic and eating them is likely to cause acid reflux.
This is definitely one of the foods to avoid with GERD since a lot of people with acid reflux find that eating onions trigger symptoms. This is for a few reasons, firstly, some folks have a hard time digesting onions. Additionally, eating onions, especially when raw, can increase the acidity in the oesophagus, causing heartburn. Onions are also known to relax the LES, making it easier for stomach acid to flow back up. You may be able to get around this by cooking them for a prolonged period of time, but it’s always a risk.
Peppermint is an interesting one as it is hailed as a natural remedy for various conditions, including but not limited to, indigestion, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and bad breath. However, as much as it works for certain digestive disorders, it does the opposite for people with GERD. Experts suggest that consuming peppermint causes the LES to relax, leading to acid reflux.
Oh no, not chocolate! Chocolate is a known trigger of acid reflux. Studies done on the effects of chocolate and acid reflux suggest that like onions, it relaxes the LES, letting your stomach acid leak back into the esophagus. If you have noticed symptoms after eating chocolate, then it is probably a good idea to give it up. Hopefully, once your acid reflux has been treated, you can slowly begin reintroducing chocolate into your diet.
Carbonated drinks are bad for two reasons. Firstly, because they are full of gas they cause your stomach to distend, creating extra pressure on your LES. Secondly a lot of carbonated drinks are pretty acidic which is very likely to aggravate symptoms.
You might have to think about giving that morning coffee a miss because coffee is a known trigger for symptoms of GERD. Coffee was once considered bad for GERD sufferers because of its caffeine content, however, more recent studies suggest that it is not necessarily the caffeine that causes symptoms. It seems that there are unknown properties in the coffee itself that badly irritates the upper GI tract. Drinking coffee, like carbonated drinks and chocolate, decreases the pressure of the LES, allowing stomach acids to leak back up. Coffee is also very acidic, which can lead to heartburn.
Reading this list of foods to avoid with GERD, you are probably thinking… this is going to be difficult. However, all the foods listed are known triggers of GERD symptoms. It will be super hard to remove them from your diet, but your reward will be feeling your symptoms disappear. The best way to remove them from your diet is by doing it gradually while jotting down whether they make a difference to symptoms. This will give you a clearer picture and you will be less likely to feel like you are punishing yourself.
What foods make your acid reflux worse?