- 1 Foods To Avoid With GERD | The GERD Diet
- 2 What Is GERD?
- 3 Link Between Your Food And GERD
- 4 The Problem With Antacid Pills
- 5 Facing The Facts
- 6 10 Foods To Avoid With GERD – Your New GERD Diet
- 7 Conclusion
Foods To Avoid With GERD | The GERD Diet
In this article, I will discuss how to stop acid reflux and share with you a GERD diet for acid reflux. I will go over some information about a GERD diet and foods to avoid with acid reflux. I’ve done some research for you and made a 10 day plan to stop acid reflux that you can download below. Let’s get started…
Who hasn’t overindulged in a meal and paid the price for it later?
Whether it’s a delicious hot fudge sundae or a quick burrito behind the wheel, you’ve probably experienced a fiery sensation that grabs your lower chest after eating something you know you shouldn’t have.
And it gets worse…
This feeling is followed by a bitter aftertaste in your mouth and throat which persists for hours leaving you helpless and uncomfortable.
You might be suffering from something called GERD. I’ll get to that in a minute. But rest assured, you’re not alone. In this article I will give you some insight on foods to avoid with GERD.
In this article, I am going to tell you how to stop acid reflux by explaining the different foods to avoid with GERD and help you choose a diet for acid reflux to avoid complications.
But before I get into the details its best you get a thorough understanding of GERD, its symptoms and its causes.
What Is GERD?
Research claims that more than 60 million Americans experience Gastoesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) also known as heartburn and acid reflux at least once every 30 days.
Despite the familiarity and repeated occurrence of this condition, many people are looking for natural remedies for acid reflux and what foods to avoid with GERD.
Your food is chewed and travels from your mouth to your stomach via your esophagus. Then your food is broken down by your digestive enzymes in your stomach before it enters your gut for absorption of essential nutrients.
But sometimes this process is disrupted!
In such cases, your stomach acid and other contents rush back into your esophagus creating an unbearable discomfort in your abdomen. This is why it’s important to focus on low acid foods.
The reflux of digestive acid in your esophagus irritates your cell lining, making it a very painful encounter. This is precisely what happens within your digestive system during severe acid reflux.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a tiny flap of muscle present at the end of your esophagus and the beginning of your stomach.
It acts as a shield that regulates the flow of food into your stomach and restricts the back-flow of digested food into your esophagus.
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects this flap, making it difficult to restrict the backwash of acid and stomach contents into your esophagus.
GERD is simply another term for chronic acid reflux, which is closely associated with the kind of food you ingest.
As opposed to GERD…
People may suffer from an acid reflux independent of dietary and lifestyle factors.
It is a common mistake to confuse acid reflux and GERD as the same condition.
Acid reflux is only one of the major symptomatic manifestations of GERD while other common symptoms of GERD include:
- Cough or wheezing
- Bad breath
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Sore throat
It’s surprising that each year GERD is associated with 10.2 million doctor visits, 6.3 million diagnostic tests and 3.8 million hospitalizations.
According to the American Gastroenterological survey, GERD affects sleep in 63% and productivity in 40% of its patients.
Despite such outrageous scientific data…
There is a lack of technical studies and clinical trials on this subject.
To top it off…
- About 5-10% of patients who suffer from long term GERD develop a condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus.
- Long term GERD can also lead to the formation of esophageal ulcers and raise the chances of developing esophageal cancer.
The American College of Gastroenterology, along with The National Institute of Health, agrees on the diet restriction treatment that has been in practice for the last 15-20 years.
This restriction plan includes cutting down on culinary joys such as:
- Fried and fatty foods
- All alcoholic or carbonated beverages
- Mint and more
You can download a lifestyle change checklist for foods to avoid with GERD here.
Such minor lifestyle changes accompanied by over the counter (OTC) medications, like antacids, have been medically accepted as the first line of treatment for mild acid reflux.
But first, let’s take a look at what foods to avoid with acid reflux and GERD to help you alleviate some of the severe symptoms.
Link Between Your Food And GERD
Now that we know that GERD is closely linked to the acid contents in your stomach, the first step towards improving this condition is to learn the foods to avoid with GERD and some natural remedies for acid reflux.
It is important to avoid highly acidic foods.
The amount of acid produced in your stomach is directly associated with the kinds of food you ingest.
It’s not only “what” but also “when” you eat that triggers severe acid reflux.
For instance, a specific food item may be harmless when consumed early on in the day as compared to about 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Nutrition and diet are the 2 basic considerations for those who suffer from chronic acid reflux. These dietary changes begin with foods to avoid with acid reflux and GERD.
Drafting a standard GERD diet plan that can help all patients is not so easy because every person reacts differently to different foods.
- What foods do you eat?
- What time of day do you eat?
- What symptoms do you experience?
Maintaining a record of these answers can help you personally create your own “safe” and “avoid” list as well as aid your physician in outlining a suitable line of treatment for you.
The Problem With Antacid Pills
So why not just take the medications that neutralize stomach acid or restrict its production, right?
Popping an antacid feels like the right thing to do when you have absolutely no time and motivation to keep a close watch on your diet.
The issue with this is, except for the most serious cases of GERD, these medications are not really meant to be taken over long periods of time.
If you were to take these for a long period of time, you may experience negative side effects.
Taking antacids for acid reflux for long periods of time can cause constipation or diarrhea.
Medicines like Prilosec and Prevacid, which actually reduce the production amount of stomach acid, have been linked to increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), pneumonia, and negative drug interactions.
And unfortunately, the many pills now available to treat acid reflux have done little to curtail its incidence. Approximately 40% of American adults now suffer from acid reflux. Rates of esophageal cancer in the U.S. have increased 500% since the 1970s.
Facing The Facts
Research, particularly a study from Denmark, followed more than 9,800 GERD sufferers, that had linked medicines like Prilosec and Prevacid to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
According to a clinical trial, published in the Journal of Gastroenterology Research and Practice in 2013, a total of 268 patients suffering from acid reflux were subjected to diet restrictions.
It was found that an increased intake of meat, oils, salt and calcium is associated with a higher risk of acid reflux as compared to the intake of protein, carbohydrates, vitamin C, grains, potatoes, fruits and eggs.
Another population based study was performed on a group of 317 GERD patients.
The study aimed at exploring the association of dietary guidelines and the severity and frequency of acid reflux.
The study concluded that GERD patients consumed a significantly high proportion of GERD causing foods as compared to the healthy control group.
Let’s take a look at an acid reflux diet, a GERD diet, and what foods to avoid with GERD.
10 Foods To Avoid With GERD – Your New GERD Diet
It’s important to find the right foods to avoid with GERD. Low acid foods should be incorporated into your GERD diet to avoid any unnecessary pains. Let’s take a look at the acid reflux foods to avoid together.
One food to avoid with GERD or if you suffer from acid reflux, are tomatoes. These are a big “no no” for you.
Livestrong.com indicates that even 1 juicy bite of a tomato contains about 10 different types of acids, 3 of which are dominant:
- Citric Acid
- Malic Acid
- Ascorbic Acid
To help you figure out the acidity of foods you can use a pH scale. The pH scale is a widely used scientific standard to measure the acidity of various substances.
This scale ranges from 0 to 14 and the lower the substance ranks on the scale the more acidic it is in nature.
According to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. FDA, fresh tomatoes fall into the 4.3-4.9 range on the pH scale in terms of acidity.
Here are some fun facts…
- The acidity of tomatoes reduces as the fruit ripens and matures.
- Canned tomatoes are more acidic with a pH level of 3.5. The acidity is higher than fresh tomatoes due to the canning process.
If you suffer from acid reflux, keeping tomatoes out of your diet could be beneficial for your health.
Here’s a list of GERD foods to avoid. These are common foods with high fat content:
- French fries and onion rings
- Full-fat butter, whole milk, cheese and sour cream
- Fried meat
- Bacon and Ham fat
- High-fat desserts
- Creamy sauces, gravies and creamy salad dressings
A standard guide recommends 45 grams per day for men and 30 grams a day for women.
Your typical hamburger with a large portion of fries contains over 60 grams of fat! These foods are a particular problem when combined with carbonated drinks like soda, or alcohol and coffee. You should stay away from McDonald’s food especially if you have acid reflux.
Switching to low fat options or creating a personalized GERD diet plan will definitely ease your acid reflux problems.
If you’re like me, you probably kick start your day with brewing a strong cup of coffee. While this cup may wake you up and get you feeling good, it actually can wreak havoc within your system.
How does drinking coffee and caffeine affect your acid reflux…
Your stomach generally produces acid to digest food. Adding caffeinated drinks increases the acidity in your stomach causing acid reflux.
Coffee is highly acidic and stimulates the secretion of gastric acids.
But don’t be fooled…
Thinking that decaffeinated coffee is a safer option as compared to regular coffee is a not going to help with your acid reflux symptoms either!
A study was performed to compare the acid secretion levels after the consumption of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
The study concluded that decaf coffee is a more powerful stimulant of gastric acid secretion as compared to regular coffee.
The caffeine content also varies with the kind of roast you use to brew your coffee. The lighter roast coffee beans have a higher caffeine content as compared to dark roasts.
You may opt for a darker roast of coffee if caffeine is an absolute must for you.
No matter what form of caffeine you consume, it is still on the list of foods to avoid with GERD.
If chocolate is your stress buster, then this section is definitely bad news for you!
Chocolate is also another food to cut out of your diet for acid reflux. Removing this from your GERD diet is going to be wise. Chocolate contains 3 ingredients that can cause reflux:
Let me explain how these 3 ingredients of chocolate are directly associated with the acidity in your stomach.
The star of this list is Methylxanthines. This component of chocolate is known as a smooth muscle relaxant. Methylxanthine has relaxing effects on your lower esophageal sphincter (a type of smooth muscle) thereby directly increasing the chances of severe acid reflux.
About 1.5 ounces of Hershey’s milk chocolate has 9 milligrams of caffeine, but the same amount of Hershey’s Special Dark has tripled quantity of caffeine, which is 30 milligrams.
Compare that to a 12-ounce can of diet soda (35 to 45 milligrams) or an 8-ounce cup of coffee (about 135 milligrams) or tea (40 to 50 milligrams).
In fact, research has shown that the darker the chocolate, the higher its caffeine content.
It’s interesting to note that cocoa bean, the source of edible chocolate, comes from a naturally caffeinated plant. Apart from caffeine, chocolate consists of another stimulant, theobromine, causing acid reflux.
If your physician recommends to cut chocolate from your acid reflux diet, it is highly recommended that you avoid eating chocolate any less than 3 hours before bedtime to avoid repercussions of severe acid reflux.
Engaging in recreational drinking is one of the leading causes of health disorders among young individuals today.
With the post-work pub culture catching up, you tend to forget the harmful effects that alcohol has on your digestive tract.
Several studies have been performed to examine the association of alcohol consumption and GERD.
According to a study, non-heavy alcohol drinkers had a higher prevalence of GERD than heavy drinkers: 56% vs. 49%.
Another study determined that in 95% of cases, chronic excessive alcohol abuse was closely linked to GERD and its symptoms.
Scientists have also identified how different kinds of alcoholic beverages can have different effects on your stomach acid.
Research concluded that both beer and wine create similar levels of gastroesophageal refluxes (beer – 25% and wine 23%) posing an equal threat to patients suffering from chronic acid reflux.
Following your new acid reflux diet and cutting back on your “Thirsty Thursdays” can help if you suffer from acid reflux.
Rich flavors in food is generally the most common cause of acid reflux. Onions are one ofthe basic flavorings used to spice up dishes all over the world.
While onions are extremely beneficial in treating heart disorders and cancer, they are the one of the foods to avoid with GERD.
Onions are a common heartburn trigger and are known to reduce the pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) making it easy for the digestive acids to flow back up.
A study was performed on a group of people (of which 16 were healthy and 16 suffered from GERD) to investigate the effects raw onions had on acid reflux and its symptoms.
2 diet scenarios with and without onions were tested. The test included 4 variables:
- Reflux episodes
- Heartburn episodes
- % of time the esophageal acid was lower than pH 4
Results observed by the use of a pH probe, concluded that onions are a potent and long lasting refluxogenic agent that significantly increase the episodes of heartburn in those who et onions.
If you just can’t avoid onions…
Try using small quantities (in a cooked form) to reduce serious acidic issues; if you still get heartburn, consider cutting this vegetable out of your acid reflux diet.
While garlic helps to cure infections and colds, it can also induce bouts of acid reflux. Garlic consumption is accompanied by a number of minor side effects including:
- Upset stomach
- Bad breath
- Body odor
More than just increasing your stomach acid content, garlic primarily causes acid reflux by slowing down the emptying of your stomach.
How you use garlic determines whether it can be on your team, or against you.
There is a higher probability of experiencing side effects from eating foods that cause heartburn if you eat raw garlic. It’s best to avoid eating too much garlic, especially in the raw form if you experience chronic acid reflux.
So don’t forget it to add it to your list of foods to avoid with acid reflux.
Peppermint, scientifically known as Mentha piperita, is a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste and tea. Peppermint relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acids to flow back u as well.
Peppermint can also aggravate the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. If you are already suffering from a severe chronic acid reflux condition, try to avoid peppermint.
Most peppermint products come with statutory warnings of avoiding them if you have GERD or suffer from acid reflux. According to Everyday Health:
A study was carried out to establish risk factors of GERD and the effects of peppermint on the severity of acid reflux. This trial included a study group of 513 individuals.
They were further divided into 2 major groups:
- One that had a recent history of GERD
- A healthy control group
This multi-variate analysis spanning from 2006 to 2011 confirmed that frequent consumption of peppermint tea was a major risk factor for GERD patients (with a confidence interval of 95%).
The study also indicated a strong need for further investigation and research to evaluate the association of peppermint and GERD in detail. But that’s enough for me to stop eating peppermint if I was feeling heartburn after some peppermint tea.
9. Spices And Flavors
The main reason people falter from their healthy diet is because their meals are not well flavored with their favorite spices.
Bland food doesn’t taste so great. I personally know a few who love their meals extremely hot and flavorful! But little do they know that such heavy seasoning is bringing them one step closer to severe acid reflux.
- Fresh herbs and spices are less likely to trigger reflux than their dried counterparts.This is mainly because of the high levels of preservatives in pre-made spice mixes that make them last longer and harder to digest.
- Food does not always have to be bland, but avoiding strong spices like chili powder, cayenne pepper, curry, mustard, nutmeg and clove can help.
A study published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences said that curry induced severe acid reflux in people suffering from GERD as compared to their healthy counter parts.
In this study, researchers undertook a 24 hour long ambulatory pH monitoring of volunteers (both healthy and suffering from GERD) 3 hours after the consumption of 400-800 grams of curry.
Another study group was given water instead of curry and tested in the same way for a comparative analysis.
What they found was that out of the 25 GERD patients and 19 healthy volunteers, the GERD patients were the ones who suffered from severe acid reflux as opposed to the healthy volunteers.
Researchers also suggested that it would be beneficial for GERD patients to avoid eating curry to cut down the episodes of acid reflux and heartburn.
Studies like these clearly suggest that if you suffer from GERD, foods to avoid with acid reflux would be the spicy and flavorful ones.
10.Citric Fruits And Juices
Citric acid is naturally present in fruits such as oranges, lime, lemons and grapefruit. Citric acid is commonly used as a flavoring and preserving agent for candy, soft drinks and sweet juices.
When it comes to acid reflux, you may want to steer clear from this acid; unlike your stomach, your esophagus is not used to withstanding the extra acid produced by fruits or juices.
In 2005 a study was performed to determine the citric acid threshold in patients suffering from chronic GERD. In this study, 30 GERD patients (10 men and 20 women) and 15 healthy individuals took up the citric acid threshold challenge.
It was found that the citric acid threshold in GERD patients was significantly lower at a 9.62 mg/ml as compared to healthy subjects at 50.8 mg/ml.
But orange juice isn’t the only place you’re going to find citric acid. It is also added to carbonated drinks to add flavor.
Limiting such sources of citric acid will most definitely help reduce your painful symptoms of GERD.
Friends and family may try to suggest a particular acid reflux diet that includes eating almost nothing at all, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Be sure to take these foods to avoid with GERD seriously.
Always remember your body is unique and what may work for you may not work so well for someone else.
I strongly suggest your first goal should include maintaining a personal log of what you eat, how much you eat and at what time you are eating.
This log will certainly help you put a finger on acid reflux foods to avoid in order to calm your pain.
Which foods trigger your acid reflux?
Share your views and ideas on your diet for acid reflux and let me know how your GERD diet is working for you. Comment in the section below.