Do you suffer from GERD? This stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and describes the condition of having acid reflex 2+ times during the week. The symptoms include heartburn, which causes a burning feeling around your chest. Fun Fact: Up to 30% of the US population has GERD based on a 2014 mega-study. This is based on various factors including more stress and bad diets in the modern world. This disease can be tough to deal with but can often be controlled with lifestyle changes like a GERD diet plan. There’s no food that “cures” GERD but certain ones help to control symptoms.
There are different ways you can deal with GERD symptoms. They include reducing stress, elevating your head when sleeping, and avoiding foods like chili peppers, orange juice, and chocolate. Following a GERD diet plan is another effective way because you’ll have more control about picking GERD-friendly foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seafood, avocados, and ginger are some of the many foods that can help to relieve GERD symptoms. You should also learn about your triggers so you can avoid eating such foods when doing meal planning. These foods can cause various unwanted GERD-related symptoms, which is something you’ll want to avoid.
What Is GERD?
People are diagnosed with this condition when they experience acid reflux at least twice per week. This results when stomach acid backs up/refluxes into the person’s esophagus (food pipe). This condition is known by other names like acid reflux disease.
GERD produces various symptoms including “heartburn.” There are others like a burning throat and a sour taste in the mouth. If you experience these symptoms you should talk to your doctor. If the condition becomes worse you might experience something known as “erosive esophagitis.”
When you eat there’s, a valve known as the LES between your food pipe and stomach that lets food/liquids go into the stomach. Sometimes the valve doesn’t close completely or opens frequently.
In those situations, acid can go up into the food pipe and trigger GERD symptoms. There are various steps you can take to treat and even prevent these symptoms.
If you experience these symptoms frequently then make sure to visit your doctor ASAP:
- Chest pain
- “Lump” in the throat
- Sleeping problems
- Worse asthma
- Problems swallowing
- Strong cough
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Burning feeling in the chest
You should see your doctor if you experience multiple symptoms. You should also contact your doctor immediately if you experience certain conditions. They include chest pain with shortness of breath or arm/jaw pain.
The reason is these could be signs you’re experiencing a heart attack. It’s a much more serious situation than GERD.
There are also certain risk factors you should be aware of that increase your chance of having GERD. They include:
- Stomach emptying delayed
- Connective tissue problems
- Bulging of top of the stomach to the top of the diaphragm
Various factors might make acid reflux worse:
- Medications like aspirin
- Drinking coffee/alcohol
- Eating trigger foods like fatty/fried foods
- Big meals or eating late-night
There are also certain complications you might experience, which can make things worse.
Making a GERD Diet Plan
If you have GERD then it’s important to know which foods you should eat and avoid. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for GERD. However, certain foods might help to control your symptoms. They include:
This root has anti-inflammatory properties that can treat heartburn and other digestive problems naturally. You can add a little sliced/grated ginger root to your recipes/smoothies. You can also drink ginger tea to reduce the symptoms.
2. Egg Whites
Make sure to eat the yolks if you have GERD since they’re high-fat and could trigger your reflux symptoms.
3. Fruits (non-citrus)
Make sure to avoid citrus fruits since they’re high in acid. However, some other good options include:
4. Healthy Fats
We often think of fat as being unhealthy but it depends on what kind it is. Many foods include “good” fat including:
Make sure to avoid trans and saturated fats since those are “bad” fats. It’s better to eat unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Whole Grains
Oat whole-wheat breakfast food. It’s also a whole grain and good fiber source. Another plus of this food is it can help to absorb stomach acid and lower reflux symptoms. Some other good options include brown rice and whole-wheat bread.
6. Seafood/lean meats
These include fish, shrimp, turkey, and chicken. They’re low-fat and help to treat acid reflux symptoms. Make sure to use healthy cooking options like broiled, grilled, poached, baked, or boiled.
These are usually low in sugar/fat and help to lower stomach acid. Some good options include asparagus, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy veggies, and cucumbers.
These are some of the best options if you want to eat foods that can help control your GERD symptoms.
Lifestyle Tips for GERD
1. Eat small portions
Make sure you keep your portions small at mealtimes. Another option is to eat 4-6 small meals during the day instead of three big ones. This makes it easier for your stomach to digest food and helps to prevent GERD symptoms. It’s also effective in keeping your blood sugar up during the day so you’ll be less likely to binge when you have snack attacks.
2. Chew your food more
Some people chew their food 50x while eating. It’s a bit extreme but there are various benefits to chewing your food more. It helps to add more enzymes to your food, which helps to break them down. You’ll also make the food bits smaller, which are easier to digest. Both of these factors can help to improve digestion and prevent GERD symptoms.
3. Elevate your head in bed
You can do this easily by sleeping on 2 pillows instead of 1. It’s basic physics and uses gravity to help prevent acid reflux. It’s also a good idea to lie on your back instead of your side or stomach to get similar benefits.
4. Don’t eat too close to bedtime
Make sure to eat 2-3 hours before your bedtime. This will allow you to digest your food and start the digestion processes after the stomach. Besides, your acid levels will drop before you lie down, which is when heartburn symptoms are more likely.
What about after-dinner snacks? If you’re going to eat them make sure to eat them hours before bedtime. You should also make sure it’s a light meal and includes GERD-friendly foods.
5. Avoid your heartburn triggers
Make sure to avoid foods that worsen your acid reflux symptoms. These often include foods like citrus, chocolate, coffee, mint, fatty foods, tomato, etc. People have different triggers so if you avoid yours it will provide you with a more effective GERD diet plan.