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GERD Diet: Understanding the Effect for Acid Reflux

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GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition when stomach acid continually rushes back into the tube between your mouth and stomach. This backwash, or acid reflux, irritates the oesophageal lining. It is a common problem, and many people frequently experience acid reflux. Moreover, chronic acid reflux might lead to GERD if it often occurs over time. It is also known as Heartburn.

A significant issue with constant acid reflux and GERD is that it damages the muscular ring, also known as the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). The ring is located between your oesophagus and stomach. The condition can lead to acid indigestion or heartburn. Although dietary and lifestyle modifications can reduce your GERD symptoms in most situations, chronic acid reflux or GERD may require treatment or surgery. However, the GERD diet can improve this condition.

Understanding the GERD Diet

A GERD diet is a form of dietary modification that can help prevent or manage conditions like acid reflux or GERD. Hence, several medical experts consider it the first line of treatment. 

It is not a specific eating plan. Instead, it is about eating particular foods that can help treat or manage the condition while avoiding foods that can worsen it. For example, foods that trigger heartburn are foods high in fat, salt, or spices, like fried foods, fast foods, pizza, cheese, citrus fruits etc. However, many people find it challenging to avoid these foods totally. So, moderation is the key. At the same time, you must eat foods that prevent or reduce the instances of acid reflux.

When creating a GERD diet, you must be aware of foods to eat and avoid. Although you can do it independently, it is always best to consult a nutritionist. Since every individual has different needs, a nutritionist can help create a customised eating plan considering your requirements and condition.

Foods to Eat on a GERD Diet

It is vital to eat particular foods in a GERD diet. These foods help prevent the condition and manage your GERD symptoms. Hence, understanding what is healthy for your state is vital. Given below are some foods that you should eat:

Vegetables

Vegetables usually have minimal sugar and fat content. Additionally, they are a good source of fibre and healthy carbohydrates. Some suitable vegetables for a GERD diet include asparagus, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, kale, potatoes, and spinach.

Fruits

Most fruits (other than citrus fruits) reduce the likelihood of causing GERD symptoms. Fruits are an excellent source of fibre, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. A few options you can eat on your GERD diet include apples, avocados, bananas, berries, melons, peaches, and pears.

Protein 

The importance of proteins is no secret. However, it is important to include lean proteins with a low-cholesterol value. Some healthy proteins suitable for a GERD diet include almonds, beans, chicken, fish, lean poultry, lentils, seafood, and turkey.

Alkaline Foods

The GERD diet should constitute foods with a low pH value. That is because foods with a high pH value can irritate your stomach lining and build more stomach acid. Foods like watermelon, fennel, nuts, banana, and cauliflower have low pH. Hence, these are best suited to fit in a GERD diet.

Fibre-rich foods

You can incorporate fibre-rich foods like oatmeal, quinoa, etc., into your diet. It is not only healthy but necessary for an individual’s overall well-being. 

The HealthifyMe Note

It is always best to follow a diet balanced with vegetables, protein, and fruits. The GERD diet should include foods that help prevent the symptoms and avoid foods that can increase the chances of the stomach acid flowing back. Moreover, it tends to cut out an entire food group. In contrast, some foods can still be allowed in this condition. Therefore, health professionals recommend adopting a balanced diet.

Foods to Avoid on a GERD Diet

It is vital to understand the food products you need to avoid altogether. It is also crucial to prevent the consumption of any fast food. Avoid all fast-food products like pizza, burgers, or other unhealthy items. It is critical to recognise that, no matter how handy it may be to grab a burger on the way to work, this is not the case. It harms your body. It works like a slow poison, which causes a lot of trouble. Even if you cannot find the difference now, it is still causing tremendous health trouble you might have to encounter later on. 

Certain food items that you need to avoid are as follows:

High Fat Food Products

According to research, fried and fatty foods may relax the LES, increasing the likelihood of stomach acid reflux into the oesophagus. But, unfortunately, these foods also hamper your digestion.

Reducing your daily overall fat intake can help because eating high-fat foods puts you at an increased risk of experiencing reflux symptoms. It includes all fried food items like french fries, onion rings, and other products like beef, pork, lamb, ice cream, and chips.

Citrus Fruits

In a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables are essential. However, some fruits, especially those with a high acid content, might worsen or trigger GERD symptoms. Therefore, if you frequently get acid reflux, you should cut back on or avoid foods like lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, and grapefruit.

Spicy Food

Many people have heartburn after eating sour and spicy meals. Track your meals carefully in your diet if you consume a lot of spices like red chilly, Garam masala etc. You might be more sensitive to some of these items, including spicy meals.

The HealthifyMe Note

There are certain food items that you need to avoid altogether. Some food products that make this list are – high-fat foods, fried food products, citrus fruits, and spicy food. You must also avoid eating anything acidic. Instead, try to include more alkaline food products in your diet. It will help neutralise the acid within the system and provide relief.

GERD Diet: Reference Meal Plan

It is vital to consult an expert nutritionist before planning to start any eating plan. Dietary modifications for the treatment of chronic reflux are not common for all. Few treatments might offer temporary relief but not long-term relief. Therefore, choosing the proper diet and lifestyle modifications is necessary to find what works best for you. It’s also crucial to realise that particular food may not be harmful earlier in the day but cause reflux when consumed 3–4 hours before bedtime. Therefore, when you eat is as important as what you eat.

  • Breakfast: Utappam (2 servings) with green chutney without mint leaves (1 tbsp)
  • Mid-day meal: 1 fruit, such as avocado (avoid citrus fruits)
  • Lunch: rice (1 cup), soya chunk curry with only potatoes (½ cup), cabbage sabzi (½ cup), and a small cup of low-fat yoghurt
  • Evening: Green gram sprouts (1 cup)
  • Dinner: 2 Roti, Green beans sabzi ( ½ cup), and cucumber raita (½ cup)

Some Tips to Follow

Follow a Healthy and Balanced Diet

Eating a healthy and balanced diet to cure or manage GERD is crucial. A balanced diet consists of all kinds of nutrients and minerals the body requires. In addition, since the situation occurs due to acid formation inside the stomach, you must prevent excess acid formation through a balanced meal.

Avoid Smoking

It is vital to understand how harmful smoking is to your health. It is crucial to immediately quit this habit, especially if you suffer from health issues. It will reduce the possibility of GERD disease.

Stay Hydrated

It is vital to keep hydrated. It will help your body reduce acid formation and will provide relief. Therefore, drink the proper or recommended amount of water every day.

Avoid Alcohol 

The irritant alcohol is known to weaken the LES and cause reflux symptoms. But although some individuals may see an increase in symptoms after just one drink, others can handle small amounts. However, it is best to stay away from any form of alcohol.

Improve Your Posture During and After Eating

Eating is advisable to eat upright and avoid lying down for at least two hours after a meal. After a meal, getting up and moving encourages the gastric juices to flow in the appropriate direction.

Conclusion

A GERD diet is an eating pattern that emphasises green vegetables, a lot of protein, and nutrients in the right amounts. If you have GERD, you don’t have to give up all your favourite foods to stay healthy. Frequent and minor alterations in your diet are sufficient. Furthermore, there are various ways you can cure the disease or stay away from it. A healthy and balanced lifestyle is one of the best ways to do that. Try to follow the proper routine and take advice from your healthcare professional about what you should eat and what you must avoid. 

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