It’s staggering but true that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from GERD.

It causes a range of unpleasant side effects for people when they eat. And it’s not just short-term pain that’s a concern.

If left untreated, GERD can lead to complications, such as esophagitis. This painful inflammation of the esophagus can make it difficult to swallow.

But the good news is that diet changes can help to relieve some of the symptoms. We’ve put together a handy guide to three acid reflux diet options that can help sufferers get their symptoms under control. Let’s explore them together.

Diet Option 1: High-Fiber Foods

Many people with GERD take anti-reflux prescription medications to control their symptoms. However, all medications can have side effects, and many people prefer alternative options. One route everyone with GERD should consider is changing their diet and trying natural supplements

Studies have uncovered groups of foods that people with GERD may find help to reduce their symptoms. The first to consider is high-fiber foods. 

One study looked at people with GERD who were on a low-fiber diet. Researchers gave them psyllium husk, which is high in fiber.

The result was that they experienced less heartburn and fewer gastroesophageal refluxes. But taking a fiber supplement is not the only way to increase fiber intake.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. The following foods are great sources of dietary fiber:

  • Whole grains, e.g. brown rice
  • Green vegetables
  • Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts
  • Fruits with edible skins, like apples and pears
  • Root vegetables, like sweet potatoes and carrots

They may also help by promoting a feeling of fullness. This can help people not to overeat, which in turn causes acid reflux.

People who don’t currently eat a lot of fiber should increase their intake gradually. The daily recommended intake is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.

Most people don’t eat nearly enough fiber each day. But they shouldn’t suddenly increase their fiber intake all at once. If they do, they may develop bloating, constipation, and excess flatulence. 

Diet Option 2: High Water Content Foods

Unfortunately, many popular drinks do not do GERD suffers any favors. Carbonated beverages cause burping, which can cause stomach acid to come up into the esophagus. Caffeine also weakens the esophageal sphincter, so it’s a good idea to steer clear of coffee and tea.

But plain water is a great alternative, and it doesn’t have any negative side effects. Getting some of their water intake from high water content food can also help.

Lots of fruits and vegetables are high in water and can help to dilute stomach acid. This includes:

  • Melons
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Lettuce 
  • Zucchini

These foods are naturally low in fat and sugar. This is great for people who are trying to lose weight, which is also recommended for GERD sufferers who are overweight or obese.

There are lots of ways to make these foods more exciting. Why not chop up a big pile of fruit into a class fruit salad? Or stick chunky pieces on skewers and throw them on the grill?

Green smoothies are another great way to go. Just don’t load up on acidic fruits like oranges which can make GERD symptoms worse.  

Diet Option 3: Alkaline Foods

GERD is caused by stomach acid, so it stands to reason that acidic foods would make the problem worse. An acid reflux diet plan should be built around alkaline foods. This can counteract excess acid levels.

The foods that are naturally alkaline include:

  • Most fruits and vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Tofu

However, many other common foods are acidic. This includes citrus fruits, dairy products, grains, and processed foods. 

Foods to Avoid

Everybody’s system reacts a little differently to food. It’s a good idea to keep a food diary and log GERD symptoms after eating particular foods. 

Research has shown that the following foods cause GERD symptoms in many people and may be good to avoid.

Fried Foods

Sadly for those who love them, fried foods should not form part of any acid reflux diet menu. First, they cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and release stomach acid into the esophagus. 

Then they hang around in the stomach for a long time, meaning those gastric juices also have more time to cause acid reflux. Finally, they cause us to gain weight, which is bad for anyone suffering from GERD.

Acidic Fruits

Acidic fruits, including the tomato which often hangs out in the vegetable department, are not recommended on any diet for acid reflux. They ramp up acid levels and can cause acid reflux. If they can’t live without them, people should try combining them with yogurt which coats the esophagus as they eat, reducing symptoms.

Chocolate

Sorry, but chocolate doesn’t help on several levels. It’s high in fat, contains caffeine, and also makes the body release serotonin. Serotonin is another of those pesky chemicals that loves to open the esophageal sphincter!

Alcohol

Alcohol causes heartburn for lots of GERD sufferers. Plus, it often comes in carbonated beverages, which also make the problem worse.

Unsurprisingly given its effects, alcohol also relaxes the esophageal sphincter. It’s often very acidic and it can irritate the esophagus. 

The Best Diet for GERD

The best GERD diet plan is one that avoids the foods that cause symptoms while providing balanced nutrition. For most sufferers, it takes time and patience to find the right acid reflux diet plan. But the benefits are huge and can help them to avoid complications such as esophagitis.

GerdLi is a natural, physician-engineered alternative to prescription GERD medications. It uses several natural compounds to decrease stomach acid content and reduces heartburn. It targets ten of the most common symptoms of reflux.

Click here to order GerdLi today!

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Dr. Minhas, M.D.

Board-certified internal medicine (ABIM)