Acid Reflux (GERD) Foods to avoid
Foods that cause acid reflux (GERD)
Acid reflux occurs when the contents of a person’s stomach rise into their oesophagus. If the acid usually contained in the stomach leaks out in this way, it can cause pain and discomfort in the chest and abdomen. If acid reflux happens on a regular basis, then you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition that can be managed by changing dietary and lifestyle factors.
If acid reflux is affecting your quality of life, there are a few things you can do around mealtimes to limit your discomfort. Firstly, you should try to keep your body upright for an hour or so after your meal. You may also want to try limiting the amount of food you eat in a single sitting and changing the kinds of food you eat. This is because certain foods may trigger your reflux symptoms. We’ve put together a useful guide below detailing the types of foods and drinks that are best avoided if you suffer from GERD or want to avoid reflux.
Acid reflux: Foods to avoid
Fried foods and foods with a high fat content
Generally speaking, fatty foods can reduce the amount of pressure on your lower oesophageal sphincter, causing your stomach to empty at a slower rate. This can increase your chances of developing heartburn and other reflux symptoms. High-fat foods to avoid may include:
- Whole milk
- Onion rings
- High-fat salad cream and other dressings
- Ice cream
- Red meat with a high fat content
Certain fruits and vegetables
Whilst it is important to include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet, certain varieties could trigger acid reflux. These include:
- Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes
- Tomatoes and tomato-based products such as sauces, pizza, and salsa
Chillies contain a substance known as capsaicin that can cause abdominal pain and burning if you suffer from GERD. It should be noted, however, that people who eat spicy food on a regular basis tend to build up a tolerance that can mitigate the severity of symptoms. If you are keen to eat spicy food, try to build your tolerance up gradually.
A number of common beverages can trigger acid reflux symptoms, including:
- Alcohol (This can also lead to Gastritis)
- Tomato juice
- Citrus juice
- Carbonated drinks
Other foods that could cause reflux include:
- Black pepper
- Foods with a high salt content
Diet and lifestyle is the single biggest cause of Acid Reflux, as important as it is to avoid foods that may trigger your acid reflux, it is also important to maintain a healthy diet and eat foods that help acid reflux.
Symptoms of acid reflux
If you suspect you may have acid reflux or GERD, you should look out for the most common symptoms. These include:
Heartburn: A discomfort or burning pain that can be felt anywhere from the stomach up to the chest and sometimes even the throat
Regurgitation: A feeling of acid coming up to the throat or the mouth. It may taste bitter or sour
Symptoms vary from person to person, and you may also experience any number of the following:
- Wheezing or coughing
- A dry throat
- Dysphagia (the feeling that food is stuck in your throat)
- Unintentional weight loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is always a good idea to visit your doctor. Although acid reflux is a very common and manageable problem, the symptoms can also mimic those of other more serious issues. Once other problems have been ruled out, you can set about discovering your reflux triggers.
Know your triggers
Acid reflux triggers can vary wildly from person to person, so it is a good idea to keep track of your own personal triggers. Keep a food diary and try to link up episodes of reflux with certain meals. Over time, you will be able to work out whether any particular foods or drinks are particularly troublesome.
How to treat acid reflux
Whilst avoiding triggering foods and drinks is one of the best ways to treat acid reflux, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications available for when an episode strikes. These include:
- Foaming agents and antacids such as Omeprazole
- H2 blockers to inhibit acid production
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Prokinetics to make the stomach empty faster
A number of simple lifestyle changes may also help. These include:
- Eat smaller meals
- Quit smoking
- Raise the head of your bed by putting a few sturdy blocks underneath it
- Leaving at least three hours between dinner and bedtime
- Taking naps whilst sitting upright
- Losing weight
- Asking your doctor about whether any medications you currently take could be causing your acid reflux.