Gastroesophageal reflux is an illness that affects many people when they eat. The esophagus is not just a simple muscle because it has muscle around it that is always closed and allows food to enter the esophagus when it opens. It prevents stomach acid from “rising” or in other words, reflux. Learn about the proper diet for people with reflux in this article.
What to Know About Reflux
When the muscle that covers the muscle is weakened, the symptoms start because the acid starts to stick to the esophagus walls. The signs that you have reflux are: acidity, a bitter or acidic taste in your mouth, or chest pain. This disorder is called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). There are various factors for the reason behind reflux happening, especially food.
The diets that are designed to prevent reflux are easy to follow. Patients can eat all the food groups with some exceptions. They need to eat higher amounts of vitamin C (in supplements if the person cannot tolerate tomatoes, oranges, or peppers).
The esophagus muscle can weaken for more than one reason. Some recommendations to treat reflux may be useful to leave the symptoms behind:
- Avoid the use of tobacco because nicotine weakens and relaxes the muscle
- Avoid chewing gum or sweets that are very hard because they increase the amount of air you swallow, which causes reflux to happen
- Don’t lay down quickly after eating at night. Avoid eating very heavy food at dinner as much as possible. We suggest you wait for three hours.
- Avoid tight clothing, bending down, or working out after meals
- Eat small portions more often
- If you are overweight, try to slim down or at least lose a few pounds because obesity increases the possibilities of having reflux
- Raise your bed’s headboard 15 centimeters
- Try not to eat a lot of french fries, whole dairy products (especially milk), chocolates, oils, pepper, creams, and fast food
- Citrus juices, coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages irritate the esophagus (we recommend avoiding them).
- Don’t eat too many acidic or spicy foods
- Do light exercise one or two hours after eating
- Moderate the amount of alcohol that you drink. Don’t exceed more than 2 glasses a day for women or 3 for men. Try not to drink as much as possible.
- Try to sleep on your left side because that is where your stomach is located. Avoid the right side, face up, or face down.
Advisable Food Groups for Reflux
People that suffer from reflux should consume and/or avoid the following food groups:
- Dairy products: we recommend non-lactose milk, yogurt light, skim milk. The ones that should be avoided are chocolate milk or whole milk.
- Vegetables: they are all allowable, except tomato.
- Fruits: we suggest eating apples, melons, strawberries, bananas, peaches, and pears. Avoid citrus fruits (grapes, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons).
- Bread and grains: we recommend all bread to be made with low fat milk. Bread that is made with whole milk is prohibited.
- Meat: we recommend meat low in fat, fish, turkey, and chicken. Avoid bacon, chicken skin, cold or fatty meat.
- Fat and oils: food with these characteristics is not recommended, especially those that are from animals.
- Desserts and sweets: the kinds that are made with less than three grams of fat are recommended. You should avoid chocolate and desserts made with large amounts of fat and oils.
- Drinks: any kind that is decaffeinated, tea (not mint), juices (with exception of citrus kinds), and water are all recommended. You should avoid alcohol, coffee, mint tea, and mineral beverages.
- Soups: the only ones that are recommended are the low fat kind. You should avoid chicken soup, creams, or soups that have milk.
Natural Supplements to Treat Reflux
You will find the best natural remedies to treat reflux in the following list:
- Apple cider vinegar: add two tablespoons of coffee or 10 mL in a cup of water. Mix it well and drink it three times a day.
- Carrot or cabbage juice: you should drink a cup a day.
- Digestive plants: they can be rosemary, laurel, salvia, or thyme, as a condiment or spices in your daily meals.
- Papaya: eat this fruit everyday, especially during the morning. It will help you digest proteins.
- Baking soda: a tablespoon (or 5 mL) dissolved in a glass of water will relieve the symptoms
- Ginger: cut a few slices of ginger and boil in plenty of water for a few minutes. Drink it like a tea and add honey to sweeten it.
- Almonds: they should be raw. This will help balance stomach pH and also to incorporate calcium if you cannot drink milk.
- Aloe vera: drink 60 mL of aloe vera with water everyday.
- Warm lemon water: drink it on an empty stomach 15 minutes before breakfast to balance acid levels in the digestive system.
- Chamomile tea: it control the symptoms of reflux. It can also be trigonella.
Your daily diet can include red apples, ginger root, basil leaves, herbal tea, fennel seeds, yellow mustard, and pickles.
Images courtesy of I am, Emilian Robert Vicol, IRRI Photos, Mike Haller, Koon, Miheco, Siona Karen.