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Everything You Need to Know About a GERD Diet

Everything You Need to Know About a GERD Diet

If you’re among the estimated 20% of people in the United States who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you know the discomfort and inconvenience it can cause. 

GERD is chronic acid reflux, meaning you suffer bloating, acid backflow, and belching multiple times per week — or even after every meal.

You can manage GERD with lifestyle changes, including some dietary modifications. At

Digestive Disorders Associates, our team helps you understand a GERD diet so you avoid foods that provoke flare-ups.

Here’s what we want you to know about a GERD and managing the condition with diet.

Why does GERD happen?

GERD occurs when the esophageal sphincter fails in protecting the esophagus from stomach acid. The esophagus is a muscular tube that usually closes tightly at the bottom after food passes into the stomach, preventing food from coming back up. 

This process of preventing backflow of stomach acid may fail if the esophageal defenses are overwhelmed by gastric contents. The failure may occur due to a structural issue, like a hiatal hernia. Eating large meals can also cause the stomach to distend so there isn’t enough pressure at the esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux. 

Your diet can’t change structural issues or strengthen a weak esophageal sphincter, but it can help control GERD symptoms by reducing the amount and quality of your stomach acid. 

The GERD diet discourages certain foods

We recommend you avoid foods that are commonly known to be heartburn triggers. These foods tend to delay the digestive process, which means they stay in the stomach longer and keep acid roiling for an extended period of time.

These foods include:

We’ll also help you identify other foods that aggravate your symptoms. Many people find tomato-based sauces, chocolate, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, and peppermint are also irritating. 

The GERD diet encourages certain behaviors

When it comes to GERD, how you eat is sometimes as important as what you eat. When we recommend the GERD diet, we also recommend that you follow a few suggestions.

Avoid eating close to bedtime

If food is sitting in your stomach when you lie down at night (or for an afternoon nap), the stomach acid is more likely to creep up your esophagus. 

Eat small meals

Because large meals cause stomach distension and lessen the strength of the esophageal sphincter, we recommend you go for multiple small meals during the day rather than a few large ones. 

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly

These steps help make digestion go more smoothly.

The GERD diet encourages certain foods

We recommend specific foods that help fill you up so you don’t overeat. These are high-fiber options like whole grains, root vegetables, and green vegetables. For example, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and asparagus are all great options.

It’s also smart to focus on foods that are less acidic; they can offset stomach acid. Bananas, cauliflower, melons, and nuts are examples. 

Watery foods, like cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, and herbal tea help weaken stomach acid. 

Ginger is a powerful digestive aid that eases irritation in the digestive tract. And, although lemon juice is quite acidic, when a small amount is mixed with warm water and honey, it neutralizes stomach acid. 

If you are suffering recurrent and persistent heartburn, don’t just rely on home remedies to ease your symptoms. Make sure you come see us. We can offer medications to help reduce overproduction of stomach acid and run screenings to make sure frequent acid reflux has not damaged your esophagus. 

Call today to set up an appointment or use the online tool to schedule. You can contact one of our offices in Gambrills, Chester, or Annapolis, Maryland.

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