Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition in which stomach acid and partly digested food travel up from the stomach into the esophagus instead of traveling down into the small bowel. The acid causes very unpleasant symptoms, including heartburn. This is a burning sensation in the chest. GERD is caused by the faulty conduct of a circular muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. This muscle is found at the conclusion of the esophagus where the stomach begins. Normally, when food leaves the esophagus and enters the stomach, the LES closes the stomach entrance, preventing food from going the wrong way. In people with GERD the LES does not do its job, allowing acid and stomach contents to travel backward (or ‘reflux’) into the esophagus.
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the name for the valve or circle of muscle between the stomach and the esophagus) doesn’t close correctly, failing to prevent stomach juices from traveling back up, or refluxing, into the esophagus. When the esophagus lining comes into contact with these juices, a burning sensation in the chest and/or the throat is produced. This is called heartburn.
What about …
Although it seems strange, heartburn may also be symptomatic of too little stomach acid. The level of stomach acid needs to be enough for digestion to be effective, and prevent the stomach from being obliged to work much harder for the food to be digested. In time, the extra effort of the stomach may give rise to acid reflux happening.
Broader Discussion on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Once gastroesophageal reflex disease appears it generally stays-it’s a chronic, life-long condition. There are medications that can relieve GERD symptoms. However, a change in diet can likewise be very helpful in treating the disorder. Even if medications cannot be avoided in the handling of GERD, dietary changes may reduce the volume of medication that is required and greatly improve symptoms.
When you read the suggestions provided in this article for foods to avoid and foods to include in an anti-GERD diet, remember that, although the recommendations are helpful for many people they may be required to be fine-tuned for your particular case of GERD. For example, wheat is not listed as a food to avoid in most anti-GERD diets, but eating more than just a very small amount of wheat gives me heartburn. On the other hand, people sometimes discover that a single food trigger for GERD does not make them uncomfortable. Different GERD patients often need different diets.
An individual who frequently suffers from the consequences of acid-reflux or GERD may want to consider a diet makeover. Many foods we eat can inflame the heartburn symptoms of the GERD condition, so avoiding these foods is essential. These include diet items such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, chocolates, and peppermints. Avoiding these foods is key because they actually promote acid reflux due to reducing the pressure applied to the lower esophageal sphincter. Other foods are those that are high in fat content, acid, or spicy-containing foods, like citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and tomato juice. Try to reduce or eliminate these completely in order to best manage your GERD condition.
There have also been some interesting natural cures and remedies in the area of the GERD diet. These are foods you can try using to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Using a detoxification diet is one way to reduce the GERD and acid reflux symptoms. Crushed garlic eaten daily may also be helpful. And one particular remedy which many people swear by for acid reflux disease symptoms is apple cider vinegar. While it is not the most tasty thing to consume for everyone, you can mix it to a consistency with water in order that it helps reduce your reflux symptoms. There are more acid reflux foods to eat and remedies described here.
Oranges and other citrus fruits like lemons, limes and grapefruits may cause heartburn in some people.
The terms acid reflux, heartburn and GERD are related to each other but do not mean precisely the same thing.
Acid reflux often causes heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest. The heartburn may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a sour taste and a burning sensation in the mouth. There may also be a cough, gruffness, and a sore throat, and the acid reflux may trigger an asthma attack in asthmatics.
Many people experience acid reflux and heartburn occasionally. However, if there is still a long-term problem with the conduct of the lower espophageal sphincter, heartburn, and acid reflux may occur regularly and be prolonged or severe, and the disorder may be diagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux disease. A GERD sufferer may experience heartburn at least two times a week, or even every day. In some people the discomfort is about constant. GERD is also referred to as acid reflux disease. It’s very important that anyone with more than very occasional heartburn visits their doctor. If you have GERD, you’ve got to know about it and treat it, with your doctor’s guidance.
A heartburn may be a sign of a heart attack. If you have a severe case of heartburn or one that seems different from normal, or if the heartburn is accompanied by unusual symptoms, you should visit a doctor immediately. There are other possible causes of heartburn too, such as a gallbladder attack.
A good way to find your ideal diet that gives you no GERD symptoms-or at any rate reduces them-is to maintain a food diary for at least 1 week. Record everything that you eat and drink for each meal, and also note if the meal causes heartburn. If it does, then you’ll need to eat or drink each part of the meal separately and at widely spaced intervals to identify which item is causing the heartburn.
An alternative scheme is to avoid all the potentially unsafe foods for GERD sufferers. Then-assuming that any of the ‘safe’ foods cause heartburn-add the ‘dangerous’ foods one at a time to determine if a food is a trigger for acid reflux. If it is not, then you will be aware that you have found one more food that you will be able to add to your diet and that you do not need to avoid. It would be a great shame to avoid healthy and flavorful foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits if this is not necessary.
Although the food testing process takes time, and the result of testing the ‘wrong’ food is an unpleasant bout of heartburn and its accompanying symptoms, the advantages of creating your own diet instead of following recommended GERD diets exactly are that you end in place with the widest possible variety of foods in your diet and that all the food that you eat is safe for you. It’s worth making the effort to test food, since GERD is generally a lifelong disorder. In addition to the discomfort that it causes, another potential problem of GERD is that repeatedly bathing the esophageal lining with acid and stomach contents may damage it.
Keeping a food dairy and performing food tests are useful for many people, but if your GERD is severe, adding a potentially dangerous food to your diet and performing food tests are not advisable. In this case it’s important to minimize the pain and acid flow as soon as possible, by medication, avoiding common food triggers or by whatever strategies your doctor suggests.
According to most researchers, the following foods have a strong probability of triggering heartburn, especially in a person with GERD. Even if GERD has not been diagnosed, avoiding these foods, or limiting their quantity, may help to prevent heartburn.
Spices are frequently listed as foods to avoid on an anti-GERD diet, but some researchers now say that although spices may irritate the stomach, they do not affect the lower esophageal sphincter and so do not contribute to GERD. Try spices in small quantities if you’d like to test them. Foods that irritate the stomach or increase acidity in the stomach may not affect the LES. However, they may make acid reflux more painful. If you want to drink tea, try it with caution. Some people say that tea has no bearing on their acid reflux or even makes it better, while others say that tea makes their acid reflux worse.
Acid reflux is often accompained by a symptom of chronic cough. Although at first glimpse, acid reflux and cough seem not related to each other, acid reflux is actually the 3rd leading cause of cough. Since cough is just a complication of acid reflux, the treatment for acid reflux cough focus mainly on curing acid reflux. Acid reflux is a phenomenon of the back flow of gastric juice. Under normal circumstances, because of the existence of esophagus-stomach sphincter in lower esophagus, the pressure there is more than in the stomach, and cardia is closed when people aren’t eating. What’s more, the digestive movement of the stomach is taken from the bottom region to the pylorus, this can prevent the back-flow of stomach contents into the mouth.
There are many foods that are usually considered to be safe for a GERD diet. The foods should be eaten raw or cooked without fat.
A GERD diet can be very healthy. Sugar, Salt, and other sweeteners are safe for most GERD sufferers, but it is not a good idea to include too much of these materials in the diet because they can cause other health problems. I find that seaweed granules-kelp or dulse-are a good substitute for salt.
In addition to avoiding foods and drinks that make symptoms worse, the following lifestyle changes may be helpful in treating GERD.
Raise the head of your bed by about six to eight inches by placing wooden blocks under the bed posts.
Although GERD is a very unpleasant condition, there are many treatments that can help prevent the symptoms. A combination of medications, dietary changes and lifestyles change will relieve the discomfort of most cases of GERD. In mild cases dietary changes may be large enough to prevent acid reflux and medications may not necessarily be needed. In severe cases surgery to help the lower esophageal sphincter function better, or to substitute for its function, may be a helpful treatment.
Excellent advice and so simple to follow. I do not suffer from this, guess it is because I eat the healthier food choices you have listed here. Voted up and pinned.
Awesome article about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. (GERD.) Gallstones were the cause of my GERD and it took a few months before my doctor realized this. I remember telling a good friend of mine that I was suffering oesophagitis (caused by GERD). Shocked (in view of the formidable word), she asked :’ How long will you still be with us? ‘ She was only pulling my leg, of course.
Most impressive hub, Alicia. Google will certainly see this as important and profound web-content.
The information here is so adequate on the subject issue. I learnt this during my hygiene class in my third year of medical school and I am happy to come across such a wonderful hub again..
Thanks for these helpful tips. Really well-researched. I do not have this problem. However, my husband does. So I’ll try to help him avoid foods that may cause GERD symptoms. Too bad, many foods on the ‘no’ list are actually his favorites.
Hi, Om. Hopefully after some experimenting your husband will discover the foods that he is sensitive to and be in a position to eat the others. I hope his GERD symptoms are resolved soon! Thanks for the visit and the comment.
You did a great job in providing a thorough explanation of GERD. I have acid reflux and even if it is trying-I feel my best when I eat as healthfully as possible and exercise. Voted up and useful.
Thank you very much, Alecia. I appreciate your comment and the votes! I hope you are able to cope with your acid reflux successfully.
I suffer from GERD and you’re right as against the $with this artical. I couldn’t eat any chocolate for 2 years I found that carob is a great replacement for when you’re really craving chocolate, and is much fitter for you. Low acid tomatoes (yellow pear) in moderation are great for when you just want some on a salad or to munch on out of the garden. I still do not drink any caffine as this continues to be a major trigger for me after 4 years. I also increas my yogurt intake as probiotics help to reconcile the flora in the gut and keeps my Gerd to a dul roar when I have had a great flair up. Hope this is helpful to other Gerd suffers.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the useful suggestions, d ingbretson! I’m sure they’ll help some GERD sufferers.
Thanks for this article. Very precise and to the point. Good information. I was diagnosed with this couple of years ago and it is a learning game for sure. In my case I put off going to doctor and now also have Barrett’s syndrome as a result of the damage. I somehow was not conscious of the carbonated beverage thing. I’m going to have to watch that from now and see if I see a difference. Thanks again for a good story! Voted up.
Thank you for the comment and the vote, PaisleeGal. I’m sorry that your GERD has produced Barrett’s syndrome. Good luck with managing the condition.
I thought it was really important that you pointed out that all gerd patients are different and are influenced by different foods. I think it is important to be aware that there is not a single one-size fits all cure.
Both my daughter and my husband have acid reflux. I have to admit I was surprised that spearmint can make it worse. I always thought it was helpful.
Hi, Angela. It is interesting to find that some GERD patients can eat foods that cause acid reflux in other patients! Thank you for the visit.
Your hubs are always well researched and offer such good advice to people. While I don’t suffer from GERD, am sure that this hub will help many people avoid offending foods…and the food diary is a very good way to start diagnosing which are the worst foods and beverages that trigger GERD. Up votes and tweeting.
Thanks for the very interesting information, RTalloni! I hope the elliptical machine exercise continues to work for you.
This is a great article. I like your advice to try dietary changes as a way to manage this unpleasant condition. I was going through a phase of having terrible acid reflux. I hate the idea of taking medication for it. I made some serious changes to my diet. I have not had a problem since. It is so important to listen to our body. Voted up and sharing.
One possible cause of GERD is low stomach acid. Hence, it can only be wise to take antiacid which would lower stomach acid even further. Other prescription drugs that have the side effect of reducing stomach acid may also be causing GERD. Prilosec, for example, reduces the secretion of hydrochloric acid.
The PH level isn’t low enough to kill bacteria without enough hydrochloric acid. With an overgrowth of enteric bacteria, they’ll ferment undigested carbohydrates causing gas, intra, and bloating-abdominal pressure. Hence causing the lower esophageal valve to open and let stomach content back up the esophagas.
Decreasing carbohydrate consumption will restrict the bacteria’s preferred food and may help with GERD.