Acid reflux? What you can eat

Gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD is a condition when the liquid or solid contents of the stomach regurgitates and goes backward into the esophagus. Esophagus is the mouth to stomach portion of our alimentary canal. The acid reflux can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn.

This reflux is caused when the ring of muscles known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) which acts as a valve to help prevent food and liquids in the stomach to return into the esophagus does not close properly. Anything that lowers the LES pressure causes reflux into the esophagus.

If you experience frequent heartburn, (twice or thrice a week) chest pain, nausea, or can taste food at the back of your mouth, then possibly you have GERD and a visit to your physician is called for.

What causes GERD?
Abdominal obesity
Hiatus hernia
Certain medications

Foods to avoid
Coffee (regular and decaffeinated)
Fried or fatty foods, rich desserts, croissants, doughnuts, high fat meat cuts, nuts, pizza and peanut butter
Black pepper and Red chili powder (spicy foods in general)
Beverages containing chocolate or caffeine including sodas that contain caffeine
Spearmint and peppermint
Avoid citrus fruits and tomato or tomato products like sauces, paste, and vinegar (in salads) especially on an empty stomach
Avoid any other food that you personally feel causes heartburn. Everyone has their specific triggers. Understand them. Make a note of what you ate when you experience a heartburn or acid reflux and if the same food is causing your symptoms repeatedly, then there is a good reason to avoid that food.
Use onions and garlic sparingly

Lifestyle changes
1. If you are a smoker, then stop smoking.
2. Excessive alcohol intake has been indicated in some researches so it is perhaps best to avoid drinking if you suffer from GERD.
3. Eat small frequent meals so that you do not overeat at any meal. No matter what kind of food, if you over fill your stomach you are liable to experience a reflux.
4. Chew your food well. Gulping down your food leads to indigestion and precipitates reflux symptoms.
5. Avoid bending over or lying down immediately after eating.
6. Sit upright while eating and for 1 to 2 hours afterward.
7. Do not lie down for 3 hours after the evening meal.
8. If you are overweight then lose weight.
9. Avoid tight fitting clothes especially around the waist.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at

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