5 Diet Tips to Avoid Acid Reflux
According to statistics, up to 25% of people suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The symptoms can be varied, but in most cases, this means heartburn.
GERD is a very uncomfortable health problem, but many of its risk factors can be avoided. This means that you can adapt your lifestyle habits to reduce the frequency and/or severity of your acid reflux.
The principal risk factors are smoking, alcohol intake, obesity and excess weight, certain medication, age and genetics. Other than age and genetics, all other factors can be changed. That’s good news!
What’s more, it’s also possible to adapt your diet to possibly reduce heartburn. Here are my 5 dietary tips to avoid, or at least reduce, acid reflux and heartburn.
1. Avoid/Reduce Soft and Alcoholic Drinks
Carbonated drinks (sparkling water, soft drinks, pop/soda, etc.) tend to increase the amount of air in the digestive system. This can increase the risk of acid reflux.
Drinking alcohol also seems to increase heartburn. Therefore, if you drink alcohol, you should do so in small quantities and with meals rather than on an empty stomach.
2. Moderate Your Fat Intake
Heavy meals take longer to digest and can therefore create more acid reflux and symptoms. The main culprits are fast food, fried foods, large quantities of rich sauces, etc. I’m not advocating you remove all fats from your diet. Fats are absolutely necessary to the body’s proper functioning! But it’s important to make better choices.
My advice: cook at home! This way, you’ll be better able to control the amount of fat on your plate.
|GERD in Pregnant Women
It’s relatively common for pregnant women to suffer from reflux and/or heartburn during pregnancy. This is because as the baby grows, it exerts a pressure on the stomach and sphincter (the sphincter is the muscle that enables food to pass into the stomach and usually stops it coming back up). Hormones secreted during pregnancy might also be partly responsible for the increase in reflux during the third trimester.To control symptoms, lifestyle changes (stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating well) are usually efficient, even for pregnant women. You can also consider taking anti-acids. You should always check with your pharmacist before taking a new medication, even over the counter, especially during pregnancy.
3. Avoid Foods That Cause Reflux
Trigger foods will differ from one person to the next… that being said, here is a list of the principle irritants:
- Acidic foods:
- Citrus fruits and juices (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, etc.)
- Spicy food/strong spices (pepper, Cayenne, chili)
4. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Coffee seems to be an irritant for most people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux. This is probably due to its caffeine content.
Be careful, caffeine isn’t just present in coffee… you’ll also find it in tea, chocolate, fizzy drinks and energy drinks. All these foods should be consumed in moderation if you are sensitive to it.
5. Eat Smaller Meals
To promote good digestion, it’s advisable to eat smaller meals, adding snacks if necessary. This means you’ll have a smaller volume of food in your stomach at any given moment, which should help reduce reflux.
What’s more, not eating anything 3 to 4 hours before going to bed can also be effective. That’s because laying down can trigger reflux if your stomach is still full.
The above tips aren’t all scientifically backed up. However, it has been determined that there is no risk in trying them. And because everyone is different, all these tips may not be effective for everyone. The best is to give them a try and see what works for you!
- Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF). (2017). Living with GERD.
- Toward Optimized Practice. (janvier 2009). Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Adults – Clinical Practice Guideline.
- PENnutrition. (juin 2016). Gastrointestinal System – Gastroesophageal/Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD/GORD).