Gastric reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to the intrusion of some of the acidic contents of the stomach into the esophagus and the burning sensation that is felt from the contact of stomach acid with the esophagus.
Certain lifestyle and eating habits can accentuate the problem and increase the intensity of the symptoms. Avoiding certain foods can relieve heartburn. Do not wait to see your doctor if the changes you make to your diet and lifestyle do not improve your symptoms.
Here are some strategies that can help you.
High fat meals reduce the tension of the esophageal sphincter. Normally, this sphincter allows food to enter the stomach, and prevents it from coming back out. If the sphincter is loosened, food may move up into the esophagus, causing burns. It is important not to cut all fat from one’s diet, but it is recommended to limit it to a maximum of 45g of fat per day.
Unlike fats, proteins increase sphincter pressure. Increased pressure promotes the closure of the esophageal sphincter. Proteins also promote the secretion of gastrin, a hormone that promotes sphincter tension.
Lean protein sources include: lean meat, poultry and fish, as well as skimmed (or partly skimmed) milk and milk products. Legumes and tofu are good choices as well.
At mealtime, we suggest the proportions of the healthy plate are prioritized.
This means, that one half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, about a quarter with grain products (starchy foods) and the remaining quarter with a lean source of protein.
For snacks, try to include more protein. Here are some possible combinations:
In order to prevent the irritation of the lining of the esophagus, it is advisable to avoid foods that cause epigastric burns such as:
Irritating foods may vary from person to person. To help identify them for yourself, just eat a variety of foods and note which ones are causing you symptoms.
When the discomfort is gone, try to reintegrate these foods in small amounts, with a meal, to see if they still cause symptoms.