Foods that Help Acid Reflux

 
September 21, 2011
 

One of the first steps to getting acid reflux under control is to assess your diet. As an ever busy society we tend to opt for meals that are quick, cheap, and full of flavor (aka: salt)–which often means takeout meals or frozen dinners. Unfortunately, these foods may be costing us more in the long run by causing recurring acid reflux and GERD. Whether you have only recently begun to suffer from acid reflux or if you have chronic acid reflux or GERD, this irritating condition can take control of your life if you don’t do something to prevent or treat the symptoms. Again, the first step in controlling acid reflux is to start with your diet, so let’s take a look at the foods that you should avoid as well as the foods that help acid reflux.

Foods to Avoid

For the most part, it’s pretty easy to remember the foods that you should avoid but it is much more difficult to practice avoiding them! Spicy foods can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to contract and release involuntarily which can lead to acid reflux. Other elements that have a similar effect include caffeine, drinks containing alcohol, pepper, and mint. Not all of these foods may affect you but it can always be worthwhile to use a food diary to keep track of what foods seem to trigger your heartburn. Other foods can cause heartburn not by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter but rather by contributing to the acid levels in the stomach, resulting in significantly elevated levels. Examples of high-acid foods include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, tomatoes, and onions. And last but not least there are the foods that cause the gastric pump to release excessive amounts of acid to help break down their complex nature. These foods are typically either greasy, high in fat, or sweet in nature, such as potato chips, french fries, hamburgers, pizza, donuts, ice cream, and cake. Avoiding these foods as often as possible, as well as consuming more of the foods that help acid reflux, will help to cut back on how often you experience heartburn.

Onions should be avoidedImage: from Flickr

Onions should be avoided

Foods that Help Acid Reflux

The foods that help acid reflux are generally healthy in nature, as one might expect! Most fruits and vegetables that help acid reflux are naturally low in acid, such as apples, peaches, berries, green vegetables, and potatoes. There are, however, a few foods that help acid reflux in a significant way and can be used to remedy an existing acid reflux attack. Bananas, for example, contain potassium which can help to stop spasms of the muscles that make up the lower esophageal sphincter. Water is also considered beneficial to bringing down a heartburn flare up because it can “water down” the stomach acid thus making it less potent. The next on our list of foods that help acid reflux is one you have probably heard about before. Have you ever been told to drink a glass of milk when you experience the first signs of acid reflux? Milk is a heartburn remedy that goes way back in time and can be quite a wonderful remedy if it is used correctly. Dairy goods are so effective at getting rid of acid reflux because they contain large doses of calcium–which is a potent antacid (that is, acid neutralizer). In fact, many over the counter antacid products contain calcium carbonate as the active ingredient, so we know that the science behind the idea is sound! Unfortunately, milk can be a double-edged sword due to its high fat content. Fat, as mentioned above, tends to stimulate the release of additional acid into the stomach to help with the breakdown process. While the symptoms from the original heartburn episode may quickly disappear (thanks to calcium), they are likely to return after a short period of time after more acid makes its way to the stomach. The key to utilizing dairy correctly as a heartburn remedy is to choose only fat free or low fat dairy products. You could even use soy-based cheeses and fat free yogurt if you wish. You can be as creative or as straight-forward as you like with the “dairy treatment.”

Foods to Boost the Healing Process

In addition to eating foods that help acid reflux, you may be interested in learning about foods that can help your body heal a little faster. If you have suffered from heartburn on a recurring basis then the chances are pretty high that your insides have something to show in the way of tissue damage. The most commonly damaged areas are the esophagus and the stomach, particularly in the form of ulcers when the stomach’s lining has been breached due to high acid levels. Tissue damage in the esophagus can lead to chronic coughing fits, throat dryness, and general irritation. People who suffer from silent GERD (that is, the less symptomatic form of GERD) may even experience voice loss as a result of damaged vocal tissues.

Honey can help acid refluxImage: from Flickr

Honey can help acid reflux

There are a few different types of foods that help acid reflux damage repair and heal. Honey is well known for its healing abilities and in the case of acid reflux it can prove to be beneficial on three levels. First, its sticky, thick texture coats the throat and prevents acid from doing any more immediate damage. Secondly, honey appears to stimulate cellular repair which can rectify existing damage. Thirdly, honey can actually kill the bacteria that contributes to the formation of stomach ulcers. Egg whites, nuts, fish, and other lean cuts of meat are great sources of protein which is needed to regenerate and replenish cells all over the body. Be sure to eat plenty of high-protein items in order to speed up the healing process. Fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, acai berries, blackberries, strawberries, prunes, raisins, and cherries, are capable of speeding up tissue repair and encourage healthy cellular formation.

Continue to Foods that Stop Acid Reflux article.