Nutrition Articles

How to Manage GERD and Acid Reflux with Nutrition

What is GERD?

In normal digestion, swallowed food travels down the esophagus, enters the stomach. Pepsin (digestive enzyme) is then produced to digest food, and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) acts as a barrier to prevent this stomach acid from traveling back up the esophagus.  When the LES is impaired, weakened, or otherwise overwhelmed, these gastric juices can travel back up the esophagus and cause a burning sensation known as heartburn.

Reducing gastric acidity and limiting foods that may lower LES pressure can help with symptom management.

What foods to Avoid

GERD and acid reflux can be a frustrating chronic condition to deal with. Over the counter remedies and treatments tend to help with symptom management, but don’t usually treat the underlying cause. The role of diet and nutrition plays a vital part in managing and reducing GERD symptoms, and different foods may be irritating for certain individuals.  While trigger foods may look differently based on the individual, there are many common foods that aggravate symptoms. These include:

  • Caffeinated beverages
  • High fat, greasy foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Pepper and spicy foods
  • Onions and garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate

These foods can irritate symptoms by slowing digestion, aggravating the LES, and increasing gastric acidity which can further aggravate the esophageal lining. An elimination diet is essential in determining what and how much of each of these foods you can tolerate. Talking with a doctor and/or dietitian about starting an elimination diet can ensure you are finding the right balance between staying away from trigger foods while still ensuring proper nutrition.



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