What is acid reflux?

Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly referred to as heartburn or acid reflux, is a condition in which the stomach’s acid regurgitates back into the esophagus and mouth.

This can be really irritating and annoying, leading to frequent discomfort and, sometimes, tissue damage.


Acid reflux may occur in healthy individuals without necessarily causing symptoms or injury. It is however a problem if it becomes severe and leads to complications.

What to do?

To avoid reaching this state, there are a number of diet and lifestyle changes which you can easily incorporate.

1.  Eat only small meals, and drink fluids between meals: this is to avoid over-distention of the stomach, as this can exert pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter.

2. Avoid eating bedtime snacks or lying down after meals: should be consumed at least two to three hours before sleeping.

3. Reduce reflux during sleep: by elevating the head of the bed on 6-inch blocks or prop pillows under the head and upper chest.

4. Limit foods that weaken lower esophageal sphincter pressure or increase gastric acid secretion, these include: chocolate, fatty foods, spearmint and peppermint, coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated), and tea.

5. Cigarettes and alcohol: both relax the lower esophageal sphincter and are to be avoided.

6. Bending over and wearing tight clothes: both increase stomach pressure and increase risk of reflux.

7. Obesity: can increase abdominal pressure and reflux, thus weight loss is advisable.

8. Foods that may irritate the esophagus: during periods of esophagitis, avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, pepper, spicy foods, carbonated beverages and very hot or very cold foods (depending on your individual tolerances).

9. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): avoid using drugs such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, which can damage the esophageal mucosa.

10. Avoid iron supplements at night.

Now, I’ve given you a long list of lifestyle changes and foods to avoid, as these are the things which can aggravate your condition, and merely avoiding them can make you feel so much better.

So how about I give you a longer list of foods to include?

Here are some of the best foods for acid reflux:

acid reflux foods_2
Unlike many of the acidic fruits, bananas are very mild and comforting to the stomach. They are also full of nutrients.

Milk and other dairy
These coat the throat and stomach and sooth irritation.

Leafy greens
All leafy greens are mild. Some to include are broccoli, kale, lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, and any more you can think of – the darker the better!

These also are very mild and soothing to the stomach. Include all types of melons and their seeds, watermelons and cantaloupes.

Are a very gentle, neutral food, which help to decrease inflammation. You can add oats as oatmeal or muesli to your diet.

Is a low-acid food, just avoid frying it. It is a great source of protein.

White rice, brown rice, wild rice, in fact all types of rice are very soothing.

Although this is high in fat, it’s healthy fat, which is mild on your stomach.

Licorice root
It helps to prevent acid reflux and also eases its’ symptoms if it occurs. No candy here, just the plant!

Is an herb with medicinal properties, and can be really relaxing to the body.

Fennel is not only great for acid reflux, it’s great for the whole digestive tract, decreasing gas, bloating, and colic.

Now, these are general guidelines which may be useful. However, not all people are the same. You’re going to have to keep making adjustments to your diet and see how they affect you, until you reach a state of comfort and wellbeing.

For some people, only a few adjustments may be enough to make them feel better, other people will need more strict adherence to the above suggestions.

See what works for you!

Connect with Expert Dr. Hala Youssef

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