Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach contents move up into the food pipe (esophagus), and we all have experienced it seldom times, but if you experience it atleast twice a week then you may be suffering from GERD. One may feel an uncomfortable burning in their chest upto their neck due to the reflux which is known as heartburn. Acid reflux happens when your lower esophageal sphincter (a circular band of muscles) doesn’t close properly, causing digestive juices and other contents from your stomach to rise up into your esophagus. Diet and dietary habits such as having too much fried and spicy foods or laying down right after having a large meal are the main causes of GERD but other risk factors may include pregnancy, obesity and hiatal hernia (small part of stomach bulges through a hole in diaphragm). Dietary triggers may be spicy foods, fat-rich foods, onion, garlic, tomato, citrus fruits, mint, chocolates, coffee, tea, soda and alcohol.

Causes of GRED:

  1. Heartburn.

  2. Difficulty in swallowing.

  3. Feeling a lump in your throat.

  4. Chronic cough.

Complications of GERD:

  1. Esophageal stricture: The esophagus narrows or tightens.

  2. Esophagitis: inflammation of the esophagus.

  3. Barrett’s esophagus: Damage from acid can cause changes in the tissue lining the lower esophagus.

  4. Asthma: chronic cough, or other breathing problems, which may develop if you breath stomach acid into your lungs.

  5. Dental problems: tooth enamel erosion and gum disease.

Diet and lifestyle recommendations:

Foods to have:

Vegetables: Vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar, and they help reduce stomach acid. Good options include green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumbers.

Whole grains: A diet high in fiber has been linked with a lower risk of acid reflux. Other fiber options include whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice.

Non-citrus fruits: Non-citrus fruits, including melons, bananas, apples, and pears, are less likely to trigger reflux symptoms than acidic fruits.

Lean meats and seafood: Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood, are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Try them grilled, broiled, baked, or poached.

Healthy fats: Sources of healthy fats include avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replace them with these healthier unsaturated fats.

Lifestyle changes:

The fist obvious change is to avoid any dietary triggers which cause you to experience acid reflux, they could be one of those listed above or something that is specific for you. Lifestyle changes that can alleviate the problems are:

  1. Losing weight.

  2. Limiting or eliminating smoking and drinking.

  3. Having smaller meals.

  4. Avoiding lying down directly after having a meal.

  5. Practice relaxation techniques.

  6. Chewing gum after meals.

  7. Avoid wearing tight clothes.

  8. Sleeping on your back rather than your belly.

  9. Eating slowly.

  10. Walking after having a meal.

Superfoods for GERD:

  1. Ginger: Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. You can add grated or sliced ginger root to recipes or smoothies or drink ginger tea to ease symptoms.

  2. Turmeric: Multiple studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capabilities of turmeric can be beneficial in treating GERD.

  3. Chamomile: Can help relax the esophageal muscles and can be used as a substitute for tea or coffee.

  4. Honey: Manuka honey is specially known for its digestive benefits but you can use any honey as a sugar substitute. Its healing properties have been shown to alleviate the symptoms.

  5. Banana: They have low pH and can help with preventing regurgitations.

References and further reading:

Barron RP, Carmichael RP, Marcon MA, Sàndor GK. Dental erosion in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Journal (Canadian Dental Association). 2003 Feb;69(2):84-89.

Dore, M., Maragkoudakis, E., Fraley, K., Pedroni, A., Tadeu, V., Realdi, G., Graham, D., Delitala, G. and Malaty, H., 2007. Diet, Lifestyle and Gender in Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 53(8), pp.2027-2032.

Madell, R., 2020. 7 Foods To Add To Your Diet For Acid Reflux. [online] Healthline. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 October 2020].

Mayo Clinic. 2018. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Symptoms And Causes. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 October 2020].

McDermott, A., 2020. Can You Use Turmeric To Treat Acid Reflux?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 October 2020].

Morozov S, Isakov V, Konovalova M. Fiber-enriched diet helps to control symptoms and improves esophageal motility in patients with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2018;24(21):2291-2299. doi:10.3748/wjg.v24.i21.2291

Weatherspoon, D., 2019. How To Tell When Acid Reflux Is More Than A Mild Case Of Heartburn. [online] Healthline. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 October 2020].

Whitbread, D., 2020. 19 Foods Which Alleviate And Prevent Acid Reflux (GERD). [online] myfooddata. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 October 2020].