Few things are better than a great meal – but if you're struggling with digestive issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you'll need to pick the best acid reflux diet to enjoy a meal, but help your digestive symptoms at the same time. Changing what you eat can reduce the frequency of your symptoms, making it easier to enjoy food and digest it properly and get the nutrition that helps you thrive.
The good news is that solutions like medication or surgery aren't the only options for GERD symptoms like acid reflux. Whether you're trying to prevent new flare-ups or manage the symptoms you currently face, making healthy eating changes can be of significant benefit.
Why Do Diet and Acid Reflux Go Hand in Hand?
Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. Even though these incidents don't always last very long, they can cause other symptoms, such as heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest.
GERD is a more severe form of acid reflux. The significant distinction is that people with GERD experience reflux more often – usually manifesting as heartburn episodes that occur twice a week or more. Some GERD cases are also associated with symptoms like:
- Regurgitating foods or sour liquids
- Burping or belching
- Sore throat and hoarseness
- Coughing and wheezing
- Trouble swallowing
- Chest pain
GERD symptoms may worsen at night when you're lying down, and they can negatively impact your sleep quality. Although many live with this condition, it can be a risk factor for other more severe problems, such as ulcers and esophageal cancer.
Certain foods and beverages can trigger or worsen symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. For instance, consuming spicy or fatty foods, coffee, chocolate, peppermint, and alcohol may prompt flare-ups. In other words, working toward better eating habits is usually your best bet for relief, and gastroenterologists say it's the first line of therapy.
The Top 10 Foods for Acid Reflux Relief
The Top 6 Foods for Acid Reflux Relief
Fortunately, you can work less to alleviate your gut health issues. Even if it feels like a sacrifice to give up processed snacks and fast food, you can make dietary choices to help control your reflux and still enjoy eating.
1. High-Fiber Foods
Why does fiber matter? Eating foods like oatmeal, brown rice, carrots, beets, and green vegetables makes you feel fuller – and you'll be less likely to suffer from overeating-induced heartburn.
- High-fiber diets help you avoid constipation
- There are a lot of ways to incorporate fiber into your diet without being too restrictive
- You don't have to put much thought into this one – sticking to whole plant foods makes for an easy, healthy change
- If you take fiber as a supplement, like psyllium or methylcellulose, you may experience bloating or gas until you get used to it.
- Increasing your fiber intake may not be advisable if you have a history of Crohn's disease or other medical issues, so talk to your doctor or nutritionist first.
Bottom Line: Fiber is generally healthy all around, and you may find it easier to get the reflux benefits if you consume it as part of whole foods.
2. High Water-Content Foods
Increasing your water intake can dilute your stomach acid, minimizing the bothersome effects if it comes back up. Foods like watermelon, celery, cucumber, lettuce, and soup broth are excellent at delivering more liquid to your system in a healthy way.
- High-water-content foods are affordable and healthy
- There are plenty of options to choose from, making it easier to sustain the changes
- Some high-water-content foods aren't particularly filling, possibly raising the odds you'll overeat
Bottom Line: Watery foods make stomach acid less harmful, but they won't necessarily outweigh other poor dietary choices – so go for balance.
Fresh ginger is known for its relieving impacts. Commonly used to remedy upset stomachs, it may help reduce GI irritation and inflammation that could contribute to acid reflux symptoms.
- Ginger's easy to consume – either chew a piece of the root or steep it to make tea
- Overconsuming ginger can heighten your odds of heartburn, so limit yourself to no more than four grams per 24-hour period.
- If you have blood pressure issues or bleeding disorders, you may want to ask your caregiver whether you should avoid ginger because of its blood-thinning effects.
Bottom Line: Ginger is a classic stomach-soothing remedy, but there's such a thing as too much.
Oatmeal is more than just a nutritional breakfast powerhouse and an excellent cookie ingredient. It can also soak up some of that acid in your stomach, making it a good option for dealing with ongoing symptoms after they strike. Oatmeal's high fiber content also makes it filling, helping you regulate how much you eat.
- Oatmeal is a cheap, versatile food staple that's easy to prepare and flavor to your liking
- It has lots of fiber and traces of nutrients
- Eating lots of plain oatmeal isn't exactly the most exciting way to spend your day, so try adding fruit or nuts
- Adding oatmeal to your diet may make you feel bloated or gassy
Bottom Line: Oatmeal may be an adequate go-to food for dealing with acid reflux and GERD symptoms.
5. Non-Citrus Fruits
When eating fruits to help with GERD or other reflux conditions, it's best to avoid choices with lots of acids – like citrus, pineapples, or tomatoes. Instead, go for bananas, melons, and apples to ensure you get fiber and water without making your stomach's contents more acidic.
- There are a lot of different low-acid fruits to choose from
- Fruits are a healthier snack than heartburn-aggravating alternatives like chips
- Foods that raise your blood sugar may contribute to gastroparesis, a condition characterized by slow digestion – Work with a dietitian to pick palatable, easily digested fruits with an appropriate glycemic index for your condition.
Bottom Line: Fruits are an integral component of GERD-friendly eating, but choose yours carefully if you have blood sugar issues.
6. Root Vegetables
Root vegetables have ample fiber and minerals that let you get your nutrition without overeating. Choose healthy options like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beetroots to expand your sources of healthy complex carbs.
- Root vegetables come in a massive range of varieties you can easily integrate into existing meals – no need for a total menu overhaul.
- Excellent source of fiber and low glycemic index carbs
- Certain root vegetables, like onions and garlic, tend to exacerbate acid reflux, and they can be hard to avoid since they're so widely used.
Bottom Line: Add a mix of healthy root vegetables to your diet to feel fuller after eating.
How Top Nutrition Coaching Can Help
Problems like acid reflux and GERD are more complicated than they seem. These conditions are often the result of many combined factors, even though specific food choices can trigger individual episodes. Getting a handle on your symptoms may be challenging, especially if you're not looking at the bigger picture.
Formulating a holistic eating game plan that considers everything can make it easier to manage your digestive issues and avoid having to switch to strict habits. With Top Nutrition Coaching, you can find a Registered Dietitian who goes beyond simply creating menus or giving advice. You'll get a partner to help you transform your eating patterns and mindset to manage your symptoms effectively. Meet your new gut health dietitian today.
Acid reflux can take the pleasure out of eating, impacting your quality of life. Although good habits like not lying down right after eating can help make this less problematic, choosing your food wisely is just as important.
Depending on your overall habits and typical gut acidity levels, you may benefit more from specific changes than others. Talking to a nutritionist or Registered Dietitian is an excellent start to getting lasting release from gastrointestinal problems like reflux – and who knows, you might even discover a new favorite food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which foods aggravate acid reflux?
Heartburn-triggering foods include alcohol, spicy foods, peppermint, tomatoes, caffeinated drinks, citrus, and chocolate.
Can I eat pasta if I have acid reflux symptoms?
Pasta isn't a problem in and of itself, but the tomato sauce most people usually eat it with can trigger reflux symptoms. Some practical alternatives may include switching to a sauce recipe with a higher water content or cutting it out altogether in favor of other options like pesto.
Can drinking water help acid reflux?
Drinking water after a meal may help dilute pockets of acid below the esophagus. This can make your GERD symptoms feel less severe.
Is there a quick way to neutralize stomach acid?
Drinking 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in 4 ounces of warm water can help neutralize stomach acid fast – but be careful to avoid doing this more than once every two hours. Taking overly large amounts can contribute to side effects like irritability, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.