From ditching the junk food to cutting back on alcohol, and even just chewing your food better, there is a lot you can do!
Reflux is a common complaint for many Americans. But luckily, dietary changes are one of the most important elements to help relieve symptoms – from ditching the junk food to cutting back on alcohol, and even just chewing your food better, there is a lot you can do!
Reflux is most often recognized by its symptom of "heartburn" which reportedly affects 1 out of every 10 adults in the US on a daily basis. Do keep in mind that stomach acid is absolutely crucial for absorbing vitamins and minerals and helping our bodies get the most from our food.
Certain foods can trigger reflux, either by stimulating acid production or by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which usually stays tight to keep acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus. Foods that can relax the LES include fried foods, caffeinated beverages, mayonnaise, creamy sauces, whole-milk dairy products and our personal allergens. Foods that may stimulate acid production include: coffee, chocolate, fried foods, dairy, tomato-based products, carbonated beverages, raw onion, mint, and citrus fruits/beverages. Fermented beverages, like wine and beer, also can increase the production of stomach acid. Food triggers vary greatly person to person.
What is the ideal diet to keep reflux at bay? Experts recommend drinking plenty of water (away from meals), and choosing lean meats, whole grains, and simple vegetables and starches such as potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and green beans. Low-acidic fruits such as apples and bananas are good choices, as well as easy-to-digest dairy products such as goat, feta and cottage cheese. Of course if you personally have issues digesting any of the foods mentioned above, they should be avoided.
Additional lifestyle changes are helpful:
Keeping a food journal can help determine which foods affect you most. You can track foods that spark acid reflux, and use your journal notes to reintroduce foods that have been cut from the diet to see if they were in fact acid reflux triggers.
It is also important to keep in mind that acid production actually decreases as we age. The acid reflux you may be feeling is actually an indication that you do not have enough stomach acid to trigger the stomach contents to empty, and thus the food sits, ferments, and gas causes reflux up the esophagus. This is something to discuss with your physician or healthcare practitioner.