Acid Reflux? Food to Include & Avoid in your Diet

Acid reflux occurs when there is backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube carrying food from the throat to the stomach. The lower esophagus has a specialized muscle also known as a sphincter that prevents the backflow of food from stomach into the esophagus, under normal conditions. It is when this muscle weakens; it causes the acid from the stomach to splash back into the esophagus leading to symptoms like heart burn, discomfort in the chest and sometimes shortness of breath too. This is generally known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

There are a number of factors that cause GERD, including foods. Here is a list of all the foods you need to avoid and can take in case GERD.

Food Group Recommended
Vegetables All vegetables except tomato
Milk and other dairy products Skim milk, low-fat milk, low fat yogurt, fat-free yogurt
Fruits Apples, berries, watermelon, muskmelon, honey melon, banana, peach, pear, sitaphal, chikoo
Grains & cereals Whole grain, low fat versions
Non vegetarian foods Lean cuts of mutton, chicken or fish, eggs.
Fat & oils Restricted amounts
Sugar/ sweets and desserts Any item made with ≤3 gm. fat per serving
Beverages De-caf coffee, herbal/ green tea, non-citrus  juices
Others Minimal or no fat containing soups and stews.

What to look out for?

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It is very important to look out for the items that trigger a heart burn or acidic reflux. It can either be due to certain habits, certain foods or due to change in lifestyles. Here are some of the things that you may need to keep a track of:

  • What foods you are eating
  • What are the symptoms that you are experiencing
  • What time do you eat your meals at

This will enable you to keep a tab on any particular food that you eat or particular time changes that you need to make and you can eliminate or change it accordingly.

Among foods, the reason you need to avoid fatty foods or greasy foods is that more fat will cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax thus giving more room for acidic reflux. So, keep a tight control on the total fat intake per day and follow the given list to avoid:

  • Fried chips/ crisps
  • Full fat dairy products- cheese, butter, whole milk, etc.
  • Fatty meat portions
  • Deep fried food
  • High fat desserts like cheesecakes
  • Creamy sauces/ soups

Other than that here is a list of limited or restricted foods that you can take or avoid depending on the severity of the condition:

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  • Citrus fruits- in some cases these acidic fruits like lime, lemon, oranges, pineapple, tomato, etc can elevate the condition. Please restrict or eliminate depending on the severity of your condition.
  • Chocolate- contains methylxanthine which relaxes the LES thereby increasing the chances of a reflux.
  • Spicy, tangy food- Foods with very high amount of garlic or onion can cause discomfort in some more than others.
  • Caffeine and mint- both have been known to trigger acidic reflux.

Takeaway note:

People with GERD are able to manage the condition with lifestyle changes and in some cases, with the help of medicines. With proper steps and medical assistance, GERD can be managed well to improve the symptoms.

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