Barrett’s Esophagus is normally diagnosed in people with long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, as it is commonly known. Stomach acid regurgitates into the lower esophagus, causing irritation. Over time, this irritation begins to erode the lining of the esophagus, causing Barrett’s Esophagus. Although GERD is quite common, only a small percentage of those with it will develop Barrett’s Esophagus. Those diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.
The Importance of Diet
Once erosion takes place and the healthy cells of the esophagus lining are damaged, they can’t be repaired. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Barrett’s Esophagus, only treatments to stop the progression. Following a proper diet will help slow or stop any additional damage. Removing foods from your diet that cause irritation is imperative.
Fatty Foods and Meat Products
High-fat or greasy foods are known to irritate gastrointestinal conditions such as GERD or Barrett’s Esophagus. These foods are hard to digest and therefore take longer to pass through the intestinal tract. Limit fast-food items, fatty red meat and foods that are deep-fried. Meats included in your diet should be lean and low-fat such as chicken, fish or turkey.
What you drink also can affect the symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus. Certain beverages should be avoided such as alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee and certain flavored teas, especially those containing mint. Beverages containing carbonation and caffeine cause irritation to the lining of the esophagus. Dairy products can be added to your diet as long as they are low-fat or fat-free. High-fat versions such as whole milk or chocolate milk should be avoided.
Fruits and Vegetables
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for everyone’s well-being. This is true as well for those who suffer from Barrett’s esophagus. Most vegetables are acceptable for those following a strict diet unless they are deep-fried or cooked in oils. Vegetables eaten raw or steamed are the best. Selecting the right fruits can be a little more difficult. Stay away from citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, along with pineapple. Instead, look for fruits high in antioxidants such as blueberries, melons and apples.