Diets for a Hiatal Hernia & Acid Reflux

By Rebecca Miller

When you have a hiatal hernia and acid reflex, your diet can help make the condition more bearable. One thing to keep in mind is that recommended foods to avoid and recommended foods to consume are not always universal. Personal experience will soon tell you what is tolerable and what is not. Keeping a food journal or log is a good way to keep track of what foods exacerbate your heartburn.

Hiatal Hernia and Acid Reflux

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes or sticks out into the chest through the diaphragm, this can cause acid reflux. You can treat the symptoms but the hernia will never go away unless surgery is performed. Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) occurs when the muscles at the opening of the esophagus do not close correctly causing digestive juices to rise into the esophagus often causing pain and discomfort. Again you can treat the condition with medication, but it will not go away without surgical interference and that is only for severe cases. They are two separate conditions with a common symptom--heartburn; they also share the same treatments.

Diet Options

Since there is no cure for either a hiatal hernia or acid reflux, many people look to diet changes in order to control the pain and discomfort. Hot and spicy food is going to make heartburn more painful. Some sufferers also can get painful heartburn from eating bread and water. Every individual is going to have her own trigger foods that will result in acid backing up and being more painful. There are common trigger foods including onions, fried fatty foods, cola, mints, tomato products, spicy foods, chocolate, citrus foods and juices, coffee and alcohol. Some of these foods may be tolerable for some people and not for others, keep track of what causes your symptoms and avoid those foods.

There is no scientific evidence that any foods actually help a hiatal hernia or acid reflux. No food that is known to reduce stomach acid, but a high fiber diet is recommended. If you can get used to drinking warm water it may help, if you can drink hot water that is even better. Drink warm water with meals, or at least room temperature water, it may also help to drink warm water before bed time. Try increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and eliminate as much processed food as possible.

Diet Tips

Chewing gum and sucking on hard candies actually helps because they increase your saliva output, saliva is a natural barrier for stomach acid. Do not use any gum or candy that is mint flavored. Eat smaller portions throughout the day instead of large meals so that your stomach is not as full and won't push the food back up. After meals, do not lie down, also do not do any physical activity that involves excessive movement or bending for at least two hours after eating. Being overweight will increase your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about getting your weight under control. This alone can make a big difference in the frequency and severity of heartburn.

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