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Acid reflux is a condition that develops when the lower esophageal sphincter does not work properly and allows food and acid from the stomach back into the esophagus 12. The condition is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease. The most common symptoms are heartburn, difficulty swallowing and chest pain. Several medical treatments--including prescription drugs and medical procedures--are available to treat acid reflux, but dietary changes can also help control symptoms 12.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Foods to Eat
People with acid reflux can eat most foods, so it's easy to follow a diet that falls in line with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations 12. Foods from each group--fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy and breads and grains--can all be eaten. Certain foods may even ease the symptoms of acid reflux 12. For example, low-fat dairy products such as milk or yogurt can help when reflux strikes. Just be sure to avoid whole milk and full-fat dairy products. And almost all meats, vegetables and grains can be eaten without any trouble.
- People with acid reflux can eat most foods, so it's easy to follow a diet that falls in line with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations 1.
Foods to Avoid
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Certain foods are triggers for acid reflux and can worsen symptoms 12. Several types of beverages can also aggravate symptoms, including alcoholic, caffeinated and carbonated drinks and tea. These, too, should be avoided. You may notice that your symptoms worsen after you eat certain foods. When your symptoms flare, think about what you recently ate to see if there are other trigger foods that you need to avoid.
- Certain foods are triggers for acid reflux and can worsen symptoms 1.
- You may notice that your symptoms worsen after you eat certain foods.
Tips for Eating
Sometimes people with acid reflux find that when and how they eat affects them more than what they eat 12. For example, eating large meals can cause heartburn, because the stomach becomes distended. You may have fewer symptoms if you eat small meals throughout the day. Also, try not to eat for at least a few hours before lying down or going to bed, because that can make reflux worse. If you have trouble with reflux when lying down, prop yourself up with pillows. Finally, people with reflux should avoid smoking, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy, all of which can make symptoms worse.
- Sometimes people with acid reflux find that when and how they eat affects them more than what they eat 1.
- Finally, people with reflux should avoid smoking, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy, all of which can make symptoms worse.
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- Acid reflux overview
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- Acid reflux (GER and GERD) in adults. (n.d.). niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults
- Cleveland Clinic. (2018). Lifestyle Guidelines for the Treatment of GERD. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15530-lifestyle-guidelines-for-the-treatment-of-gerd
- Diet changes for GERD. (2017). aboutgerd.org/diet-lifestyle-changes/diet-changes-for-gerd.html
- Kahrilas P, et al. (2017). Emerging dilemmas in the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.11918.1
- Kubo A, et al. (2009). Effects of dietary fiber, fats, and meat intakes on the risk of Barrett’s esophagus. DOI: 10.1080/01635580902846585
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Acid Reflux (GER & GERD) in Adults.
- Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Gastroesophageal Reflux.
Anna Aronson began working as a journalist in 2000 and spent six years at suburban Chicago newspapers before pursuing freelance work. She enjoys writing about health care topics, in particular obstetrics, pediatrics and nutrition. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and is now studying for a Master of Science in medicine degree to become a physician's assistant.