Will a Liquid Diet Help GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a disorder in which the acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus, causing damage and inflammation to the lining. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Other symptoms include acid reflux, painful swallowing and chest pain. The symptoms of GERD can usually be treated with over-the-counter medications. Avoiding certain types of food, and eating specific diets, such as a full liquid diet, can also help to reduce symptoms.

Liquid Diets for GERD

Treating the symptoms of GERD requires lifestyle changes such as diet modification. Certain foods have been known to aggravate the symptoms of GERD. These include items such as orange juice, lemonade, grapefruit juice and tomato juice, which are all high in acid. Other foods to avoid include raw onions, chocolate, peppermint, fried foods, tomato products such as spaghetti sauce and high fat sweets such as brownies and doughnuts. Potato chips are also not recommended. Foods with caffeine such as tea and coffee and also alcoholic beverages will stimulate the stomach to produce more acid than usual, which in turn will aggravate the symptoms of GERD.

A full liquid diet is sometimes recommended to help treat the symptoms of GERD when other methods of treatment have been unsuccessful. It can help with the symptoms of GERD as it contains basically "bland" foods which do not contain excess acid. Liquid is also easier to digest than solids so it doesn't require the stomach or digestive tract to work as hard. A liquid diet also helps keep the body hydrated.

Foods found on a full liquid diet include bouillon, broth, carbonated beverages,yogurt, liquid meal replacements, jelly, butter, honey, puddings, gelatin, pureed potatoes, strained cooked cereal, milk, soft custard, vegetable juice and soups. Small amounts of strained meat in broth is also allowed. Coffee, tea and fruit juices are also part of a full liquid diet but are restricted for patients with GERD.

Drinking small amounts of milk or water instead of other liquids after meals has been shown to help with the burning sensation often caused by GERD. Full liquid diets tend to be low in iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A and thiamine, so supplements should be added if the diet is used for an extended period of time. As with any specialized diet for a medical condition, a full liquid diet must be prescribed and supervised by a physician.