What foods are good for reflux, and which foods make things worse?
If you’ve got Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease or GORD (called Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease or GERD in the US and Canada) then you’ve probably tried eliminating various trigger foods already.
If you’re frequently experiencing the burning pain and discomfort that acid can cause it’s important to get it checked out, because the acid can damage the oesophagus and lead to further problems. A doctor can tell you if you need medication to reduce the acid.
PPR (Proton Pump Inhibitors) and Reflux
Do you still get a burning sensation even on medication?
Persistence of reflux symptoms occurs in 25% to 42% of patients who use a PPI once-daily and in 10% to 20% who use PPI twice-daily. This could be because:
- you’re not taking it properly, or
- the dose might not yet be right for you, or
- you could still be eating trigger foods or eating in a way that causes reflux
- your stomach isn’t emptying quick enough – slow motility
Check with a pharmacist or doctor if you’re not getting relief from the pain, and read on for how your diet can support reflux symptoms.
Foods for acid reflux – GERD / GORD
When you swallow your food it travels down the oesophagus into the stomach. There is a band of muscle keeping the food there, to stop it coming back up, called the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES). There are different ways your food affects the chance of reflux:
- Some foods can reduce the tone of the LES,
- certain foods cause irritation to the oesophagus,
- and some things cause the sphincter to temporarily relax if the stomach is overfull or needs to release gas.
Foods that relax the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter
You may find more heartburn symptoms when you eat the following foods:
- high fat foods
- high carbohydrate meals
Which foods could irritate the oesophagus?
Some things we eat simply irritate the mucus lining of the digestive tract, especially if it’s already sore:
- Acidic foods and drinks (citrus, tomatoes)
- Spicy foods
When stomach gas has to come out, the valve temporarily opens
If you eat too much, or too quickly, or get a lot of air into your tummy the sphincter may loosen for a short while to let gas back up.
- carbonated (fizzy) drinks
- large meals
- high calorie meals (because this can take a while to be digested)
- You may swallow more air if you chew gum, talk whilst eating or gulp down water
The worst foods for acid reflux
Big meals high in fats and carbohydrates may trigger your symptoms. Everyone will have their own triggers, so the best thing to do is eliminate foods one at a time to see what works for you.
What helps acid reflux go away
- Addressing your gut bacteria – if you have SIBO this could be adding to your reflux symptoms. One study showed two thirds of people with unresolved reflux were more likely to have intestinal dysbiosis, measured with a SIBO breath test.
- Eating habits – slowing down to eat, chewing your food well and avoiding gulping down drinks
- Avoiding chewing gum
- Managing stress – the gut brain connection is really vital to managing GERD.
- Eating a diet high in fibre, vegetables and fruits
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, SIBO, reflux and other gut health issues.
I can help you to:
- understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
- eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
- develop healthy, sustainable habits for life
“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"
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