Healthy Eating for GERD & Hiatal Hernia

Updated February 21, 2017

Gastro-oseophageal reflux disease is caused by stomach acid flowing into your oesophagus, and causes heartburn, regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. A hiatus hernia causes similar problems, as the protrusion from the stomach through the oesophagus causes acid and food to back up into your oesophagus and results in heartburn. When the lower esophageal sphincter is relaxed or is compromised, the acid travels to the oesophagus and causes health problems. To reduce these symptoms it is important to reduce foods that produce acid while consuming GERD-friendly foods.


Although fruits are rich sources of vitamins, some also cause acid production in your stomach. Highly acidic fruit such as oranges, pineapples, blueberries, cherries, lemons and limes are just a few fruits that cause excess acid production during digestion. According to Dr. Jonathan Wright and Lane Lenard, Ph.D., authors of the 2001 book "Why Stomach Acid is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Ingestion, Reflux and GERD," you can reduce acid by eating sweet fruits including bananas, sweet grapes, raisins and prunes. Avocados, sweet peppers and watermelon are also healthy to eat and don't cause GERD symptoms. Avoid tomato-based foods, as they are highly acidic and cause heartburn. Tomato-based foods includes salsa, marinades and tomato juice.


According to the Mayo Clinic, fatty foods such a red meat relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes your stomach to slowly empty out food. During slow stomach emptying, acid can travel back into your oesophagus. Prevent lower esophageal sphincter relaxation by switching minced meat to extra lean minced meat. Not only are you lowering the risk of heartburn and other symptoms, you are also reducing saturated fat intake. Saturated fat can cause cardiovascular disease such as strokes and heart attacks, and contribute to obesity, which can increase GERD symptoms. Instead of red meat, eat more fish and skinless chicken breasts as a substitute. Chicken and fish have the same protein value as red meat without the high levels of saturated fat. Fatty and fried foods can cause your LES to relax, which allows acid to flow into the oesophagus and upset your hiatus hernia. Prepare your chicken or fish by grilling or baking instead of frying to reduce heartburn and regurgitation.


Spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans and broccoli are all healthy for you because they are non-starchy vegetables packed with vitamin E, C and magnesium. They are considered alkaline foods, which help lower acidity in your stomach by balancing your pH level. High pH levels means your stomach is producing too much acid, and you will likely experience GERD symptoms. Non-starchy vegetables are also low in calories, and can be consumed in large amounts without the risk of overeating.


Dairy should be limited to one to two servings per day to avoid heartburn and acid reflux. To reduce symptoms, switch your dairy products that use whole milk with low fat and nonfat. Replace your butter and margarine with oil to reduce fat and lower caloric intake. If symptoms persist or worsen after you reduce your consumption, it may be a sign that you have become lactose intolerant, and should switch to soy milk instead.

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