Acid reflux & diet

Written by jerry shaw
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Acid reflux & diet
Bananas may help prevent acid reflux. (BANANES image by corinne matusiak from Fotolia.com)

Acid reflux causes the pain and burning of heartburn and sometimes results in acid regurgitation, in which acid rises to the back of your mouth and produces a sour taste. Antacids or medication to reduce stomach acid production help relieve symptoms. If you suffer from acid reflux often, a change in the diet can provide long-term protection from uncomfortable episodes.

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Offending foods

Your first step involves avoiding foods that induce acid reflux. Not everyone has the same triggers. Some people may find that fried or spicy foods cause acid reflux and heartburn. Other people experience symptoms from chocolate, carbonated beverages, onions or acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes. Find the particular culprits in your diet by noting the foods you have eaten when experiencing acid reflux. You can do this mentally or keep a food diary for a week. Write down the foods you have eaten, the time of the meal and the symptoms you experience so you can eventually get rid of trigger foods.

Heavy meals

High-fat or heavy meals promote acid reflux because they take longer to digest and produce more stomach acid secretion. Fatty and fried foods also relax an oesophageal muscle to increase the risk of acid reflux. A weakened oesophageal muscle does not contract properly after foods enter the stomach and allows acidic contents to rise back up into the oesophagus. Decreasing your fat intake helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight promotes acid reflux by putting pressure on the abdomen.

Low-fat protein foods

Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue in the body. Increasing protein in your diet may help reinforce the oesophageal muscle to prevent acid reflux. Be careful when eating protein foods, which contain saturated fats. Eat lean beef and cut off all visible fat before cooking. Buy poultry without skin or remove the skin before preparing. Fish usually contains less fat than meat and poultry. Choose low-fat dairy products.

Fibre protection

Whole-grain foods contain more fibre and nutrients than refined or processed grains and benefit digestion. Whole grains turn into a gel-like substance during digestion and may soak up excess acid in the stomach. Choose wholewheat or multigrain breads, wholegrain cereal, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, barley and porridge for protection against acid reflux. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibre for smooth digestion. Bananas and papaya have been used in home remedies for heartburn. Do not eat citrus fruits or tomatoes if they cause heartburn. Avoid fried vegetables.

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