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Acid Reflux Diet Tips & Dangers

Acid Reflux Diet Tips & Dangers

If you’ve ever felt like a knife’s scraping out your chest area from inside, you are perhaps one of the four in ten who experience acid reflux and its close cousin, heartburn.

Heartburn tends to be less severe, sometimes just a pressure or pain in the chest area but they are both caused by the same thing: acid from your stomach getting past the valve to your stomach and into your esophagus.

This condition is not just uncomfortable. If acid reflux persists, the acid can damage your stomach valve (which can cause more of the same symptoms). It can also damage the esophagus itself, increasing esophageal cancer risk.

There are two ways to approach this situation. The short term solution for getting rid of discomfort includes medication. A longer, more holistic approach includes learning how to improve digestion.

Luckily, the diet for acid reflux fits into both plans!

Acid Reflux Diet: Foods to Avoid

This standard list of foods includes items high in fat and protein. These foods stay in your stomach for a long time increasing the chances of building up acid. Other foods on this list stimulate or irritate a sensitive stomach — a complete NO for acid reflux sufferers.

These have been proven scientifically to trigger heartburn.

1.  Mint
2.  Chocolate is high in stimulants, fat, and cocoa — which all increase reflux. Even healthy chocolate is a problem.
3.  Deep fried food
4.  Coffee – caffeinated and decaffeinated. All caffeine products are included.
5.  Alcohol – especially wine.

Additional foods that may increase the problem are:

6.  Sodas: High in acid, fill the stomach with gas bubbles and sometimes contain caffeine.
7.  High-fat dairy products
8.  High-fat meats: beef, pork and lamb stay in the stomach longer.
9.  Citrus fruits and juices
10.  Garlic
11.  Onions
12.  Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, including pizza.
13.  Spicy food

Note: Everyone is different and everyone will respond differently to these foods.

Acid Reflux Diet: Foods to Eat

  • Whole grains: oatmeal and brown rice top this list!
  • Ginger – history of anti-inflammation and digestive regulation
  • Salads – (without the tomatoes and high fat dressing)
  • Banana
  • Melon
  • Fennel
  • Chicken and Turkey (low fat)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Greens and Roots
  • Celery
  • Parsley

Note: As before individual response may vary.

antacids

Very Short Term Relief:

1. Over-the-counter heartburn medications such as antacids work for 1-2 hours.

2.  Some medications like Proton pump inhibitors. These can prevent acid production altogether but have significant side effects.

Antacids are the third most common over the counter drug, selling 2.3 billion in 2012 in the U.S. The sixth most prescribed drug — Generic Prilosec — is also an antacid, raking in 53.4 million prescriptions. You can skip the drug industry with a home remedy of 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in water. Strangely enough (since it is acidic), apple cider vinegar has also been found helpful for quick relief.

Short Term Lifestyle Changes:

1. Eat less at each meal.

2. Don’t eat before bed, especially if your acid-reflux is related to lying down.

3. Lie with your chest and head slightly elevated on pillows.

4. Lie on the left side of your body. (Since your stomach is on your left side.)

Long Term Lifestyle Changes


Lose Weight

The best advice traditional medicine has for acid-reflux suffers is to lose weight. Being overweight compresses the stomach and increases the tendency of the stomach acid to be forced into the esophagus.

This is easier said than done. If acid reflux sufferers really knew HOW to lose weight easily, they would probably not be overweight and not have acid-reflux problem in the first place.

We need a long term plan to be healthy. A healthy lifestyle would likely take care of excess weight acid-reflux and a hundred other problems.

From this perspective, the avoid list mostly foods you should avoid whether you have acid reflux or not and the good reflux foods are mostly foods that you can eat with pleasure, whether it’s weight loss you wish or to look younger.

Improve Your Digestion

Holistic health practitioners have been telling us for years just how dangerous the antacids and acid blocking medications are.

If your long term health depends on what nutrients you are taking in, the LAST thing you want to do is neutralize your stomach acids or block off stomach acid completely. Even traditional medicine recognizes this can cause calcium and mineral deficiencies.

Holistic practitioners go one step further: they suggest one of the main reasons we experience acid reflux is that our stomachs are generally LOW on acid from a continuous stressful diet of irritating food. The stomach gets used to this and creates a smaller buffer against the acids so that when the stomach is finally shocked into secreting more by obvious irritants like alcohol and caffeine, then the system is overwhelmed.

Diana in kitchen

My Story

For most of life I had very strong acid reflux that started in my teens. Later I discovered that it was important to watch what I ate. Most of what is on the list of “Foods to Avoid” is what I naturally avoided.

The problem is I had no idea what was creating this problem. My acid reflux continued to worsen until I was in extreme pain from almost everything I ate.  Many nights saw me propped up with pillows as I was unable to lay down due to intense gas pain.

One night the pain was so intense it resonated throughout my whole digestive system from the appendix area to my heart. We feared I was either having an appendicitis attack or a heart attack so we called the doctor who came to my bedside in the middle of the night. Fortunately it was neither.

The way I dealt with this was to limit all foods that caused any intense pain after eating.

At this point, I could only eat twelve foods.

Finally, I went to a clinic for six weeks doing a major detox and slowly introducing foods back in. I left the clinic able to eat twelve foods every day without any problem! That was a major breakthrough.

What were these foods? All were alkaline forming foods except for two and many were watery.  Dense foods just did not work.  I would eat lots of watermelon all year long, celery, romaine lettuce, zucchini, blueberries, fresh orange juice, fish, 1 tsp of olive oil, small bits of avocado and well-cooked potato and a daily glass of vegetable juice. Later I was able to add more fruits and vegetables.

Finally after years of extreme indigestion, I did get my digestive health back thanks to specific testing telling me about my food sensitivities and products to nourish me back to health.  The good news is, it worked! I am happy to say that I can eat almost everything now except chemical additives in food and that, I believe, is my body’s intelligence.

Here is the recipe for my favourite vegetable juice: Perfect Vegetable Juice

Written by Randy Fritz and Diana Herrington of Real Food for Life.

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Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy Living Network and Healthy Cooking. She is the head chef at Real Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook or Twitter (@DancinginLife).

102 comments

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3:23PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

I have been living with SEVERE GERD for several years now and have found eating certain foods to be far more effective for symptom relief than any drug I have tried. Below is a link to an article explaining the types of foods you can and cannot eat to start recovering from this ailment.

DO NOT underestimate the effect your diet and lifestlye has on GERD. You can control it and still have a good quality of life if you make the necessary changes.

http://communitywebline.ca/articles.php?id=12814

8:54AM PDT on Oct 20, 2013

I work in a day surgery where we do many esophagogastroduodenoscopies or scopes of the esphagus/stomach/ duodenum and every week we see stomachs torn up by people taking baby Aspirin and NSAIDS on an empty stomach or without adequate food to protect their stomachs. You should always take these drugs with a lot of food including protein. Even buffered or enteric coated baby aspirin can cause damage. A big danger of untreated reflux is that it can lead to Barrett's esophagitis which is pre-cancerous.

1:47AM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

I enjoy at least one smoothie a day - normally at breakfast. When I make the mixture, I always add the juice of one lime or lemon. I must have missed that in this article.

Also agree with Sybil G's recommendations - all good !

12:35AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

Very thorough article. I've passed it on to a few that I know that have Acid Reflux. I didn't know about the baking soda/water or the ACV, I like natural ways of solving health issues. Thanks, Diana, for sharing your own personal story and for a great article. Love your website too.

2:32AM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

Noted

12:56PM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

ty

12:54PM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

I was just saying in Healthy Living how much Diana has been through and here she is so healthy now. Thank you Diana for all you do here.

6:19PM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Thanks

2:18AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Thank you :)

11:41PM PDT on Oct 5, 2013

Since, I cut back on dairy and meat, my heartburn has decreased, no doubt.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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