Acid reflux has become much more common in today’s world. It comes about when acid from the stomach makes its way up into the esophagus, causing irritation or burning. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES – the muscle at the top of the stomach that acts as a valve – doesn’t close properly, allowing stomach acids to rise into the esophagus itself. If left untreated it can lead to ulcers in the esophagus and even esophageal cancer. So what are the symptoms, and what can you do to prevent or reduce it?
Some Signs Of Acid Reflux
If you suspect you have this condition, consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. The list below is not definitive, but these are some of the most common symptoms.
- Chest pain
- Discomfort after a meal
- Discomfort when lying down
- A persistent dry cough
Foods For Acid Reflux
If you have been diagnosed with this condition, one of the simplest things you can do may be to modify your diet. Some foods are less likely to cause heartburn than others. For example:
- Fruits. Fruits that are not high in citrus may be safe. This includes apples and bananas.
- Vegetables. Vegetables including potatoes, broccoli, and carrots typically do not cause heartburn and are therefore safe as part of an acid reflux diet.
- Meats. Many meats are safe to include in your diet. This may include lean ground beef, steak, and fish.
- Grains. Breads that are high in whole grains are generally safe. Oatmeal or bran are safe also, as is rice.
- Drinks. Decaffeinated teas are easy on the digestion. However, avoid spearmint and peppermint teas; these can exacerbate it.
- Cooking oils. These typically do not cause heartburn. You may find that salad dressings contain other items such as garlic that can. However, you can find recipes online for homemade salad dressings which don’t include elements that cause heartburn. Remember to choose healthy oils.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Plenty of foods exacerbate the condition, some of which you may not immediately think of since they aren’t normally associated with heartburn. These include:
- Alcohol. It’s a good idea to reduce or eliminate alcohol from your diet regardless, but it’s particularly wise if you suffer from acid reflux.
- Chocolate. It’s unfortunate that this common snack food is linked with acid reflux. Reduce your consumption or eliminate it entirely.
- Caffeine. If you have been diagnosed with acid reflux, it’s time to remove coffee from your diet — and tea that is not decaffeinated, though even some decaffeinated teas have been linked with acid reflux. This includes mint teas like peppermint and spearmint.
- Fatty foods. Avoid fried foods. The extra fat is linked with acid reflux.
- Garlic and Onions. These two staples of the modern diet need to go. It is possible to cook without them, and you can find recipes online that will help. Keep in mind, garlic and onion powder is often used to flavor store-bought foods, so read ingredient labels carefully.
- Spicy, hot foods. These can irritate the stomach, leading to heartburn.
- Tomatoes. These, another staple of the modern diet, have been linked with acid reflux, so reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
Living With Acid Reflux
It is possible to manage heartburn on a day-to-day basis. Acid reflux is often associated with excessive weight, as fat built up in the chest around the top of the stomach may cause pressure on the esophagus, preventing the LES from closing properly. So losing weight should be a key element of getting acid reflux under control. And as research has shown, diet more than anything else is key to weight loss.