GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic condition that is a more severe form of acid reflux. The condition can be controlled with proper diet and lifestyle changes, and it’s possible that you’ll need to eliminate some of the foods you love from your diet.
Before you make adjustments to your diet, it’s important to note the difference between acid reflux and GERD.
The Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux
A lot of people use the terms “acid reflux” and GERD interchangeably, and while similar, the two are different. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is acid reflux which is caused by stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus.
If you have acid reflux, you may also experience heartburn, which is burning in the chest.
GERD is slightly different because it’s a progression of acid reflux, which is more severe. A person with GERD is also likely to have heartburn multiple times per week rather than the occasional heartburn caused by acid reflux.
When lying down at night, you may also experience coughing, heartburn, regurgitation, or even wheezing. Changes to the food you eat and your lifestyle can both help reduce the symptoms of both acid reflux and GERD.
Foods That Triggers Acid Reflux/GERD
GERD is growing in the general population, with estimates of 15% to 30% of Americans suffering from the disease. Diet plays one of the largest roles in GERD and can either help you control your acid, or it can make it worse.
Avoiding key trigger foods is essential. The foods that you’ll want to limit or completely remove from your diet are:
- Citrus fruits
- Foods that are high in fat
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
Everyone has different triggers for their reflux. Some people may have severe symptoms after drinking soda, while others do not. Find your triggers and begin eliminating them from your diet.
Food to Reduce Acid Reflux
Foods and drinks can help reduce your acid reflux. The key foods and beverages known to help reduce acid reflux symptoms include:
To avoid triggering your acid reflux/GERD, stick to non-acidic drinks. Beverages that may reduce acid reflux include:
- Water: The best drink for anyone with acid reflux or GERD. Water will keep you hydrated, which can help keep your symptoms at bay.
- Chamomile tea: Although chamomile tea is best known for its relaxing properties, it can also help calm upset stomachs and digestive issues.
- Slippery elm tea: Slippery elm contains a substance called mucilage, which becomes a gel when mixed with water. Mucilage can help soothe inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, and it can also help improve mucus production, which protects against extra acidity.
- Marshmallow tea: Like slippery elm, marshmallow contains mucilage that can help soothe inflammation and prevent symptoms of acid reflux.
- Skim milk: Stick to low-fat milk if you have acid reflux/GERD. Skim milk has the least amount of fat, which makes it the ideal choice.
- Non-dairy milk: Soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and other non-dairy milk are great for people with acid reflux.
- Unsweetened coconut water: Coconut water contains vital electrolytes to help you stay hydrated. Make sure you choose an unsweetened version.
Aim for low-fat dairy products whenever possible. Cultured dairy, like yogurt, can provide your body with beneficial bacteria for a healthy gut, which may help improve digestion. Some people find that dairy in general triggers their acid reflux, so keep a food diary to track your symptoms.
- Skim milk
- Low-fat cheese, like parmesan cheese or feta cheese
- Low-fat yogurt
- Eggs or egg whites
Meat and Seafood
Lean meats are ideal for acid reflux/GERD, but fatty fish can also help soothe inflammation that may be causing your symptoms.
Vegetables and Grains
Many vegetables and grains are alkalizing and contain little or no fat. Some of the best vegetables and grains for acid reflux/GERD are:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain couscous
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Other leafy greens
Acid reflux and GERD can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but changing your diet can make all the difference. Do your best to avoid trigger foods and keep a food diary to better narrow down your list of a trigger and safe foods.