Acid reflux–or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)–is a condition that causes digested food or drink to reenter the esophagus from the stomach. Acid reflux may result from a physical defect in the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and the stomach that prevents it from staying closed. However, overeating and eating too many acid-forming foods are two other causes of acid reflux. While antacids may provide temporary relief, avoiding certain foods is a more effective way to prevent acid reflux.
What to Avoid
In acid reflux, acid-forming foods imbalance and increase the stomach's acid content, which then causes a backflow of the stomach's contents into the esophagus. According to Med Help, avoid high-fat foods, fried foods, spicy foods, highly irritating foods such as oranges and tomatoes, chocolate, caffeinated coffee, tea and soda, and alcohol.
These foods either take a very long time to digest, causing the stomach to produce more acid to break it down, or they irritate the stomach lining. Alcohol also weakens the sphincter muscle.
Other foods to avoid include onions, mashed potatoes, lemon, grapefruit and cranberry juices, dairy products high in fat and added sugars, pastas, salad dressings and pastries and sweets. These foods are also irritating to the digestive system and further imbalance the stomach's acid levels.
What to Eat
Healthy alternatives that promote acid-reflux health include fresh vegetables and non-citrus fruits, low-fat foods, and healthy snack alternatives such as nuts, yogurt and non-fried snack foods like rice cakes, baked chips and dried fruits. Irritants vary from person to person, so pay attention to what foods cause your acid reflux.
How to Eat
Andrew Saul, Ph.D., of DoctorYourself.com, suggests that in addition to eating the right foods, your lunch should be your heaviest meal of the day. Eating your last meal early and consuming foods that are easy to digest–healthy foods like rice, beans, steamed vegetables and vegetable juices and yogurt, to name a few–will greatly relieve your condition. Natural foods rich in digestive enzymes–papaya, figs, pineapple and even yogurt–help to restore balance to the stomach's acidic environment.
Dr. Saul also discusses natural digestive enzyme supplements. As he relates, acid reflux may indicate a deficiency in the amount of stomach acid needed to break down proteins. The supplements may stimulate the production of stomach acid.
In addition, you may find it helps if you do not lie down after eating, sleep with your head slightly elevated, drink a lot of water and alleviate as many stress avenues as possible. Contact your doctor if these self-help measures do not effectively relieve your acid reflux condition.