Gastroesophageal reflux disease, referred to as GERD for short, is a digestive disorder where the stomach acid backflows into the esophagus. According to Healthline.com, this occurs when a valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged.
It is quite a common condition, affecting approximately seven million people in the United States alone. And while there is no quick cure for GERD, eating certain foods can help with its symptoms by controlling the amount of acid the stomach produces—including these 7.
Due to their low fat and sugar content, vegetables are effective at reducing the amount of stomach acid that is produced. Almost all colors and varieties are beneficial, but Dr. Axe says that “artichoke, leafy greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green beans, peas, cucumber and fennel” are especially so.
Health.com adds that celery is also a good food choice to combat acid reflux due to its high water content, as is parsley, which “has been used as a medicinal herb to settle the stomach and aid digestion.”
Due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is also considered to be effective at treating heartburn and other digestive issues. According to Gerd-Diet.com, this is because ginger “absorb stomach acid and calm the nerves.”
The source suggests eating it candied, drinking it in tea, or taking it in supplement form after a meal. Dr. Axe adds that adding turmeric to your diet may also offer similar benefits.
Not only is oatmeal a nutritious and filling breakfast food, Healthline.com says it can “absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of reflux.” A whole grain food, it offers an excellent source of fiber.
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, “Fiber in the diet has been linked to fewer GERD symptoms,” so it’s important to ensure you’re consuming an adequate amount. In addition to oatmeal, other whole grain sources of fiber include whole grain breads and rice, as well as millet, quinoa, and couscous.
4. Non-citrus Fruits
Many fruits are also an excellent source of fiber, as well as certain carbohydrates that are beneficial for reducing symptoms of GERD. According to GICare.com, these include apples, berries, melons, bananas, peaches and pears.
Apples, in particular, can “reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and decrease the likelihood of reflux,” says Gerd-Diet.com. Health.com notes, however, that in a small percentage of cases (approximately 1 to 2 percent) bananas and melon may worsen a person’s acid reflux.
5. Lean Meats
Due to their low fat content, lean meats like chicken, fish, and turkey can help to reduce the symptoms of GERD. Healthline.com suggests trying them grilled, broiled, baked, or poached.
Salmon, for example, is not only an excellent source of protein, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids. According to Gerd-Diet.com, some people have found that “adding omega-3s to their GERD diet significantly reduced GERD symptoms.” This is not the case for everyone, however, so it’s important to be mindful of your body’s reaction after consumption.
6. Egg Whites
Eggs have also been found to reduce GERD symptoms, although Healthline.com notes that you should “stay away from egg yolks, which are high in fat and may trigger reflux symptoms.”
Again, this is not the case for everyone, as Dr. Axe says that some people experience worsened symptoms after eating egg whites, “which can trap air inside the GI tract.”
7. Healthy Fats
While certain fats—like saturated and trans fats—can worsen the symptoms of GERD, healthy fats can help to mitigate them. One type of healthy fat is known as monounsaturated fats, which the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders says come from sources such as olive oil, avocados, and a variety of nuts and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats are another type, which the source says can be found in oils from safflower, flaxseed and walnut; in soy sources like tofu; as well as in fatty fish like salmon and trout.