Does your stomach hurt? Feeling bloated? Heartburn? Well, you are not alone. Approximately 7 million people in the US have some symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or acid reflux), and approximately 20% of that populations report those symptoms occurring weekly. GERD is a condition where the contents of the stomach are irritated and come back up causing further irritation of the esophagus, resulting in symptoms like burning, taste of acid, chest pain, bad breath, vomiting or wearing away of the teeth. It sounds awful and it is awful. Having transient heartburn is one there, perhaps somewhat that you experience during pregnancy, but countless Americans live with this disease weekly, if not daily. The reality. We don’t have to keep suffering. Many of these symptoms can be treated with diet, and choosing foods that do not cause acid reflux. The challenge – many of the foods that we love are linked to acid reflux, so choosing wisely can require will power and commitment. But it is worth it – for our stomachs and our wallet.
The impact of acid reflux
As mentioned above, GERD or acid reflux has taken a major toll on the average American, as well as the American economy. People with GERD report a lower quality of life, including a reduced enjoyment of food, sleep problems and work concentration difficulties. In fact, there are approximately 64.6 million prescriptions written for GERD annually, and of course, that doesn’t include the various over the counter remedies for these symptoms. Not to mention the cost of the loss of productivity everyday. The estimated loss of productivity is approximately $2 billion each week! What can we do to minimize this cost, both in time in money? Choose wisely in the kitchen…
Foods that cause acid reflux
Stay away from these foods whenever possible to minimize the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Meats – This includes ground beef, chicken nuggets and chicken/buffalo wings.
- High fat foods, including oils and sweets – Chocolate, potato and corn chips, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, and fried and fatty foods
- Some fruits, vegetables and juice – Specifically those high in acid, like citrus fruits, tomatoes and raw onion and garlic.
- Beverages – Wine, liquor, tea and coffee.
- Pasta with sauces – Macaroni and cheese, pasta with marinara sauce.
- Dairy – Sour cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, milk shakes.
Foods that do not cause acid reflux
- Oatmeal – The ideal breakfast for anyone, specifically anyone with acid reflux, but great anytime of the day! Those that adopt a high-fiber diet (oatmeal is incredibly high in fiber) are 20% less likely to have acid reflux. Our Chai-Spiced Maple-Apple-Pecan Oatmeal is the perfect way to start your day.
- Ginger – Ubiquitous in Asian cuisine, ginger is considered to anti-inflammatory properties and often used to treat GI symptoms. It’s no surprise hospitals stock ginger ale on every hospital floor!
- Salad – Despite the roughage, salad is an ideal meal for those with acid reflux. Just watch the addition of tomatoes and too much dressing. Measure your dressing and keep it to a tablespoon or less! Our Tofu Thai Chopped Salad is the perfect blend of spice and sweet for a summer day, and it can really help minimize your reflux.
- Bananas – Given the acidity of this fruit, the banana is the ideal snack for those with acid reflux. Use it in a smoothie or eat alone for the perfect fuel mid-day!
- Melon – Cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon are perfect on a summer day for anyone, but even better for those with acid reflux. The pH of 6.1 is ideal to minimize the acid content of the stomach.
- Fennel – This bulbous root vegetable boasts an pH of 6.9 and has a mild licorice flavor. Great cooked or even raw on salad, this vegetable can help with acid reflux.
- Chicken or turkey – Poultry is one of the few animal based products that are ok on a diet for those with acid reflux. But don’t fry it! Grill it, broil it, or bake it and it is perfectly fine for those with reflux.
- Seafood – Fish or even shellfish are great for those with acid reflux. As long the seafood is grilled, broiled or baked, it is healthy and safe for those with reflux.
- Root vegetables and greens – Shockingly veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are great for those with reflux. Despite their gassy nature, these veggies are encouraged by those on The Reflux Diet. Other great veggies include asparagus, green beans and leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard.
- Parsley – This widely available herb is wonderful as a digestive aid and helps settle the stomach.
- Grains – Cous cous, brown rice or even burger wheat are perfect complex carbohydrates to help with acid reflux. Try our Indian-Spiced Brown Rice for an easy side for your next dinner.