19 Foods Which Alleviate and Prevent Acid Reflux (GERD)
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
Table of Contents
List of Foods to Alleviate Acid Reflux
Ginger is a demulcent herb, traditionally used as a natural remedy for indigestion and heartburn. Demulcents are thought to work by forming a physical barrier against stomach acid, as well as reducing inflammation. (5,6,7) Try adding ginger to various dishes (such as steamed fish) and try ginger tea before or after meals to see if it helps ease your symptoms.
2 Herbs (Except for pepper, citrus, garlic, and mustard)
Herbs are a healthy way to add flavor to your food without needing to use excessive amounts of oil, salt, or sugar. They are also a concentrated source of many nutrients. Try a variety of fresh herbs in your diet and see how it affects your acid reflux. Chamomile, sage, and peppermint are particularly good. (8)
3 Chamomile Tea (No black or green tea)
4 Chewing Gum
Chewing gum immediately after a meal, and for up to one hour afterward, is associated with acid reflux relief. (11) When buying chewing gum, look for brands with no artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
5 Vegetables (No Onions, Tomatoes, or Peppers)
Raw or cooked, vegetables are generally good for an acid reflux diet, with at least one study showing that eating vegetables lowers the risk of GERD by 33%. (12) Be sure to avoid onions, tomatoes, or peppers. Recommended vegetables include all root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and carrots. Other great vegetables include mushrooms, fennel, and celery.
7 Milk Substitutes
Cow's milk can trigger reflux in certain populations, (14) so trying alternatives such as soy milk can be helpful.
8 Natural Licorice
Licorice is used as an ailment for digestive diseases and may be effective in alleviating symptoms of GERD. (15) Be sure to consume only natural licorice avoiding most major candies which often use anise seed to mimic the taste of licorice. Licorice supplements may also be a good choice, however, it is best to discuss adding this supplement to your routine with your doctor first. Licorice can have some dangerous side effects, especially if you are pregnant or at risk of high blood pressure. (16)
9 Mastic Gum
Mastic gum is a natural herbal supplement from the mastic tree in Greece. Sometimes consumed and chewed as a gum, added to food, or taken as a supplement Mastic gum holds promise as a natural way to alleviate acid reflux. In this study participants taking mastic gum supplements reported a 79% decline in gastrointestinal discomfort. (17)
Homemade soups, especially with whole wheat noodles and the approved vegetables above can make a great meal to prevent reflux. Soup also has the advantage of aiding in weight loss, which is likely to help with acid reflux.
12 Plain Popcorn (Unbuttered, Unsalted)
Popcorn is made from a whole grain, and can make a great snack. Be sure to only eat plain popcorn with nothing added.
13 Lean Meats (Fish and Chicken)
While protein from plants is better for GERD, lean animal proteins like chicken and fish can also be acceptable to some people. When preparing meat for a GERD diet, be sure to boil, saute, or steam it. Avoid deep-frying and pan-frying.
14 Honey and Agave
15 Whole Grains (Especially Oatmeal)
Whole grains like whole wheat bread (especially rye), brown rice, and oatmeal can help ease reflux. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which helps to absorb acidic contents in the stomach reducing symptoms of acid reflux. (20) Oatmeal is even thought to absorb stomach acid, and acid from other foods. Please note, that this does not include granola, due to its high oil and sugar content. Also, if you consume oatmeal with milk, be sure to use skim, or preferably soy milk.
17 Apple Cider Vinegar
There are mixed opinions on the benefits of incorporating apple cider vinegar (ACV) into your diet. The theory behind this treatment is that low stomach acid causes acid reflux, so adding in an acidic food like ACV should signal your brain to tighten the lower esophagus sphincter valve. Though some people claim that ACV has reduced their acid reflux symptoms, no scientific data supports this. ACV has been shown to increase weight loss in some studies, so this may assist in reducing reflux symptoms. (21) Proceed with caution because consuming any kind of vinegar can damage the digestive tract and tooth enamel. All vinegar is highly caustic and should only be consumed when diluted with water.
Honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon can be helpful for acid reflux. (12) It is, however, easy to overeat melon. Overeating can trigger reflux, so watch your portion sizes.
Other Factors Affecting Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Overweight and Obesity - Being overweight or obese is strongly associated with GERD, possibly due to the stomach having less space. (22,23) Check your BMI to set a health weight target. Also, consume more high fiber low-calorie foods to help with weight loss (and acid-reflux).
- Smoking - Smoking relaxes the reduces lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) pressure, and is correlated with a higher incidence of acid reflux and GERD. (24,25)
- Avoid Excessive Exercise - High-intensity exercise over a long period of time can cause GERD. Changes in blood flow to the stomach and possibly even hormone secretion are responsible. (26) Avoid eating before exercise. Moderate or exercise in short bursts is fine. (27)
- High Fiber Diet - Foods high in fiber help foods move through your body, reducing the incidence of acid reflux. (28) Avoid high-fiber foods that are high in acid like oranges. (29)
- Practice Good Eating Habits - Eating very hot foods, skipping breakfast, eating too fast, eating a midnight snack, and overeating are all associated with increased incidence of acid reflux. (30) Instead focus on eating slowly, eating moderate portion sizes, and avoid eating 3 hours before laying down or bedtime.
What Foods Make Acid Reflux Worse?
Foods that can trigger acid reflux include fatty fried foods, chocolate, coffee, tea, sodas, onions, and more. See the article on foods to avoid for acid reflux for more information.
Data Sources and References
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- Bardhan KD. Safety profile of long-term H2-antagonist therapy Yale J Biol Med. 1996 May-Jun;69(3):211-24. 9165690
- Haniadka R, Rajeev AG, Palatty PL, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials J Altern Complement Med. 2012 May;18(5):440-4. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0737. Epub 2012 Apr 27. 22540971
- Baliga MS, Haniadka R, Pereira MM, D'Souza JJ, Pallaty PL, Bhat HP, Popuri S. A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jul;51(6):499-523. doi: 10.1080/10408391003698669. 21929329
- Ghayur MN, Gilani AH. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of ginger in gastrointestinal disorders Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2006 Feb-Mar;57(1-2):65-73. doi: 10.1080/09637480600656074. 16849115
- MedlinePlus - Indigestion Also called: Dyspepsia, Upset stomach
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- Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):44-9. 22894890
- Pehl C, Pfeiffer A, Waizenhoefer A, Wendl B, Schepp W. Walking and chewing reduce postprandial acid reflux Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001 Feb;15(2):233-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2001.00919.x. 11148443
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