An acid reflux diet is proven to ease symptoms and promote esophageal healing.
An acid reflux diet is proven to ease symptoms and promote esophageal healing. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 17 million Americans could benefit from improvements in acid reflux treatment. This includes adults and children who experience annoying heartburn after eating meals, sour taste in their mouth, foreign body sensation in the throat, bad breath and chronic cough. Symptoms of acid reflux vary from person to person. As well, the severity of symptoms varies. And while over-the-counter and prescription medications are effective and often necessary, some people choose to treat the condition by altering their eating habits.
Located near the lower region of the esophagus is a band of muscles. After swallowing food or drinks, these bands of muscles relax and allow food to travel into the stomach. Food and liquids are supposed to remain in the stomach. However, people who suffer from acid reflux experience a slight malfunction of the esophageal muscles and valve. As a result, food and liquids are able to backflow or travel up the food pipe or the esophagus. This produces heartburn, which is often described as a painful burning, coughing and occasional regurgitation. Yet, there are ways to prevent stomach backflow.
Eating smaller meals has helped many people control their acid reflux symptoms. Rather than eat three large meals a day, an acid reflux sufferer should attempt to eat six smaller meals throughout the day, for example. This simple dietary change relieves pressure around the esophageal muscles and keeps the esophageal valve closed. Thus, stomach acid stays in the stomach and does not backflow into the throat.
Several factors increase a persons risk of developing acid reflux. This condition is common among diabetics and overweight individuals. However, these individuals can lower their risk and reduce the recurrence of symptoms by altering their diet and losing weight. Certain foods are proven to induce acid reflux. And while trigger foods differ for each person, fatty foods are a common cause.
Fatty foods can include meats, dairy products, fried foods and fast foods. Sufferers may not make the connection between fatty foods and acid reflux. However, foods with high-fat contents increase the production of stomach acid. In turn, this decreases lower esophageal muscle pressure, and the stomach empties at a slower rate. Excess liquid or acid in the stomach can travel up the food pipe and trigger acid reflux symptoms. Eating a low-fat diet reduces stomach acid, and it helps sufferers control their weight.
Fatty and fried foods are not the only acid reflux trigger foods. Several foods are proven to cause annoying symptoms. Foods that trigger symptoms in one person may be different for another person. Therefore, sufferers may have to keep a food journal and record their symptoms. Foods and drinks that can affect people with acid reflux may include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea, garlic, onions, spicy foods and acidic foods such as certain fruits and tomato products. Some sufferers note symptoms after eating one or two items on the list, whereas other people may experience symptoms with all the listed foods.
Choosing the best acid reflux diet takes time and patience. Sufferers have to identify foods that trigger their symptoms. Next, they have to find healthy alternatives and stick with their diet. An acid reflux diet is critical because ongoing exposure to stomach acid can permanently damage the esophagus. When this happens, the risk of developing esophageal cancer increases. Rather than ignore symptoms of acid reflux, or accept the condition as a part of life, sufferers should alter their eating habits and stop acid reflux. Of course, an acid reflux diet involves more than choosing the right kind of foods.
According to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, sufferers should eat their last meal two to three hours before going to bed in order to lessen symptoms. It is best to remain in an upright position after a meal. Failure to do so can cause pain below the breastbone, a burning sensation and other acid reflux-related symptoms. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, chewing sugarless gum for 30 minutes after eating can increase saliva production and neutralize stomach acid.
Additionally, parents may have to customize a diet for their children. Although adults commonly complain of heartburn, acid reflux is common amongst young children. Occasional reflux is normal in infants and children. However, acid reflux is characterized by frequent regurgitation, especially if reflux continues past the age of one. Parents can help ease discomfort by burping babies several times, keeping them upright at least 30 minutes after eating and eliminating acid reflux trigger foods from their diet.