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Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that affects the esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. It has been named one of the leading causes of heartburn and other health problems in children. The GERD diet plan will help determine what foods can lead to this issue without side effects, including weight gain or ulcers.
In roughly 1 in 5 American adults, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) produces daily chronic heartburn, often known as acid reflux. The esophagus is eroded by this chronic illness caused by inflammation and the malfunction of the stomach. So what are the causes of GERD or acid reflux? Obesity, untreated food allergies, leaky gut syndrome, smoking, high-stress levels, and poor circulation are all core causes and risk factors for GERD.
Many individuals choose to treat GERD naturally because of the hazards connected with long-term usage of GERD and acid reflux/heartburn drugs. They adjust their lifestyles and eat a better diet. When it comes to managing this unpleasant illness, the first area to focus your attention is on eating a GERD diet, which involves eliminating certain processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
“Symptoms of mucosal damage caused by aberrant reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus, or beyond into the oral cavity (including the larynx) or the lungs,” according to the definition of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Around 10-20% of the adult population suffers from daily GERD symptoms, and a far larger number suffers from acid reflux symptoms at least once a month. If GERD is not treated, it may lead to major health concerns such as Barrett’s esophagus, an increased risk of esophageal cancer, esophageal ulcers, and other complications.
Many people mistakenly believe that GERD is the same as heartburn or acid reflux. However, GERD is now linked to growing inflammation levels, rather than merely being a side effect of chronic acid reflux. Inflammation is frequently caused by poor gut health. It has the potential to make the immune system target the body’s own tissue. To put it another way, it seems that untreated acid reflux may lead to GERD as it advances and damages the esophagus. Other lifestyle and nutritional variables, however, seem to have a role.
Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors for Gerd:
The following are common GERD signs and symptoms:
- Chest aches, including intense burning feeling in the throat or chest (heartburn).
- Wheezing, asthma symptoms, prolonged coughing, and difficulties breathing are all common.
- Having difficulty swallowing or eating normally.
- In the mouth, there is a sour flavor.
- Gas being stuck in the upper section of the digestive system causes bloating and burping.
- Excessive salivation is a condition in which a person salivates excessively.
- Tooth deterioration
- Complications such as esophageal injury and extensive tissue scarring inside the esophagus or respiratory system have been known to occur.
The following are risk factors for GERD and other digestive difficulties linked to poor gut health and high levels of inflammation:
- Not addressing food sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy may all affect gut health, produce a leaky gut syndrome, and increase inflammatory levels.
- Acid reflux, bloating, gas, and other GERD symptoms may be triggered by eating a poor diet and ingesting foods that irritate the digestive system (more on these issue foods below).
- Having a history of hiatal hernias is a risk factor. Heartburn is caused when a stomach piece is forced through the diaphragm and into the thoracic cavity.
- Pregnancy, which puts additional strain on the digestive system.
- Obesity and being overweight are two different things.
- There is an excessive amount of physical or mental tension.
- A sedentary way of life.
- Tobacco usage, alcohol abuse, and drug use are all examples of bad habits.
- An autoimmune condition or the use of immune-suppressing medicines to treat an illness is a red flag.
- Environmental toxicity, antibiotic or drug usage, and chemical exposure are all factors.
- NSAID pain relievers, aspirin, steroids, birth control pills or other hormone replacement therapies, and nicotine-containing pharmaceuticals are all examples of medications that might interfere with digestion.
Problems With Traditional GERD Treatments?
Unfortunately, studies demonstrate that proton pump inhibitors for GERD are unsuccessful in most individuals with non-erosive GERD. Even if symptoms disappear, this does not always imply that the fundamental harm is being repaired.
Doctors often diagnose GERD based on a combination of clinical symptoms, responsiveness to acid suppression, upper endoscopy, and esophageal pH monitoring. When GERD is identified, the majority of healthcare professionals will prescribe one of many types of GERD drugs, most of which will lower hydrochloric acid levels. However, to be clear, these drugs do not address the underlying causes of GERD (poor digestive and immune system functioning). Typical GERD drugs include:
- Tums, Maalox, Mylanta, and Rolaids are examples of antacids.
- Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid, and Zantac are H2 acid blockers. These seem to operate, at least in the short term, by partly inhibiting acid production.
- Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium are examples of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These are used in the hopes of fully stopping the formation of stomach acid. These medications are widely prescribed, and big moneymakers in the pharmaceutical industry are consistently placed in the top five prescription categories.
- Most people may be well controlled with pharmacological treatment and lifestyle adjustments, but anti-reflux surgery may be necessary for certain situations when these do not work.
Once you start on GERD meds like PPIs, your doctor is likely to suggest that you remain on them for years, if not eternally. Even though there are natural methods to relieve acid reflux or GERD symptoms without turning to medicines, using prescriptions or over-the-counter tablets is still the most common approach to relieve digestive difficulties for the long term, especially if physicians do not advocate lifestyle modifications.
Although the new study’s authors recommend that patients continue to take acid-suppressing medications for the time being — at least until newer drugs focus on reducing inflammation rather than holding back acid — it’s important to remember that standard treatment with proton pump inhibitors is not without risks.
Chronic use of PPIs for GERD symptoms, for example, might change a person’s microbiome, raising the risk of dangerous infections like Clostridium difficile, which are linked to poor gut health, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. Another alarming discovery, according to a 2013 research published in the journal Circulation, is that PPIs may raise the risk of cardiovascular disorders such as heart failure and high blood pressure over time. This is because PPIs seem to restrict blood arteries, potentially impairing circulation.
According to Suzy Cohen, RPh, a pharmacist and author, another issue is that PPIs raise the pH in your stomach, obstructing part of your body’s natural capacity to absorb critical nutrients and change the acid/alkaline equilibrium. This shift in pH, for example, may interfere with magnesium and B vitamin absorption, which are often targets of “drug mugging” GERD medicines.
Whether or whether you take PPIs or other drugs, be careful to address the true causes of acid reflux and GERD, including excessive levels of inflammation, to prevent symptoms from recurring. What does it mean to eat a GERD diet? Avoiding “common culprit” foods such as packaged foods with synthetic additives and foods stripped of their original nutrition might provoke responses due to allergies. Instead, adopt a GERD diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods to help repair the digestive tract and decrease difficulties.
On the GERD Diet, the Best Foods to Treat GERD Include:
Choose foods that are grass-fed, organic, and devoid of chemical pesticides and herbicides and that have few additional chemicals (read labels or eat “whole foods”). A plant-based diet rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory chemicals, water, and fiber may help you recover quicker in general. These are necessary for preventing free radical damage, maintaining good bacteria in the microbiome, preventing vitamin deficits, and maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Keep track of how much animal products you consume (dairy, meat, processed cold cuts, eggs, cheese, etc.). Animal products are more difficult to digest for persons who have GERD.
- Artichokes, leafy greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green beans, peas, cucumber, and fennel are among the many colors and variety of fresh vegetables available (just be careful of tomatoes, garlic, and onions).
- Veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are all high in fiber.
- Proteins that are low in fat (opt for lower-fat cuts if this helps reduce symptoms). Grass-fed lean meats, pasture-raised poultry, wild seafood, soaking legumes (if tolerated), and yogurt are good choices.
- Bone broth contains amino acids, minerals, electrolytes, antioxidants, and collagen, all of which aid in healing the gastrointestinal system.
- Apples, pears, melons, and berries are examples of fruits. Fruits like citrus and tomatoes might aggravate discomfort, so keep an eye on your symptoms.
- Many people swear by apple cider vinegar, a fermented substance that helps to control stomach acid.
- Algae, kelp, and spirulina are examples of sea vegetables. These may aid in the regulation of stomach acid production.
- Olive or coconut oil, avocado, coconut milk, nuts, and seeds like chia, almonds, or flaxseed are good healthy fats sources.
- Cultured vegetables, yogurt or kefir, and kombucha are all probiotic foods.
If you have GERD, you should avoid the following foods on your GERD diet:
- Processed dairy products (raw or fermented dairy may be tolerated), gluten-containing cereals and/or food items, sometimes eggs or nuts, and synthetic compounds present in processed meals are all foods that regularly induce allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities.
- Caffeinated and carbonated drinks: These are generally sweetened and include air, which may exacerbate GERD-related burp and gas sensations. Some patients have increased symptoms after eating egg whites or whipped cream, which may trap air within the GI tract.
- Beer, wine, and liquor may all add to symptoms depending on your unique sensitivity, especially when drank close to night.
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Foods with a lot of salt
- Fast food, cheese, processed meats, and fried dishes are all high in fat.
- Packaged snacks such as cookies, chips, cereal bars, and other refined grain goods
- Spicy dishes are sometimes consumed, such as those cooked with cayenne, cinnamon, chili pepper, hot sauce, and other spices.
- Fruits or drinks containing citrus
- Tomatoes, as well as tomato-based foods
- Garlic, onions, and peppermint are used in certain circumstances.
Other GERD Diet and Lifestyle Suggestions:
1. Eat Smaller Meals and Take It Slower
Rather than having 1-3 huge meals throughout the day, try to spread them out throughout the day. Take it slowly and attentively when you drink or eat, chewing your food well before swallowing. This can also help you avoid overeating, which may cause more stomach acid to be released. When eating, sit down and attempt to calm your digestive system. Avoid gulping or using a straw while drinking liquids to avoid trapping additional gas in the stomach. For the same reason, avoid chewing gum, smoking, or using straws between meals.
2. Avoid eating too close to bedtime
Allow at least several hours between the end of your final meal of the day and retiring to bed for the night. Many people’s GERD symptoms are exacerbated by lying down shortly after eating or bending over to exercise before bed. Therefore, it’s ideal to have a light meal approximately 3 hours before bedtime and then relax to help digestion.
3. Boost Your Water Consumption
Many people find that drinking water instead of coffee, sugary beverages, or alcohol helps alleviate GERD symptoms and improve digestion in general.
4. Avoid wearing clothing that is too tight
After eating, wearing tight clothing might put pressure on your abdomen and create intestinal discomfort. Wear loose-fitting jeans that enable you to move and sit comfortably.
5. Take Care of Yourself & Get Enough Sleep
Stress may wreak havoc on digestion by altering hormone levels, contributing to the use of tobacco or alcohol, disrupting sleep, and more. Find techniques to deal with stress more effectively. To feel calmer, try modifying your habit. Massages or self-massage, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, the use of anti-anxiety essential oils, and more sleep may all help. You might also go to a therapist to figure out what’s causing your issues.
6. Don’t Smoke and Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Compared to non-smokers, smokers have a much greater chance of acquiring GERD and other inflammatory illnesses. And for many individuals with GERD, even little doses of alcohol might cause symptoms. Alcohol dehydrates the digestive system, increases stress and inflammation, contributes to weight gain, and exacerbates symptoms such as gas, bloating, nausea, and insomnia.
7. Exercise Regularly
People who have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to get GERD. This is particularly true if they are overweight and eat a nutrient-deficient diet. When it comes to enhancing digestive health, there are several reasons to exercise: improved circulation, reduced inflammation, stress management, weight control, cardiovascular system strengthening, improved sleep quality, etc.
8. Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Obesity and GERD may be linked, according to research. If you’re overweight, make a conscious effort to improve your habits. Switching to a whole-food diet and increasing your physical activity are two examples. Limiting stress and regulating hormones in other ways are also beneficial modifications.
9. Raise Your Head of Bed
When sleeping, raise your head 6-12 inches to see if this helps to prevent acid reflux.
10. Discuss your medications with your doctor
Stopping the usage of some medicines, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or hormone replacement therapy. Consult your doctor to see if any medicines, including over-the-counter medications, are exacerbating your symptoms. Also, talk about what you could do instead.
- A mixture of green superfoods Aids in the body’s detoxification and the provision of nutrients such as fiber and magnesium.
- Elm that is prone to slipping (tea or capsules). Sliding elm has been shown in studies to aid with a variety of digestive issues by relaxing the GI tract lining.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Supports a healthy immune system and functions as an antioxidant.
- L-glutamine. This amino acid has been shown to help regulate acid production in studies, and many people report that it relieves indigestion. I suggest taking five grams of glutamine powder with meals twice a day.
- Aloe vera is a plant that contains aloe vera juice. As a result, the digestive system is soothed and lubricated.
- The root of licorice (also called DGL). May aid in forming a protective covering that protects the stomach and esophagus from harm.
- Probiotics. Healthy bacteria that help repair the digestive and immune systems are provided.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a kind of fatty acid found in the human body. Although it fights inflammation, many people’s diets are deficient in this nutrient.
- Turmeric with ginger. Both are anti-inflammatory herbs that may help with various stomach issues caused by inflammation.
- Digestive enzymes are substances that help the body digest food. These may aid in the complete digestion of meals, improved nutritional absorption, and the prevention of acid accumulation. Until your symptoms go away, try taking one or two capsules of a high-quality digestive enzyme at the start of each meal.
- Pepsin and HCL Some people find this helpful in preventing unpleasant symptoms. Before each meal, take one 650-milligram tablet.
- Psyllium husk, for example, is a fiber supplement. More fiber may help reduce pressure if you have difficulties going to the toilet or other digestive concerns.
- Pills containing hydrochloric acid. Regulating acid production with hydrochloric acid is one of the most common techniques to treat acid reflux and GERD. This, however, will be determined by the cause of your problems (low versus high acid production, inflammation, etc.). So keep track of your symptoms or get guidance from your doctor.
- Essential Oils are a kind of essential oil that is used to treat. According to studies, juniper berry essential oil includes more than 87 active component chemicals. Strong antioxidants, antibacterials, and antifungals are among the substances that may aid in the healing of the digestive system. Ginger, peppermint, and fennel oil are among other digestive-friendly oils. Before applying these oils directly to your belly and breast, dilute them in a 1:1 ratio with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Inhaling or diffusing oils in your house are two more methods to utilize them.
Because the symptoms of GERD may be confused with those of other digestive issues (allergies, IBS, etc. ), it’s a good idea to see your doctor and discuss treatment options, even if you decide to make lifestyle changes. In addition, make sure you don’t have any other ailments that might be causing your discomfort or malfunction.
Other reasons to seek professional advice immediately away include symptoms such as:
- Vomiting that lasts longer than a couple of days
- You have blood in your stool
- When speaking, there is a lot of hoarseness
- Asthma flare-ups after meals
- A constant ache makes it difficult to sleep when lying down.
- Exercising causes severe agony
- Breathing problems that occur mostly at night
- For more than a few days, you’ve been having difficulty swallowing
I also suggest asking your doctor whether you should be examined for H. pylori infection, which may cause ulcers and stomach aches.
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a prevalent digestive disorder. It damages the esophagus, resulting in symptoms including heartburn, coughing, and chest pains. In addition, when left untreated, problems such as esophageal scarring and, in rare circumstances, the development of esophageal cancer may occur.
- PPIs, for example, are routinely used to treat GERD. They do not, however, address the issue. They raise the risk of heart disease and intestinal infections, among other negative effects.
- GERD symptoms may be considerably reduced by following a GERD diet and adopting lifestyle adjustments. Eating anti-inflammatory meals, avoiding trigger foods, decreasing weight if needed, stopping smoking, exercising, and managing stress are just a few of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best diet for gastroesophageal reflux disease?
A: I would recommend a modified version of the DASH diet since it is an evidence-based diet.
Can you heal GERD with diet?
A: It is not recommended to use the traditional dieting method and weight loss for this condition. Instead, it would be best to consult with a doctor about your specific symptoms and how they might be able to help you better in terms of treatment. Watchful waiting may also be an appropriate option depending on what kind of GERD one has.
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