Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a lasting situation where the acid from the stomach comes up into the oesophagus.
Several people occasionally experience gastro-oesophageal reflux (GER). However, if a person experiences persistent acid reflux that occurs more than twice a week, GERD may be diagnosed. In other words, GERD is a long-term, regular occurrence of GER.
What are the acid reflux foods to avoid in GERD?
There are certain foods and beverages that can exacerbate GERD symptoms, together with heartburn and a sour taste from regurgitation.
Some foods to avoid in GERD include:
- Carbonated beverages.
- Citrus fruits and juices.
- Tomatoes and tomato-based foods.
- Spicy foods.
- Fatty foods.
- Fried foods.
- French fries.
- Deep-fried onion rings.
- Potato chips.
- Ice cream.
- High fat sour cream.
- High fat creamy salad dressings.
- Creamy sauces and dips.
- High-fat cuts of red meat, like marbled sirloin or prime rib.
- Spicy foods: Cause abdominal pain and burning symptoms.
Items such as fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint and alcohol are thought to worsen GERD symptoms by means of relaxing the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the oesophagus. This enables contents from the stomach to enter the oesophagus, thereby causing heartburn.
Items such as tomatoes and citrus fruits are believed to aggravate GERD symptoms by increasing the acidity of the stomach. They are also capable of irritating the damaged lining of the oesophagus.
Carbonated beverages can increase the acidity along with the pressure in the stomach, thereby making it much easier for stomach acid to push through the lower oesophageal sphincter and flow up into the oesophagus.
Chocolate may prove to be one of the worst foods for people with GERD since it contains high levels of fat as well as caffeine.
Fatty foods are also problematic. Examples include high-fat dairy products, fatty cuts of meat and processed meats like hot dogs and luncheon meat.
It should be known that different people will have different reactions to individual foods. So one should pay attention to the diets consumed, and if a food or beverage leads to heartburn, it’s best to avoid it.
What are the GERD symptoms?
Common GERD symptoms include:
- A sensation of burn in the chest (heartburn), usually after eating. This might be worse at night.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid.
- Sensation of a lump in the throat.
If night-time acid reflux occurs, the following might be experienced:
- Chronic cough.
- New or worsening asthma.
- Disrupted sleep.
What are GERD causes?
GERD is a result of frequent acid reflux.
When food is swallowed, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of the oesophagus, the lower oesophageal sphincter, relaxes to allow food and liquid flow into the stomach. Then it closes afterwards.
If the sphincter is weak or relaxes abnormally, the acid in the stomach can flow back up into the oesophagus. This persistent backwash of acid irritates the lining of the oesophagus, often triggering it to become inflamed.
Are there any risk factors for GERD?
Certain conditions can increase the risk of GERD:
- Protruding of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia).
- Connective tissue disorders, like scleroderma.
- Delayed stomach emptying.
Factors that can aggravate acid reflux are:
- Eating a large number of meals or eating late at night.
- Eating certain foods (known as triggers), such as fatty or fried foods.
- Drinking certain beverages, like alcohol or coffee.
- Taking certain medications, like aspirin.
What are the likely complications from GERD?
Over time, chronic inflammation in the oesophagus can lead to:
- Narrowing of the oesophagus (oesophageal stricture): Damage to the lower oesophagus by the stomach acid leads to the formation of scar tissue. This scar tissue narrows the food pathway, thereby leading to problems with swallowing.
- An open sore in the oesophagus (oesophageal ulcer): Stomach acid has the ability to wear away tissue in the oesophagus. If this happens, it can cause the formation of an open sore. An oesophageal ulcer can cause pain and difficulty swallowing, and bleed.
- Precancerous changes to the oesophagus (Barrett’s oesophagus): Damage by stomach acid can cause changes in the tissue lining the lower oesophagus. These changes are linked with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer.