Last week, we discussed natural remedies for acid reflux and heartburn – commonly referred to as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). But there’s more to its treatment than addressing the problem – to make acid reflux heartburn go away permanently, you must change your diet altogether.
Luckily, a GERD diet designed to prevent acid reflux disease is usually pretty simple to follow and good for you for many other reasons as well. It’ll make you feel better and look better and help you get rid of your acid reflux permanently.
Eat High-protein Foods
First, increase your intake of high-protein foods like tofu, beans, and lean meats (if you’re a meat eater). For you, this may happen in the form of an egg-white omelet in the morning or an extra slice of grilled tofu on your lunchtime salad. I like a garbanzo bean salad.
Get Enough Fiber
Second, you should make sure you’re getting enough fiber to move things along quickly. Opt for low-acid vegetables such as green beans, cabbage, potato, and carrots. For dessert and snacks, choose fruits that have little potential to bother you, such as apples and bananas. Avoid citrus when possible; people that tend to have acid problems react strongly to most citrus products.
Get Lots of Calcium
Make sure you’re getting lots of calcium, from sources such as low-fat milk, soy milk, and low fat yogurt. Cheeses (for you non-vegans) like feta are also good, though most cheese has a high fat content. If you choose to eat frozen desserts, opt for yogurt-based ones. These, as well as regular yogurt, have the added benefit of acidophilus and other “good” bacteria to help the stomach do its normal thing.
Eat Low-fat Foods
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, do everything you can to eat low fat foods – in fact, cut out all the unnecessary fats from your life. Fats, especially of animal origin, cause acid reflux in people who are sensitive towards them (which in all reality include most of us!). An added benefit to this is that you’ll most likely lose weight, look better, and feel great.
Chew (Sugarless) Gum
Another suggestion is to chew some sugarless gum. This is a rather surprising thing, but chewing gum causes more air to get swallowed, which triggers a belching reflex and can help alleviate the pressure that causes acid reflux in most people (An additional benefit from gum is that it keeps your mouth busy, which means you won’t snack as much!). In addition, the saliva that your mouth produces while chewing gum washes the esophagus and helps bring down some of the acid.
Cut Down on Chocolate and Coffee
Finally, you should know that both chocolate and coffee increase the presence of acid in the esophagus – these are acid reflux foods. That means that to permanently get rid of your acid reflux and keep it from further damaging your esophagus, you should dramatically cut down on your intake of these substances. Also terrible for acid sufferers is smoking, although the relationship is indirect. It’s not the nicotine itself that causes acid problems, but rather, for some reason, smoking weakens the esophageal muscle. This causes the acid to come up more easily.
It’s important to treat your acid reflux before it turns into a permanent case of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD (sometimes referred to as GER). This is a painful and serious condition that’s connected to other things like ulcers. Take care of your diet now and prevent it from happening to you.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.