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  • Know Your GERD Diet: Foods To Avoid And What To Eat Instead

    One way to manage GERD is to change your diet.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Know Your GERD Diet: Foods To Avoid And What To Eat Instead
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  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    If you notice having a bitter taste in your mouth and a burning sensation in your chest after eating (also called heartburn), you're most likely experiencing acid reflux. If it happens all the time, you could already be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Then you should know the GERD foods to avoid.

    This is because, explains Dr. Ekta Gupta, a gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Diet plays a major role in controlling acid reflux symptoms and is the first line of therapy used for people with GERD." 

    GERD is what happens when acidic stomach juices, or food and fluids back up from the stomach into the esophagus, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAAI). It is a chronic type of acid reflux. "Chronic," meaning something that happens often.

    GERD foods to avoid

    There's a variety of food that causes heartburn, says Dr. Gupta, but there are certain types that you better be avoiding, such as:

    • High in fat
    • Salty
    • Spicy 
    • Acidic

    Dr. Gupta says the worst offenders include:

    • Fried food
    • Fast food
    • Pizza
    • Potato chips and other processed snacks
    • Chili powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
    • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
    • Cheese

    Other experts add these foods in the list:

    • Tomato-based sauces
    • Citrus fruits
    • Chocolate
    • Peppermint
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks

    Dr. Gupta explains, "Moderation is key since many people may not be able to or want to completely eliminate these foods. But try to avoid eating problem foods late in the evening closer to bedtime, so they're not sitting in your stomach and then coming up your esophagus when you lay down at night."

    She adds, "It's also a good idea to eat small frequent meals instead of bigger, heavier meals and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks."

    What to eat instead

    To alleviate your digestive problem, Dr. Gupta recommends incorporating into your diet the foods that are healthy for your gut.

    High fiber foods

    If you eat foods that are rich in fiber, Dr. Gupta says you'll feel full, so you'll not overeat. Having too much in your stomach also causes heartburn, she points out. Opt for these foods:

    • Whole grains (oatmeal, couscous, brown rice)
    • Root vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets)
    • Green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, green beans)

    Alkaline foods

    Alkaline foods give the opposite effect of acidic GERD foods to avoid, so they make the stomach strong and healthy. Examples include:

    • Banana
    • Melon
    • Cauliflower
    • Fennel
    • Nuts

    Watery foods

    Water counteracts the acid in the stomach that causes heartburn, that's why opt for these watery foods:

    • Watermelon
    • Celery
    • Cucumber
    • Broth-based soups
    • Herbal tea

    If you're already having a bout with heartburn, Dr. Gupta suggests to take these home remedies.


    Though dairy is widely known to make you bloat and therefore have acid reflux, Dr. Gupta says milk is also often thought to relieve heartburn. She hastens to add, though: "But you have to keep in mind that milk comes in different varieties — whole milk with the full amount of fat, 2% fat, and skim or nonfat milk."

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    She explains, "The fat in milk can aggravate acid reflux. But nonfat milk can act as a temporary buffer between the stomach lining and acidic stomach contents and provide immediate relief of heartburn symptoms." Another option is low-fat yogurt, which has the same soothing qualities along with a healthy dose of probiotics. These contain good bacteria that enhance digestion.


    Ginger is widely used for its culinary purposes and medicinal properties. It's also both alkaline in nature and naturally anti-inflammatory. To ease the irritation in your digestive tract, try sipping a cup of ginger tea (read here).

    Apple cider vinegar

    More research is needed to prove the effectivity of apple cider vinegar against acid reflux. But some people attest to the benefits apple cider vinegar brings to their gut health. Experts' advice is to add just a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water and drink it with meals.

    Lemon water

    While lemon is a citrus fruit, which makes it to the list of GERD foods to avoid, it can also help counteract acid reflux. Just add some lemon juice into warm water and mix with honey, which also offers health benefits (read here).

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