The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
- Experiment with your diet to find out what triggers the discomfort, spicy foods, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, and acidic beverages are all potential culprits.
Eating foods or drinking beverages flavored with spearmint, peppermint, or other spices with strong aromatic oils causes relaxation of the LES and can contribute to symptoms in people with GERD.19 Chocolate also relaxes the LES and can cause heartburn.20,21 Acidic beverages like juices, coffee, and tea have also been linked to increased heartburn pain, as have carbonated drinks, alcohol, and milk.22
- Infants who suffer from GERD may have an allergy to cows’ milk. Studies have shown that eliminating milk products from the diet improves symptoms for infants with milk allergies.
Infants who suffer from GERD may have a true allergy to cows’ milk.23 Some small studies estimate that milk allergy is a cause in about 20% of infants with GERD,24,25,26 but a larger study of 204 infants with GERD diagnosed cows’ milk allergies in 41%.27 For these infants, reflux symptoms improved with elimination of milk products from the diet. Some researchers advise a trial of cows’ milk-elimination in all infants suffering from GERD.26,25 Infants with a condition known as multiple food protein intolerance in infancy (MFPI) have been shown to have a high incidence of GERD and may only improve when amino-acid based formula is used in place of other formulas.30,31
- In one study, obese people with GERD who ate a very-low-carbohydrate diet saw significant improvement. Further research is needed to determine this diet’s safety and effectiveness.In a preliminary study of obese people with GERD, eating a very-low-carbohydrate diet (less than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day) for six days resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms of GERD. Additional research is needed to determine whether this type of diet would be safe and effective for long-term use.
- Although it is somewhat unclear whether lowering dietary fat is important for people with GERD, some people have found relief from symptoms when following a low-fat diet.Whether lowering dietary fat is important for people with GERD is somewhat unclear. Historically, low-fat diets have been recommended to patients with GERD because fatty foods appeared to be associated with increased heartburn and fatty foods had been shown to weaken the LES in both healthy people and people with GERD.30,31 A number of recent studies, however, have found no correlation between the fat content of a meal and subsequent symptoms of heartburn and reflux.32,33 Another study found that hospitalizations due to GERD were no more likely for people who ate high-fat diets than for those on low-fat diets.34 One study compared different fast foods for their likelihood to cause reflux symptoms and found that chili and red wine caused more symptoms than higher-fat foods such as hamburgers and French fries.35