Exit

Health Condition

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

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.

  • Elimination Diet

    Experiment with your diet to find out what triggers the discomfort, spicy foods, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, and acidic beverages are all potential culprits.
    Elimination Diet
    ×

    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

  • Milk

    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.
    Milk
    ×

    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

  • Low-Carbohydrate

    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.
    Low-Carbohydrate
    ×
    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.
  • Low-Fat

    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.
    Low-Fat
    ×
    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

References

1. Gignoux M, Launoy G. Recent epidemiologic trends in cancer of the esophagus. Rev Prat 1999;49:1154-8 [in French].

2. Morgan AG, Pacsoo C, McAdam WA. Maintenance therapy: A two year comparison between Caved-S and cimetidine treatment in the prevention of symptomatic gastric ulcer. Gut 1985;26:599-602.

3. Kassir ZA. Endoscopic controlled trial of four drug regimens in the treatment of chronic duodenal ulceration. Ir Med J 1985;78:153-6.

4. Glick L. Deglycyrrhinated licorice in peptic ulcer. Lancet 1982;ii:817 [letter].

5. Das SK, Gulati AK, Singh VP. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice in aphthous ulcers. J Assoc Physicians India 1989; 37:647.

6. Markham C, Reed PI. Pyrogastrone treatment of peptic oesophagitis: analysis of 104 patients treated during a 3 1/2-year period. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1980;65:73-82.

7. Reed PI, Davies WA. Controlled trial of a carbenoxolone/alginate antacid combination in reflux oesophagitis. Curr Med Res Opin 1978;5:637-44.

8. Young GP, Nagy GS, Myren J, et al. Treatment of reflux oesophagitis with a carbenoxolone/antacid/alginate preparation. A double-blind controlled trial. Scand J Gastroenterol 1986;21:1098-104.

9. Maxton DG, Heald J, Whorwell PJ, Haboubi NY. Controlled trial of pyrogastrone and cimetidine in the treatment of reflux oesophagitis. Gut 1990;31:351-4.

10. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

11. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium-aluminum antacid gel. J Int Med Res 1980;8:300-3.

12. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

13. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

14. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium-aluminum antacid gel. J Int Med Res 1980;8:300-3.

15. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

16. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium-aluminum antacid gel. J Int Med Res 1980;8:300-3.

17. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373-4.

18. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium-aluminum antacid gel. J Int Med Res 1980;8:300-3.

19. Sigmund DJ, McNally EF. The action of a carminative on the lower esophageal sphincter. Gastroent 1969;56:13-8.

20. Wright LE, Castell DO. The adverse effect of chocolate on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. Dig Dis 1975;20:703-7.

21. Murphy DW, Castell DO. Chocolate and heartburn: Evidence of increased esophageal acid exposure after chocolate ingestion. Am J Gastroenterol 1988;83:633-6.

22. Feldman M, Barnett C. Relationships between the acidity and osmolality of popular beverages and reported postprandial heartburn. Gastroenterology 1995;108:125-31.

23. Moneret-Vautrin DA. Cow's milk allergy. Allerg Immunol (Paris) 1999;31:201-10 [review].

24. McLain BI, Cameron DJ, Barnes GL. Is cow's milk protein intolerance a cause of gastro-oesophageal reflux in infancy? J Paediatr Child Health 1994;30:316-8.

25. Forget P, Arends JW. Cow's milk protein allergy and gastro-oesophageal reflux. Eur J Pediatr 1985;144:298-300.

26. Staiano A, Troncone R, Simeone D, et al. Differentiation of cow's milk intolerance and gastro-oesophageal reflux. Arch Dis Child 1995;73:439-42.

27. Iacono G, Carroccio A, Cavataio F, et al. Gastroesophageal reflux and cow's milk allergy in infants: a prospective study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1996:97:822-7.

28. Hill DJ, Cameron DS, Catto-Smith A, et al. Multiple food protein intolerance (MFPI) as a cause of reflux oesophagitis in infancy: results of a pilot study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;101:S89 [abstract].

29. Hill DJ, Hosking CS, Heine RG. Clinical spectrum of food allergy in children in Australia and South-East Asia: identification and targets for treatment. Ann Med 1999;31:272-81.

30. Nebel OT, Castell DO. Lower esophageal pressure changes after food ingestion. Gastroenterology 1972;63:778-83.

31. Becker DJ, Sinclair J, Castell DO, Wu WC. A comparison of high and low fat meals on postprandial esophageal acid exposure. Am J Gastroenterol 1989;84:782-6.

32. Penagini R, Mangano M, Bianchi PA. Effect of increasing the fat content but not the energy load of a meal on gasto-oesophageal reflux and lower oesophageal sphincter motor function. Gut 1998;42:330-3.

33. Pehl C, Waizenhoefer A, Wendl B, et al. Effect of low and high fat meals on lower esophageal sphincter motility and gastroesophageal reflux in healthy subjects. Am J Gastroenterol 1999;94:1192-6.

34. Ruhl CE, Everhart JE. Overweight, but not high dietary fat intake, increases risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease hospitalization: the NHANES I Epidemiologic Followup Study. First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Ann Epidemiol 1999;9:424-35.

35. Rodriguez S, Miner P, Robinson M, et al. Meal type affects heartburn severity. Dig Dis Sci 1998;14:157-9.

36. Castell DO. Physiology and pathophysiology of the lower esophageal sphincter. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1975;84:569-75 [review].

37. Stanghellini V. Relationship between gastrointestinal symptoms and lifestyle, psychosocial factors and comorbidity in the general population: results from the Domestic/International Gastroenterology Surveillance Study (DIGEST). Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1999:231:29-37.

38. Locke GR 3rd, Talley NJ, Fett SL, et al. Risk factors associated with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Am J Med 1999;106:642-9.

39. Alaswad B, Toubas PL, Grunow JE. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and gastroesophageal reflux in infants with apparent life-threatening events. J Okla State Med Assoc 1996;89:233-7.

40. Rodriguez S, Miner P, Robinson M, et al. Meal type affects heartburn severity. Dig Dis Sci 1998;14:157-9.

41. Halsted CH. Obesity: effects on the liver and gastrointestinal system. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 1999;2:425-9 [review].

42. Lundam L, Ruth M, Sandberg N, Bove-Nielson M. Does massive obesity promote abnormal gastroesophageal reflux? Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:1632-5.

43. Fisher BL, Pennathur A, Mutnick JL, Little AG. Obesity correlates with gastroesophageal reflux. Dig Dis Sci 1999;44:2290-4.

44. Wilson LJ, Ma W, Hirschowitz BI. Association of obesity with hiatal hernia and esophagitis. Am J Gastroenterol 1999;94:2840-4.

45. Merced CD, Rue C, Hanelin L, Hill LD. Effect of obesity on esophageal transit. Am J Surg 1985;149:177-81.

46. Fraser-Moody CA, Norton B, Gornall C, et al. Weight loss has an independent beneficial effect on symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux in patients who are overweight. Scand J Gastroenterol 1999;34:337-40.

47. Kjellin A, Ramel S, Rossner S, Thor K. Gastroesophageal reflux in obese patients is not reduced by weight reduction. Scand J Gastroenterol 1996;31:1047-51.

48. Kitchin LI, Castell DO. Rationale and efficacy of conservative therapy for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Arch Intern Med 1991;151:448-54. [review]

49. Galmiche JP, Letessier E, Scarpignato C. Treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in adults. BMJ 1998;316:1720-3.

50. Piesman M, Hwang I, Maydonovitch C, Wong RKH. Nocturnal reflux episodes following the administration of a standardized meal. Does timing matter? Am J Gastroenterol 2007;102:2128-34.

51. Shawdon A. Gastro-oesophageal reflux and exercise. Important pathology to consider in the athletic population. Sports Med 1995;20:109-16. [review]

52. Soffer EE, Wilson J, Duethman G, et al. Effect of graded exercise on esophageal motility and gastroesophageal reflux in nontrained subjects. Dig Dis Sci 1994;39:193-8.

53. Clark CS, Kraus BB, Sinclair J, Castell DO. Gastroesophageal reflux induced by exercise in healthy volunteers. JAMA 1989;261:3599-601.

54. Yazaki E, Shawdon A, Beasley I, Evans DF. The effect of different types of exercise on gastro-oesophageal reflux. Aust J Sci Med Sport 1996;28:93-6.

55. Ruhl CE, Everhart JE. Overweight, but not high dietary fat intake, increases risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease hospitalization: the NHANES I Epidemiologic Followup Study. First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Ann Epidemiol 1999;9:424-35.

Copyright © 2019 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com

Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.

The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.