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Foods to Avoid With Hernia

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods to Avoid With Hernia
Fatty meats, acidic foods, sugar and refined grains might exacerbate hernia symptoms. Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

A hernia develops when an organ bulges through a weak part of a muscle. Genetic muscle weakness and activities that lead to strains and sprains, such as heavy lifting, can contribute to their development. Inguinal hernias are the most common form, according to the National Institutes of Health, and affect your groin. Hiatal hernias, in which part of your stomach pokes through your diaphragm, increase your risk for acid reflux. A healthy diet, limited in certain foods, might help manage your symptoms.

Refined Starches

Fiber is an indigestible form of carbohydrate that promotes digestive and cardiovascular health. To prevent constipation and strain during bowel movements, which can worsen inguinal hernia pain, MayoClinic.com recommends a fiber-rich diet. Replacing low-fiber starches -- such as white bread, instant rice, enriched pasta and pretzels -- with complex carb sources, such as whole grains, sweet potatoes and legumes, is a useful way of boosting your fiber and overall nutrient intake. Because complex carbs enhance satiation, doing so might also enhance weight management, which is also important for reducing bowel strain.

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Fatty Foods

Fatty foods might relax the lower part of your esophagus, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, which can make way for acid reflux. Foods high in saturated or trans fats, such as red and processed meats, high-fat dairy products, fried foods and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil, might also contribute to inflammation and weight gain. To avoid these risks, consume modest amounts of healthy fat sources, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, avocados and salmon, instead.

Acidic Foods

The acidity of a food is determined by the amount of hydrochloric acid -- a highly acidic substance -- your stomach produces to digest it. Although acidic foods are harmless, and often nutritious, components of most diets, they can increase irritation and worsen acid reflux associated with hiatal hernias. If you're prone to acid reflux, the UMMC recommends avoiding acidic items, such as orange juice, caffeinated beverages and decaffeinated coffee. Other acidic foods include tart apples and cherries, pineapple, tomatoes and tomato products, vinegar and vegetables made with vinegar, such as pickles, sauerkraut, canned beets and artichokes.

Added Sugars

Added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar and honey, contribute calories and sweetness, but few nutrients, to many prepared foods and beverages. Eating excessive amounts of added sugars, which average Americans do, likely contributes to weight gain, according to MayoClinic.com. Sugary foods are easy to overeat and leave less room in your diet for beneficial fare, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. To avoid these risks, limit items particularly high in added sugars, such as regular soft drinks, candy, pancake syrup, jelly, frosting, frozen desserts and commercially-baked cakes, cookies, pies and pastries.

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