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Diet for Barrett's Esophagus

author image Michele Turcotte, MS, RD
Michele Turcotte is a registered, licensed dietitian, and a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has more than 12 years of experience in clinical and corporate settings, and has extensive experience in one-on-one diet counseling and meal planning. She has written freelance food and nutrition articles for Trouve Publishing Inc. since 2004.
Diet for Barrett's Esophagus
Two young women drinking cups of coffee in a cafe. Photo Credit: Vision SRL/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Barrett's esophagus occurs when changes develop in the tissue that lines the lower part of the esophagus, where the stomach and esophagus meet. The condition usually develops as a result of repeated damage from longstanding gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Tissue changes can be a precursor of developing cancer of the lower esophagus, known as adenocarcinoma. Dietary guidelines for Barrett's esophagus are similar to those for GERD or chronic heartburn.

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Basic Guidelines

According to the Jackson/ Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website, having Barrett's esophagus requires only a few modifications and limitations to a normal healthy diet. Choose from a wide variety of healthy foods such as whole grains and cereals, nonfat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and poultry and fish. Some foods bother some individuals with Barrett's esophagus but not others. Keeping a food journal and/or tracking symptoms can be helpful in identifying foods that cause distress. Small meals eaten more frequently sit better than larger meals.

Acidic Foods

Foods that increase acid production can worsen Barrett's esophagus. The most common offenders are foods and beverages that contain spearmint or peppermint, chocolate and alcohol, particularly red wine. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can increase acid secretion. you might also need to eliminate citrus juices and fruits, such as orange, tomato, grapefruit and pineapple.

Other Foods to Avoid

Stay away from foods that are high in fat, such as fried and fast foods, whole-fat dairy products, oils, creamed soups or other creamed foods, registered dietitian Jennifer Rackley recommends. Carbonated drinks, such as sodas, also can cause additional distress. Spicy foods and tea might also trigger symptoms.

Nighttime Considerations

If you have Barrett's esophagus, don't eat anything within three hours of bedtime, Jackson/ Siegelbaum Gastroenterology recommends. Take a walk after dinner or simply remain upright for two to three hours before bed. Elevate your head slightly in bed, which can help to keep acid in the stomach. Use 4- to 6-inch blocks or a wedge support to elevate the head of the bed.

Weight Loss

Overweight individuals tend to have more problems with excess stomach acid and reflux or heartburn. Being overweight puts extra pressure on the stomach and the LES valve.Losing weight might help reduce the occurrence or intensity of acid reflux.

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