Alkaline Diet for GERD

Sprouts and other green vegetables may help protect against acid reflux.
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A sour taste in the back of your mouth or pain in your chest after eating can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. People with GERD can use medications for relief, but for many, changes in the diet can help ameliorate some or all of the symptoms. Eating alkaline foods is one approach that has come into prominence as a treatment for GERD.

Theory of Alkaline Diet

The idea behind the alkaline diet is that as foods are digested, they can produce either acidic or alkaline substances. Because excessive production of acid may be able to aggravate gastroesophageal reflux, eating foods that are alkaline --- meaning they can neutralize excess acid --- may lower the amount of acid in the body and help reduce reflux. A study published in a 2011 issue of the "Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology" looked at the effects of an alkaline diet on laryngopharyngeal reflux, a form of gastroesophageal reflux disease. This paper found that restricting acidic foods and emphasizing alkaline foods helped reduce the symptoms and clinical signs of this form of GERD, suggesting that adopting the alkaline diet can have a significant clinical benefit for people with GERD.

Foods to Avoid

If you are trying to use an alkaline diet to treat GERD, reduce your consumption of acidic foods. Limit different vegetable oils in your diet, including canola, corn and olive oils. Many grains are also acidic, such as corn, barley, wheat, rolled oats, quinoa and buckwheat, so most baked goods should be minimized. Many animal-based proteins, such as cheese, meat and fish, will also need to be avoided, as well as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, cashews and beans.

Suggested Foods

Although you should limit or avoid many foods if you are on an alkaline diet, plenty of options are available for every meal. Because many grains are acidic, breakfast could consist of fruits, such as grapefruit, apples, bananas, grapes, honeydew, oranges, dates, berries and pineapple. Other breakfast options include poached eggs and yogurt. Lunch options include chicken breast -- which unlike other meats is alkaline -- almonds and cottage cheese. Another option is a salad, which can be made using vegetables such as lettuce, leafy greens, peas, peppers, carrots, beets, mushrooms and parsnips. You can also eat these foods for dinner. Pumpkins, flax, sunflower and sprouted seeds are good snack options.

Other Dietary Changes

In addition to eating an alkaline diet, people suffering from GERD can make other changes to their diets to minimize symptoms. Eating smaller meals, for example, and avoiding eating before bedtime can reduce GERD symptoms. Certain foods, such as fatty/fried foods, tomato sauce, chocolate, mint, garlic and onions can also worsen GERD. If you are concerned about GERD symptoms, talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.