If your esophagus becomes damaged over time – usually by stomach acid from frequent heartburn – the cells that line your esophagus can change into an abnormal state that puts you at risk of developing esophageal cancer. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, however, says that this condition, known as Barrett’s Esophagus, doesn’t always lead to cancer. You can stop its progression and heal your esophagus by eating certain foods.
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Vegetables and Fruits
All varieties of vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants, which fight harmful substances in your body called free radicals that damage cells like those involved in Barrett’s Esophagus. Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology (JSG) recommends healing your esophagus by eating all types of vegetables except tomatoes, which contain lots of acid that can aggravate your esophagus. However, JSG adds that you should avoid fried or creamed vegetables, as vegetables prepared in these two ways can aggravate your esophagus. Citrus fruits, such as pineapple and oranges, also can aggravate your esophagus, so you should avoid them. Other types of fruits – such as bananas, apples, peaches and berries – are gentle enough on your esophagus and contain antioxidants that can help heal Barrett’s Esophagus.
Bread, rice, pasta and cereal that are made from natural whole grains rather than refined grains contain selenium, which can help heal Barrett’s Esophagus, according to a "Nutrition and Cancer" article in 2000. People suffering from Barrett’s Esophagus who get selenium from eating whole grain foods are less likely than those who don’t eat selenium-rich whole grains to develop esophageal cancer, the article reports. The authors recommend eating any type of whole grain foods that are low in fat to help recover from esophageal damage.
Foods that have a soft texture can minimize further damage to your esophagus, helping you heal from Barrett’s Esophagus. Cleveland Clinic recommends choosing soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, applesauce, pudding, custard, protein shakes and cooked cereal, such as oatmeal, to help heal your esophagus after it has become damaged.
- The Society of Thoracic Surgeons: Barrett’s Esophagus
- Jackson Siegelbaum Gasteroenterology: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Diet
- "Nutrition and Cancer"; Waist-to-Hip Ratio, Weight Gain, and Dietary and Serum Selenium are Associated with DNA Content Flow Cytometry in Barrett's Esophagus; G.L. Moe, et.al.; 2000
- Cleveland Clinic: Esophagitis