If you suffer from severe or frequent acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may be inspired to modify your diet. The traditional American fare doesn't include a lot of low acid breakfast foods. However, everyone's tolerance of foods is different.
Read more: The 10 Worst Foods for Acid Reflux
Be Aware of Beverages
If you like coffee or tea in the morning, you may be fortunate enough to tolerate these as part of a GERD breakfast. However, these beverages may potentially worsen symptoms.
According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, coffee can relax the band of muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, that serves as a barrier valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
When the LES relaxes, acidic digestive juices leak into the esophagus, causing inflammation and irritation. Other potential triggers to acid reflux symptoms include caffeinated beverages and drinks containing alcohol.
Milk is usually well tolerated, although low-fat or nonfat milk may be better options than whole milk. Alkaline foods — including plant-based milks such as almond and soy —may also reduce stomach acidity, although more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this approach.
Limit Fruits and Juices
Fruits and juices are common breakfast choices and, if tolerated, healthy additions to the morning meal. However, certain fruits and juices are considered acidic— such as citrus fruits, pineapple and tomato juice.
Consuming these in your breakfast for acid reflux might trigger symptoms by irritating an already inflamed esophagus.
The acid in these foods can also activate pepsin, the enzyme found in gastric fluids, which is responsible for protein breakdown. Any pepsin activated in the esophagus could damage its lining, according to the Triological Society.
Therefore, it's a good idea to avoid fruits or juices that aggravate your symptoms. Apples, bananas, avocados, watermelon, cantaloupe and pears are examples of lower acid fruits that may work better.
Watch Your Grains
Breads and cereals are staples in most breakfast meals. As a rule, these foods are well tolerated and do not aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
However, high fat choices such as croissants, doughnuts, sweet rolls and muffins may slow stomach emptying — and the contents of a full stomach are more likely to reflux into the esophagus, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.
High fiber breakfast choices, such as whole grain bread, whole wheat English muffins, bran cereal or oatmeal are better options — they are naturally low in fat, and the fiber helps move food more quickly though the digestive system.
If you increase your fiber intake quickly, you can temporarily suffer more gas and bloating, so it's best to gradually incorporate more fiber into your diet.
GERD Breakfast Proteins
Protein foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, peanut butter and breakfast meats are common breakfast choices. High fat meat products such as bacon or sausage may slow down stomach emptying, and this can worsen acid reflux by relaxing the LES and increasing acid production in the stomach.
Eggs are generally well tolerated, but are best prepared boiled, poached or cooked in a nonstick pan with little or no oil. Leaner meat options include Canadian bacon, ham, and turkey or chicken sausage.
Also consider plant-based alternatives such as peanut or almond butter, scrambled soft tofu, soy bacon strips and soy sausage links.
Read more: Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Acid Reflux
Follow These Precautions
Acid reflux and GERD are managed by a combination of medication therapy and lifestlye changes. While no foods are universally restricted for acid reflux sufferers, certain diet strategies may help ease symptoms.
Losing excess weight is an effective way to control and even prevent acid reflux symptoms, according to a March 2013 article published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology — a leaner, healthier breakfast is a good place to start. If any foods or beverages make your acid reflux worse, consider limiting or avoiding them. You can also minimize your symptoms by not lying down two to three hours after eating.
Is This an Emergency?
- American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: "Diet and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)"
- Triological Society: "Otolaryngologists Research the Role of Pepsin in Reflux, Lung Disease"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Diet Changes for GERD"
- American Journal of Gastroenterology: "Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease"
- Soy Foods Association Fact Sheet