What to Eat for an Irritated Esophagus

Esophagitis is an irritation that damages tissues lining the esophagus, the tube through which food travels from your mouth to your stomach. Causes include severe acid reflux, vomiting, infections, consumption of caustic substances, allergies and some oral medications.Although various conditions can cause an irritated esophagus, the symptoms of pain, difficulty swallowing and nausea are the same and can be distressing. Although most cases of esophageal inflammation will heal over time, you can help the process by changing the types of food you eat. Your doctor may prescribe a soft diet until your esophagus heals.

Esophagus pain. (Image: Weerayut Kongsombut/iStock/Getty Images)

Soft Foods

Avoid mint tea. (Image: nilswey/iStock/Getty Images)

Doctors and hospitals often use an esophageal soft diet for both acute inflammation and following esophageal surgery. The diet is designed to make eating more comfortable and prevent food from sticking in your esophagus. On this diet, you avoid foods that are difficult to chew, swallow and digest. Most beverages are allowed, although carbonated drinks aren't recommended, and both very hot and very cold drinks may cause problems. In a few cases, caffeine, citrus or mint drinks may also cause irritation.

Dairy

Cottage cheese. (Image: Марина Пестерева/iStock/Getty Images)

Most dairy products are good for esophagitis, including milk, malted milk or milkshakes. If you eat cheese, select softer varieties like grated Parmesan, ricotta, cottage cheese or cheese sauces. Yogurt is beneficial, as long as it doesn't contain fresh fruit or seeds. If you can tolerate colder foods, low-fat ice cream may also be a good choice.

Fruits and Vegetables

Bananas and soft fruits are good to eat. (Image: Jitka Unverdorbenova/iStock/Getty Images)

Although you'll have to avoid most raw fruits and vegetables, you can eat canned and frozen fruits like peaches, blueberries and applesauce and also fruit juices. Certain soft fruits also make good choices including bananas, melons and avocados. Potatoes are fine, as long as you avoid the skins. You can cook or soften vegetables, such as carrots, lima beans, peas and squash, in soups and stews. Avoid cooked vegetables that are fibrous, tough or contain seeds such as broccoli, tomato, okra and celery.

Protein

Beef broth. (Image: Photosiber/iStock/Getty Images)

Use ground, tender meat including beef, pork and poultry, preferably softened with gravy, or any soft flaky fish without bones. You may need to puree the meat if you find that even the ground variety is too difficult to swallow. Most luncheon meats are acceptable, as are soft scrambled eggs and egg substitutes. Broths are also a good choice, but avoid stringy, dry or fibrous meats like stew meat, roast beef, meat with gristle or peppercorn, sausage or bacon.

Starches

Rice noodles are soft and gentle. (Image: Dušan Zidar/iStock/Getty Images)

Good starchy food choices include crackers softened in soup, cooked cereals without nuts or fruit, noodles, potatoes and pasta. Avoid all fresh bread, especially the crusts, rolls, muffins, biscuits, rice and popcorn. Although bread sounds like it would be a gentle food choice, it can get stuck inside a raw, inflamed esophagus.

Supplements

Honeysuckle flower. (Image: VitalyEdush/iStock/Getty Images)

A study published in October 2009 in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" indicates that honeysuckle flower, known scientifically as Lonicerae Flos, helps soothe reflux esophagitis. A report in the same journal in September 2010 notes that curcumin, a compound found in the spice turmeric, can counteract the impact of bile acids on esophageal epithelial cells. Marshmallow -- the herb and not the sugary snack - -was shown to help gastrointestinal inflammation, in a study published in March 2011 in the journal "Pharmaceutical Biology."

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.