Can You Eat Spinach on a GERD Diet?

Spinach makes a healthy addition to a diet for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD. Aside from containing vitamins and minerals, spinach provides you with dietary fiber to aid digestion. Smooth digestion helps avoid acid reflux. Experiencing acid reflux more than twice a week indicates GERD. Medication to reduce stomach acid production reduces or prevents acid reflux. An acid reflux diet, including vegetables, helps protect against symptoms.

fresh spinach leaves (Image: Anton Ignatenco/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating Habits

Avoiding certain trigger foods and heavy meals can reduce the symptoms of GERD. Trigger foods can vary among individuals, but common triggers include high-fat foods, fried foods, tomato-based products, citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages and alcohol. Trigger foods relax an esophageal muscle, so it does not contract tightly after foods enter the stomach to allow stomach acid backup into the esophagus. Large meals can delay stomach emptying and bring about more acid secretion, which increases the risk of acid reflux. Eating small, frequent meals instead of three large meals each day may reduce acid reflux symptoms.

Spinach in Diet

Spinach works effectively in an acid reflux diet, but you may want to avoid including it with heavy creams or sauces. Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology recommends most vegetables in its acid reflux diet, but suggests avoiding fried or creamy style vegetables. The fatty additives may encourage acid reflux. Enjoy fresh, steamed or lightly cooked spinach without high-fat additives in your meals. Include fresh spinach with your sandwiches on whole-grain bread.

Protective Substances

Minerals in spinach include selenium and zinc. Selenium may contain properties that protect the esophagus. Frequent acid reflux from GERD may damage cells and lead to Barrett's esophagus. This disorder can result in esophageal cancer. Zinc has been found to inhibit stomach acid secretion, according to researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Basel, Switzerland. The research, published in the August 2010 issue of the "American Journal of Gastroenterology" notes that doses of zinc in 12 volunteers and in lab animals resulted in reducing gastric acid secretion.

Choosing Foods

A diet to reduce or relieve GERD symptoms includes low-fat foods, vegetables, non-citrus fruit and whole grains, such as bread, pasta and cereal. Choose lean meat with all visible fat trimmed off, poultry without skin and fish. Select low-fat and nonfat dairy products. If you experience acid reflux following a meal with spinach, consider other foods or ingredients in your meal. To find your trigger foods, keep a food diary for a week. Take note of the foods you eat and the symptoms your experience afterward to find your own triggers. You can eventually eliminate offending foods from your diet.

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