Millions of Americans experience hyperacidity, more commonly known as acid reflux. Heartburn and indigestion are typical symptoms. You may have noticed that certain foods you eat trigger burning sensations in the chest, bloating or abdominal discomfort. The good news is, making adjustments to your diet helps prevent and relieve symptoms of acid reflux and the changes are easy to make. Get evaluated by your health care practitioner if you experience frequent heartburn, as you may have a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Hyperacidity occurs in two primary ways. The first is that the band of muscle that normally contracts to prevent stomach acid from flowing up the esophagus stops working efficiently. This allows digestive fluids from the stomach, which are acidic, to enter the esophagus. The result is irritation of the lining of your esophagus and classic symptoms such as heartburn. The second is that some people produce excess stomach acid. In either case, foods that stimulate stomach acid may trigger symptoms.
Foods to Reach For
Fruits and vegetables should be a staple of every healthy diet. If you have acid reflux, stick to lightly seasoned baked, broiled or steamed vegetables and fresh, canned or frozen fruit, except those on the red flag list. Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt and cottage cheese. Select fresh, lean cuts of beef, pork and poultry, as well as fish. Whole grains are another staple food, and if you're like most Americans, you aren't getting enough. Opt for low-fat whole grains like brown rice, whole oats, whole wheat and quinoa.
Foods to Avoid
Certain fruits such as tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines and grapefruit are common acid reflux triggers. Steer clear of these to lower your risk of flare-ups. Most vegetables are safe, but for some people, onions trigger symptoms. Any high-fat food is likely to cause issues. Avoid eating fried food or fatty foods. This means avoiding processed meats like sausages and hot dogs and regular versions of foods like pizza. Learn healthier ways to make the foods you enjoy. For example, make your own acid-reflux-friendly pizza using whole wheat dough, fresh greens, mushrooms and low-fat cheese. Skip the tomatoes or tomato sauce.
Certain beverages trigger symptoms in some people. Assess your tolerance of coffee, tea, mint-flavored beverages, alcohol and carbonated drinks. Peppermint and chocolate are also common triggers. Avoid consuming large meals and eat on smaller plates to help control your portions. If you smoke, take steps to quit, as nicotine triggers acid reflux. The time of day you eat may also cause problems. Avoid eating too close to bedtime, skip the midnight snacks and don't lie down immediately after eating. If you're overweight, losing weight may help reduce symptoms.