Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition that affects about 1/4 of Americans and can develop into a much more serious issue if ignored. Good news though: symptoms can be managed with lifestyle and dietary changes. Here are the worst foods for acid reflux...and what to eat instead.
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Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition where acid from your stomach travels back up the esophagus, which can cause heartburn and an acidic taste in your mouth. Typically, the lower esophageal sphincter keeps food moving towards the stomach, and prevents it from coming up. If the low esophageal sphincter is damaged, this can result in acid reflux.
In its worst form, acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD) which can lead to cancer. In order to keep acid reflux at bay it’s important to alter your diet. Acid reflux is on the rise, and 1 in 4 Americans report experiencing symptoms (1).
- Coffee and caffeinated tea (here are 5 vegan coffee alternatives to try instead)
- Alcohol (enjoy your night cap, heartburn-free, with these 10 vegan mocktail recipes)
- Fried foods and high fat foods*
*The esophageal sphincter tends to relax when in contact with high fat foods so fatty foods are not typically recommended. That being said, high fibrous fats like nuts and avocados are beneficial in suppressing symptoms. Highly processed foods tend to contain high levels of refined fats, and non-fibrous fats.
If you suffer from Acid reflux, it is best to avoid all animal products, even those low in fat. Those who consumed a diet lower in meat and higher in vegetarian foods saw less symptoms and were less likely to develop Acid reflux (1).
The good news is, if you like fruits, beans, veggies, nuts and whole grains you are in luck!
High fiber foods have been linked to lower rates of acid reflux disease. In fact, high fiber diets have been linked to lower rates of almost every disease including heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, and more. Fiber is found in anything that grows out of the ground AKA plants! This means fiber is found in everything but animal products. Refined plant foods like granulated sugar, white flour, many juices, and oils either contain very little or no fiber at all.
Whole foods that are plant-based are the way to go when it comes to preventing acid reflux.
Here are some of the best whole plant foods for avoiding acid reflux:
- Sweet peppers
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Ginger (try this oil-free miso ginger dressing recipe!)
Plant Foods: Always Healing
Funny enough, fiber also helps to ease acid reflux from occurring, even if you have already been diagnosed. The best source of dietary fiber is in its whole form, so load up on fruits and veggies as much as possible. Beans, whole grains, seeds and dried fruit contain high amounts of natural dietary fiber but really any whole plant based food will do.
If you suffer from acid reflux, you will know which foods tend to trigger you. If you’re finding symptoms at most mealtimes, you may want to consider a switch to a high fiber low fat diet, which is best known as a whole foods plant based diet. Learn to cook without oil, and avoid highly processed foods. Introduce as many plant-based foods into your diet as you can, and sip on some ginger tea after meal time.
Try to give yourself a few hours after you eat before laying down for the night, slow your eating, and take note of which foods tend to flare your symptoms. All in all, eat what makes you feel your very best! Food is supposed to nourish you, after all.
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- You don't have to suffer from acid reflux and heartburn! Eating more whole food plant based foods can help, especially oatmeal, lettuce, broccoli, brown rice, melon, ginger, and more!
- Cutting out animal products, particularly high fat foods, can help you avoid acid reflux.
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages, chocolate, alcohol, onions, garlic, citrus and tomatoes, can also be avoided.
- More tips for reduced acid reflux: slow down your eating, don't eat right before going to bed, take note of which foods flare your reflux and avoid them!
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.