GERD, also known as, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or more commonly, chronic acid reflux is a fairly common condition that affects many people. The condition is defined by acid containing contents continuously leaking back up from your stomach into your esophagus (the tube that leads from your throat to your stomach).
Acid reflux happens when the valve that caps the end of the esophagus fails to properly close when food lands in your stomach. This causes acid to wash back up through your esophagus into your throat and mouth, and cause that iconic sour taste associated with acid reflux.
It is not life threatening, but it can definitely impact your quality of life when it occurs frequently. You will find yourself constantly taking heartburn medicine and various antacids just to manage your symptoms. But these medicines are really more of a bandage. If the symptoms frequently reoccur, you may have developed chronic acid reflux or GERD and may need to be treated by your healthcare provider.
The Main Symptoms of GERD (chronic acid reflux)
There are a lot of symptoms associated with chronic acid reflux. The two most prevalent symptoms are heartburn and acid regurgitation. But there are other less common symptoms as well:
- Pain in the chest
- Hoarseness in the morning
- Trouble swallowing
- A feeling that food has been caught in your throat
- A feeling that your throat is constricted
- A feeling that you are choking
- Dry cough
- Bad breath
How To treat GERD (chronic acid reflux)
As previously mentioned there are quite a few medications that can be taken to treat GERD or chronic acid reflux. They often involve treating the symptoms of acid reflux and do not actually prevent the problem at its source. The best way to prevent acid reflux from occurring is to alter your diet in a way that does not trigger acid reflux in the first place. You don’t actually have to eat any specific foods to achieve this, rather you have to avoid certain foods.
Foods to Avoid to Prevent GERD
Many people may be surprised by this entry on the list. Mint is an herb noted for its cool and soothing properties. But while it may be great for your breath, it is not necessarily great for your acid reflux. This refreshing herb actually relaxes the muscles that are lining the esophagus, including the sphincter. This causes stomach acid and various other food remnants to flow back up the esophagus and stimulate the acid reflux. Avoid mint in all its forms, such as mint tea, mint candy, breath mints, mint ice cream etc.
Coffee is something you definitely want to stay away from if you are prone to experiencing acid reflux. The wonderful drink is naturally acidic which can cause your acid reflex to act up. The coffee itself is not the only problem; it is also the caffeine, coffee’s primary active ingredient that causes the acid reflux. Try to replace your morning coffee with some other natural stimulants, like apples. A single apple is several times more effective at waking you up in the morning than your average cup of caffeinated coffee.
The reason alcohol is bad for your GERD is one that may surprise you. Just like a glass of wine or two in the evening can relax you, it can also relax your lower esophageal sphincter which stimulates the production of acid in your stomach. Try not to drink too much alcohol of any kind if you suffer from GERD. Instead find other beverages to relax you.
Most people know that you should avoid spicy food if you are suffering from heartburn or acid reflux. It is one of the biggest triggers of GERD. This doesn’t just mean staying away from peppers; you should avoid any food that may contain capsaicin. This includes some particular cuisine cultures too, such as Mexican food, Indian food, or Thai food. Choose your diet carefully such that you avoid anything even moderately spicy.
Tomatoes are a fruit that are known for their acidic content. And just like coffee, its acidic content can trigger your acid reflux. Make sure to avoid all tomato-based products, including chutneys, sauces, salsa, ketchup, and marinara sauce.
This one can be difficult to give up, because chocolate is something most people love. Unfortunately, chocolate is both acidic and contains caffeine. If you absolutely have to eat chocolate, try eating milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate which tends to be more acidic.
GERD can be pretty annoying to have to deal with, and medicine will only treat the symptoms, not necessarily prevent acid reflux from occurring. The best way to prevent it is to eat a good anti-GERD diet, and make sure to avoid the foods listed here.
Also Read: GERD: Small Changes in Your Diet Matter