Dr Clare Morrison

Article by Dr Clare Morrison

What Should I Eat If I Suffer From Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux – or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is also known as heartburn. It occurs when stomach acid flows into your oesophagus – a long, muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach – and irritates the lining. Acid reflux happens because:

  • Your stomach is very full
  • You have a weak lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) that’s unable to keep stomach acid in place
  • You have too much stomach acid

What should I eat if I suffer from acid reflux?

What you consume affects the amount of acid your stomach produces. It’s important to eat the right kinds of food in order to control acid reflux.

These include:

  • Vegetables – because vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar, they can help reduce stomach acid. Options include broccoli, leafy greens, cucumbers and asparagus.
  • Oatmeal – this is a great source of fibre, meaning that it can absorb acid in the stomach and reduce reflux symptoms. Other fibre options include wholegrain rice and breads.
  • Lean meats – chicken and turkey are low-fat and can reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Fish – oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and trout, are packed full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids – good fats! Other sources of healthy fats include walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil and avocados. If you reduce your intake of saturated fats and replace them with healthier, unsaturated fats, you can reduce acid reflux.
  • Noncitrus fruits – acidic fruits such as lemons are more likely to trigger acid reflux. Instead go for noncitrus fruits such as melons, bananas, apples, and pears.

And it’s also important what you drink! Here are a few beverages that can help reduce acid reflux:

  • Ginger tea – this naturally soothes the stomach and can help reduce the production of stomach acid.
  • Almond milk – this is neutral and can neutralise acidity. Avoid full-fat milk as this can worsen symptoms!

Would foods/drink should I avoid?

Certain foods and drinks pose a high risk when it comes to acid reflux. It’s important you learn how to avoid your triggers and narrow down the exact cause of your symptoms.

Foods to avoid include:

  • High fat foods – avoid fatty and fried foods – these can cause the LES to relax, meaning that more stomach acid builds up into the oesophagus.
  • Spicy foods – some studies say that spicy foods can trigger abdominal pain. However, the evidence of this is mixed. When consuming spices, be aware of your own spice tolerance.
  • Chocolate – chocolate contains caffeine which can cause acid reflux. Chocolate is also high in cocoa, which also triggers reflux.
  • Coffee – this popular beverage can trigger acid reflux as it relaxes the sphincter muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach that normally prevents acid from regurgitating. So if you’re a coffee fan and suffer from acid reflux, it could be a good idea to cut back on how many cups you drink.
  • Alcohol – alcoholic beverages can increase stomach acid production, worsening acid reflux.

It’s not just WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat!

If you suffer from acid reflux, remember that it’s not always about what you eat, but HOW you eat. Try to avoid:

  • Eating too much
  • Swallowing your food without chewing
  • Eating when busy

Before you eliminate foods, be mindful of how you eat. Sit down and take a few breaths before you start to relax. Eat slowly and chew your food carefully.

Other lifestyle changes

As well as the above, you can do the following to combat acid reflux:

Another thing you can do is to keep a food and symptom diary to help to track foods that are triggering you.

If you are suffering from acid reflux you may also want to consider taking omeprazole.  This is a generic drug used to treat acid reflux.

How to take omeprazole

It is best to take omeprazole before you eat and at the same time each day. Depending on your situation, the dosage will differ.

Common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache

Serious side effects include:

  • Kidney damage
  • Bone fractures
  • Stomach inflammation

For more information about omeprazole, contact one of MedExpress’ friendly team.

Dr Clare Morrison
Dr Clare Morrison
Experienced General Practitioner in Hampshire since 1995, with particular interest in Nutrition, Obesity and Smoking Cessation.
Originally published August 10 2018, updated October 06 2018