Chicago Health | Homepage
Restrictive diet usually not necessary to control symptoms of GERD

Restrictive diet usually not necessary to control symptoms of GERD

Mayo Clinic Q&A

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’m 62 years old and am having difficulty keeping healthy weight on due to GERD and reflux. I am really confused about what foods and beverages I should avoid, and what foods will not make my reflux act up. What do you recommend mature adults who have this condition avoid, and what healthy food are best for my situation?

ANSWER: In the past, doctors recommended quite a few dietary restrictions for people who had gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. But more recent recommendations advise against such restrictive diets. In fact, eliminating the wide range of foods that could be associated with reflux is no longer the norm. Instead, we now suggest only avoiding foods that you know make your symptoms worse. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight is important because being overweight has been shown to increase reflux.

Acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus — the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. Occasional acid reflux is very common. Almost everyone experiences it from time to time. Acid reflux starts to become a problem when it happens frequently or if it involves large amounts of acid.

When acid reflux leads to frequent symptoms or complications, then it’s called GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn. Other signs and symptoms may include regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing and chest pain. In some patients, symptoms may be worse while lying down at night.

Over the years, a long list of foods has been associated with an increase in GERD symptoms. They include caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, spicy foods, highly acidic foods (such as oranges and tomatoes), and foods with high fat content. Doctors used to suggest that you completely take all of these foods out of your diet to help decrease GERD. But such a restrictive diet was hard for many people to follow. Research since then has also shown that taking away all these foods simply isn’t necessary to control GERD.

Instead, an individual approach works best. To help find the foods that make your symptoms worse, keep track of what you eat, as well as the severity of your symptoms. Then avoid the foods and beverages that seem to trigger your symptoms. Avoiding fatty foods is still recommended, however, because in addition to being a possible trigger for reflux, there is little nutritional value to these foods.

You can take a similar approach to healthy foods. Try to include a variety of healthy foods in your diet each day: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein. If you notice an increase in symptoms when you add something new, try to steer clear of that food and see if it makes a difference. As much as possible, focus on including healthy choices in your diet.

Although extra weight isn’t a problem for you, getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important for GERD control because excess weight can make reflux worse.

If you continue to have difficulty controlling your symptoms, talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend additional GERD treatment. A consultation with a dietitian may also be helpful to find foods that work well for your situation and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. — Marcelo F. Vela, M.D., Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz.

(Mayo Clinic Q & A is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to MayoClinicQ&A@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.)

(c) 2016 MAYO FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Plan ahead to cover retiree health care costs

Plan ahead to cover retiree health care costs

By Susan B. Garland, Kiplinger's Retirement Report When you draw up a retirement-spending budget, you're likely

Carbonated beverages not a health hazard, but don’t overdo caffeine

Carbonated beverages not a health hazard, but don’t overdo caffeine

By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: Do all carbonated beverages rob the bones of calcium? How about

Breast Cancer Statistics

Breast Cancer Statistics

Letter from the Publisher

Letter from the Publisher

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes

What Doctors Know: New survey offers inside look at risky behavior among today’s teens

What Doctors Know: New survey offers inside look at risky behavior among today’s teens

By Larry Myers and Bonnie Jean Thomas, WHAT THE REPORT FOUND whatdoctorsknow.com "When I was your age..." There's

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

December 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
November 27, 2016 November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016
December 4, 2016 December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016 December 10, 2016
December 11, 2016 December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016
December 18, 2016 December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives