One in five adults in Britain regularly suffer from heartburn. If your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, this may be because you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Correct treatment of GERD always begins with a visit to a healthcare professional to ensure an accurate diagnosis. It is important to recognize that chronic reflux does not get better on its own.
If you suffer from heartburn or have been diagnosed with GERD, you may need to make several lifestyle changes to ease your symptoms. Feeling better will be largely down to your diet. Though, before we get going with any edible heartburn remedies, it’s essential that we address a key contributor to battle acid reflux:
Doctors generally recommend weight loss as the first line of defence. While high-impact exercises such as running and weightlifting may make your symptoms worse, low-impact options could do the trick. These include:
- light jogging
- stationary biking
What to avoid
You’re probably bored of hearing what foods give you heartburn. The list can feel indefinite, as if there is no limit to the foods that you’re not allowed to eat. Before we get going with some heartburn-friendly foods, here is a reminder of the frequently recycled warnings of what to steer clear of:
- High-fat foods
- Caffeinated Tea
- Spicy foods
- High quantities of salt
- Carbonated beverages
- Whole Milk
- Citrus and tomato products
So, what’s left? You probably feel like all your favourite foods are a no-go. But just because you may have to change some elements of your lifestyle and diet, your heartburn doesn’t mean that you have to give up eating well.
What could I have for breakfast?
- high-fibre oatmeal: choose gluten-free oatmeal if you’re allergic or otherwise sensitive to gluten. Use unsweetened oats, eat hot or cold cereal with non-fat milk such as almond or soy.
- or bran flakes, or corn flakes cereal with non-fat milk.
- egg whites, but stay away from egg yolks
- apple juice, not orange juice
If you’re a coffee drinker, then this may be one of the hardest triggers of acid reflux to give up. And while decaf coffee is better, it is still acidic.
Try decaf green tea or ginger tea to ease the burn. These are both rich in antioxidants. Ginger tea has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems.
What can I have as a snack?
- whole-grain crackers
- reduced-fat cheese
- apple slices, bananas: These fruits are naturally low in acid and are often recommended to reduce reflux
- black raspberries: while also non-acidic, research studies have shown that black raspberries called blackcaps may protect the body from inflammation and aid in protecting against oesophageal cancer
What could I have for lunch?
- brown rice, couscous
- whole grain bread
- try a roasted turkey & avocado sandwich on whole-wheat bread
- raw vegetables
- vegetable soup – stock broth, rather than cheese or milk-based varieties
What could I have for dinner?
Whatever it is you’re eating, remember to consume moderate sized portions. If you suffer from heartburn, eat less food, more often. End the meal with a glass of water to settle the gastric juices.
- higher fibre pasta (like Barilla Plus)
- steamed vegetables
- potatoes and other root vegetables: these are great sources of healthy carbs and digestible fibre, but make sure to avoid adding onion and garlic during preparation, as these are common irritants.
- lean meats & poultry, but avoid frying foods.
Add grated or sliced ginger root to recipes to ease symptoms.
Chew gum, but not spearmint or peppermint. This increases saliva production and reduces the amount of acid in the oesophagus.
Keep good posture. Sit up while eating and avoid lying down for 2 hours after eating. Standing up and walking around after a meal helps to encourage stomach acid to flow in the right direction.
Avoid eating immediately before bed. When you lay down, it makes it difficult for the oesophageal tract to prevent stomach contents from travelling upwards. Each individual’s experience may be different, though, eating a full meal less than 3-4 hours before going to bed is not recommended.