Ginger helps digestion by stimulating saliva and stomach enzymes.
If you frequently experience heartburn or indigestion, you probably know which foods typically cause such discomfort. While there are many common triggers, such as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages, there are also a number of good acid reflux treatment products that can help prevent your symptoms.
Heartburn and indigestion are symptoms of acid reflux caused by dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve between the stomach and esophagus, according to the University of Chicago Medical School.
In many cases, the symptoms of acid reflux can be controlled through diet and lifestyle factors. But without proper monitoring, complications can eventually lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to the National Institutes of Health. GERD is a more severe and long-term condition that includes unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux.
These symptoms of GERD include:
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Chest pain
- Chronic coughing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Excess saliva
- The feeling of a lump in the throat
- Shortness of breath
Taking care of yourself and following a diet can help keep acid reflux under control before it leads to GERD. If you’re living with any medical condition, you probably already have a list of foods to avoid with GERD-spicy foods like chocolate, sour fruits, and fatty foods. And you may have been told not to lie down immediately after eating and to eat slowly.
While all of these recommendations are important, it can be quite frustrating to hear that you can’t eat all the time. So, let’s focus on what you can eat. Here are the best foods to treat acid reflux, including foods that reduce acid reflux and foods that prevent acid reflux.
Whole grains and legumes
Whole grains and legumes are some of the best foods to treat heartburn, not only because they are good for overall health, but also because they tend to be higher in fiber than other foods. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, fiber can prevent acid reflux symptoms from occurring so frequently.
By getting enough fiber in your diet, digestion and stomach-emptying processes are faster. According to a study published in June 2018 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.
In other words, fiber can help prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from opening and can help speed up the process to reduce pressure and bloating in the stomach.
And whole grains are one of the main sources of fiber foods that are helpful for acid reflux. “Oatmeal and other whole grain products are soothing and easy to tolerate. They are rich in fiber and low in sugar, which can help reduce GERD symptoms,” says Abby Sharp, MD.
Other whole-grain foods to prevent or stop heartburn include:
- Whole grain and rye bread (the best bread for acid reflux is any whole grain variety, not white bread)
- Brown rice
Lauren O’Connor, who specializes in the treatment of GERD, also recommends these foods to avoid acid reflux:
- All dry beans such as beans
- All lentils
- Pigeon peas
Although no food cures heartburn, vegetables are a safe choice for GERD pain.
Vegetables are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, they are good for acid reflux and are among the best foods to fight heartburn because they are generally easy on the stomach. “There are many vegetables suitable for people with reflux,” says O’Connor, “and you need to get plenty of them to recover.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, experts recommend getting three or more servings of vegetables daily, with one serving equivalent to either 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw vegetables.
O’Connor recommends the following vegetables that are best suited for the treatment of GERD:
- Butternut squash
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes are also good for GERD. Sweet potatoes are good for heartburn because they are rich in fiber. Regular potatoes also help with heartburn for the same reason.
Indeed, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all vegetables can help you meet your recommended fiber intake, which is 14 grams for every 1000 calories per day.
Fruits with low acidity
Fruits are often considered off-limits on a reflux diet, but there are only a few that you should stay away from, such as citrus fruits and juices. Otherwise, fruits are generally associated with a lower risk of developing GERD, according to a November 2017 study in Research in Medical Sciences.
Acid reflux can lead to esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus. Keeping inflammation under control if you have acid reflux can help prevent reflux from progressing to esophagitis. According to Harvard Health Publishing, fruits are an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
O’Connor says that some fruits should not cause heartburn. Here are her recommendations for what to eat when you have acid reflux attacks (or to prevent it altogether):
In addition, blueberries, raspberries, and apples are also good for acid reflux, says Dr. Shahzadi Deveh.
You may have heard that fatty foods can trigger an attack of heartburn. And while this is true for foods rich in saturated or trans fats (such as fried or fast food, red meat, and processed baked goods), some healthy fats can actually have the opposite effect, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
Including moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your heartburn meals is part of a balanced overall diet that can help you manage this condition. According to the IFFGD, healthy sources of fat include:
- Oils (such as olive, sesame, canola, sunflower, and avocado)
- Nuts and nut butter
- Soy products such as tofu and soybeans
- Fatty fish such as salmon and trout
Eating good foods for heartburn isn’t the only piece of the dietary puzzle when it comes to relieving your symptoms – there are other natural heartburn remedies worth trying.
“To tame heartburn, it’s not just about allowing and avoiding lists, but also about portion size,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MD. “People who overeat in one sitting may experience more discomfort than those who divide meals and snacks into smaller portions throughout the day.”
Similarly, protein is an important part of any balanced diet. But if you have heartburn, choose carefully. According to the IFFGD, choose lean, skinless protein sources such as:
- Chicken or turkey without skin
Choose proteins that are grilled, boiled, fried, or baked rather than fried to further reduce the likelihood of reflux symptoms.
It may not be exactly a “food,” but identifying some of the liquids that are good for you on this list is very important. Although water itself does not necessarily have a healing effect, replacing other drinks (such as alcohol or coffee) with water can help relieve heartburn symptoms.
You just need to avoid sodas, as they have been found to worsen symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
According to a January 2018 study by Gut and Liver, in some people with GERD, bloating may not only be an unpleasant symptom but may also contribute to bloating. Although it may seem counterintuitive to get rid of bloating with fluids, this is exactly what you should do.
Drinking water can also help dilute stomach acid, says Elizabeth Ward, and this can be incredibly helpful if you naturally produce a lot of stomach acid.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, eating foods high in water and chewing gum 30 minutes after a meal can help neutralize and dilute stomach acid.
If you need more ideas for soothing liquids, O’Connor recommends ginger tea.
“Ginger helps digestion by stimulating saliva and stomach enzymes,” she says. “This eliminates excess gas and soothes the gastrointestinal tract.”
To make ginger tea at home, O’Connor recommends boiling a few slices of peeled ginger root in hot water on the stove. Then strain out the ginger pieces and let the liquid cool enough for you to drink comfortably.