GERD stands for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. It is a very common condition that occurs when stomach acid enters the esophagus. There is a muscle at the end of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter.. This normally prevents the back flow of stomach contents into the esophagus. However, when pressure is higher in the stomach than it is in the esophagus, stomach contents can re-flux into the esophagus. Reflux can also occur if the lower esophageal sphincter is weak or relaxed.
More about GERD
Causes: GERD can be exacerbated by a variety of foods, and it can vary from person to person. However, some foods are common culprits (see the list of foods to avoid). Some medications can also contribute to GERD, like morphine and theophylline. People who smoke or are obese have a higher risk of experiencing GERD.
Symptoms: Symptoms can include pain (called “heartburn”, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, belching, ul-cers, and even aspiration which can result in pneumonia.
Treatments: First, if you experience GERD symptoms, consider what you ate. Often, symptoms can be alleviated by avoiding trigger foods. Avoid laying down shortly after eating (within three hours), and have an early dinner to avoid going to bed on a full stomach. If possible, work toward obtaining a healthy weight. Loose-fitting clothing can also be helpful, as can regular exercise. As a second-to-last resort, there are several choices of medication that your doctor can recommend (many available over the counter). For very severe cases, there are some surgical procedures available, including Nissen fundoplication and the Stretta procedure.
Common GERD-Exacerbating Foods
Mint (peppermint and spearmint)
Caffeinated coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks
High fat foods including 2% milk, whole milk, regular cheese and yogurt, fried meats, red and processed meats, fried foods like French fries or donuts, nuts and nut but-ters (including Peanut Butter), pastries
Limit added butter and oil to less than 2-3 Tbsp per day
Spices such as pepper (and others– varies person to per-son)
Recommended Foods for GERD
Milk and related products: Skim and low-fat milk, soy milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, nonfat or low-fat cheeses, low fat ice cream, sorbet
Protein foods: Temder, well-cooked lean poultry or fish; dried beans and other legumes, soy products
Grains: Any as long as they are prepared without add-ed fat, choose whole grains for at least half of daily serv-ings.
Fruits and Vegerables: Any as long as they are pre-pared without added fat, eat a variety of different colors.
Beverages: Caffeine-free, non-alcoholic beverages,; avoid anything with chocolate or mint