Comprehensive Guide of Foods For Acid Reflux Prevention
Acid reflux can be painful and inconvenient. Ignoring the symptoms of acid reflux could be dangerous, and may lead to complications. Fortunately, there are many foods for acid reflux that may help alleviate the symptoms. Acid reflux, if left unchecked, can cause the body to go into a state of stress. Stress is one of the main causes of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). AFS is the result of an overworked, prolonged NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. This guide introduces you to the foods generally deemed safe for those with acid reflux, and those you need to avoid and help you to prevent further painful heartburn incidents.
Foods For Acid Reflux Prevention
What is Acid Reflux?
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle situated at the entrance of the stomach. This muscle opens and closes to allow food through the esophagus and into the stomach. Acid reflux arises when your LES either doesn’t close all the way or opens when it is not meant to. When this occurs, acid produced in your stomach can rise up and enter your esophagus, resulting in “heartburn”, regurgitation, and other painful, possibly dangerous symptoms.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused by several factors. Most are associated with diet and lifestyle choices. This implies that lifestyle changes could in many circumstances lead to a reduction in acid reflux frequency.
Several of the key causes of acid reflux are:
- Eating heavy meals and laying down
- Eating/snacking too close to bedtime
- Certain foods such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, garlic, and spicy or fatty foods
- Beverages like alcohol, coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks
- Blood pressure medications like ibuprofen, and Advil
- And several other factors
It is important to take the necessary action in order to alleviate acid reflux. Leaving acid reflux unchecked may lead to conditions that are more severe, such as esophageal cancer, an overactive immune system, and constant stress. The latter may cause the adrenal glands to become overactive, possibly resulting in AFS. Fortunately, there are many foods for acid reflux that may help prevent, reduce, or reverse acid reflux altogether.
Although these foods may be of help for some people that suffer from acid reflux, they may not work for all. When searching for healthy ways alleviate acid reflux, keep your allergies and the advice of your healthcare practitioner in mind. By reducing acid reflux, you reduce the stress on your body, thereby reducing the burden on your NEM stress response. This is beneficial for adrenal recovery.
Top 13 foods for acid reflux prevention:
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast food and has the ability to absorb acid in the stomach. It is also filling, thus making it easier to avoid foods that may be harmful.
- Bananas and Melons – Though many fruits are high in natural acids, bananas and melons are not. Bananas, especially, make an excellent, handy snack to eat on the go.
- Green Vegetables and Salads – Green vegetables, including broccoli, green beans, celery, kale, lettuce, and others are low in acid. When adding a dressing to salads, opt for a low-fat option.
- Rice and Couscous – These complex carbohydrates are an excellent source of protein and fiber that are generally healthy and great foods for acid reflux prevention.
- Potatoes and Root Vegetables – Almost all root vegetables are good to eat although it is recommended to avoid onions and garlic.
- Fish – Baked or grilled fish is excellent. Do, however, stay away from fried fish.
- Unrefined Sweeteners – Sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, fruit jams, and compotes should be used sparingly as a replacement for refined sugars.
- Ginger – Often used for upset stomachs, it is a powerful plant that seems to alleviate the effects of acid reflux as well. Ginger is perhaps one of the strongest foods for acid reflux prevention. It is also thought to help the body to cope with stress. Curbing stress is key to avoiding the detrimental effects of AFS and other associated illness.
- Parsley – Parsley is a long-standing, traditional treatment for an upset stomach.Some people find it alleviates excess stomach acid. Add parsley to your salads, smoothies, or just have it as a crunchy snack.
- Fennel – A crunchy, licorice-flavored vegetable which can be added to salads. Some evidence suggests that fennel may improve overall digestion and has the potential to alleviate heartburn.
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is a potent plant with a long-standing history of improving digestion. Aloe vera can be used in cooking or taken as a capsule. It is most commonly taken in juice form.
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar – Taking one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar mixed in 4 ounces of water may settle the stomach and support digestion. This may be a fast-acting remedy to alleviate acid reflux flare-ups.
- Enzymes – Enzymes in capsule form are a great for a healthy diet in general and may even alleviate acid reflux in the long term. A major cause of acid reflux may be a constant lack of food sourced enzymes. Enzymes are necessary for digestion, but are not heat tolerant. Food cooked at over 116 degrees Celcius destroys naturally occurring enzymes. If the body does not get enzymes from food, it must make them itself. This process may increase stress that not only taxes the adrenal glands, but that may result in the deterioration of many other organs. Foods that lack enzymes are more difficult to digest and can increase acid in the gut. Taking enzymes may ease digestion, decrease heartburn, and reduce acid flare-ups.
Top 10 beverages and foods for acid reflux sufferers to avoid
- Chocolate – This can be tough for many to swallow (and not just because you have acid reflux), but chocolate is widely known as an acid reflux trigger. It is not on the foods for acid reflux prevention list. Chocolate is high in fat, caffeine, and cocoa, which in general is seen as an acid reflux agitant.
- Alcohol – Though it may temporarily help you ignore the pain of acid reflux, alcohol may worsen acid reflux. It can relax the LES while simultaneously causing the stomach to increase acid production. This combination can cause more frequent heartburn and worsen acid reflux.
- Carbonated Beverages – Any carbonated drinks are suspected of worsening acid reflux. The gas can increase pressure in the stomach, which may, in turn, result in acid reflux. Drinks to avoid include sodas, seltzer water, energy drinks, and of course, beer.
- Acidic Fruits and Juices – Of course, fruit is healthy in general, but once acid reflux sets in, acidic fruits and juices may agitate the LES and increase stomach acid. Fruits and fruit juices to avoid include oranges, lemons, grapefruit, cranberries, and tomatoes.
- Coffee and Caffeinated Teas – Coffee is acidic and may worsen acid reflux. Caffeine, in general, should be avoided if you have acid reflux, as it is an acid reflux trigger.
- Processed Baked Goods – Baked goods are often high in oils and refined sugars, and may have other acid reflux triggers like cocoa. Avoiding processed baked goods, refined sugars, and enriched flour may be helpful in avoiding acid reflux flare-ups.
- Fried Foods – Fried foods and food high in fats/oils in general cause havoc in the digestive system. Fried foods are heavy and can slow digestion. This may cause excess acid in the gut, which can move upward toward the esophagus opening. Fried foods’ long digestion period may also cause a pressure build-up in the gut that increases heartburn flare-ups. For these reasons, fried foods are not included among the foods for acid reflux prevention.
- Hot and Spicy Foods – This, for the lovers of spicy food can be hard to handle, but spicy foods are a trigger for acid flare-ups. Avoid spicy sauces, chili peppers, and even Indian food as they each can cause heartburn.
- Most Meat Products – Meat is one of the most difficult foods for the stomach to digest. Although meats low in fat (fish, lean chicken, and turkey) create less acid, steak and pork are, unfortunately for some, the worst to eat when faced with acid reflux. This is due to the increased acid produced by the gut in order to digest heavier meats.
- Dairy – Although a glass of milk may temporarily reduce acid reflux, like meat, dairy is hard to digest, and requires extra acid to do so. This is true not only for milk but for dairy products in general, including cheese and yogurt.
Acid Reflux and AFS/NEM
What is adrenal fatigue syndrome and the neuroendometabolic stress response?
Handling emotional and environmental stress is important for survival. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response is the body’s way of handling these situations. The NEM system is comprised of several parts including the hypothalamus and the pituitary and adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are perhaps the most impacted organs of the NEM system when constant stress is present. The adrenal glands are responsible for creating and regulating many of the hormones associated with the “fight or flight” response to stress. These hormones include adrenaline, cortisol, and others.
AFS is brought on by constant and prolonged exposure to stress, which causes a constant production of stress hormones. This constant production of stress hormones, along with other factors, can wear out the adrenal glands in time, which may lead to chronic fatigue and several other issues. It is important to take measures to avoid AFS because it is likely that most people will experience at least the early stages of it at some point in their lives.
Acid reflux and increased stress
Acid reflux makes digestion very challenging. The human body is already faced with a myriad of stress factors on a daily basis. Stress can lead to many diseases, and chronic stress can be detrimental to an individuals health. Acid reflux increases the stress the body faces on a daily basis and causes the NEM stress response system to work hard to alleviate the pain associated with heartburn. Not only can eating the right foods for acid reflux prevention alleviate acid reflux, it can lower the stress the body faces, decrease the work the NEM system has to go through, and thusly may even prevent the effects of AFS.
It is important to keep in mind that this guide of foods for acid reflux prevention, may not be enough to alleviate acid reflux. Furthermore, it is important to remember that acid reflux is not the only cause of AFS. It is but one of many stress factors that may lead to this condition.
Adrenal fatigue syndrome and acid reflux
AFS is typically brought on by constant, unrelenting stress. Stress comes from both our external environment and our internal circumstances. Acid reflux may not only cause pain from heartburn, bloating, and constant unprompted regurgitation, but may also contribute to constant, regular stress. Not only does acid reflux stress the body itself due to acid flare-ups, it can cause emotional stress as well. Once enjoyable activities like eating out, or going to the bar with friends and family may become unenjoyable events due to the constant dread of the next flare-up.
This constant unrelenting stress is just the environment that an overactive NEM stress response system needs for the onslaught of AFS.
Using these foods for acid reflux prevention may be the help your body needs to avoid excess stress.
Acid reflux is far from the only potential cause of AFS. Any stress factor that activates the bodies NEM stress response system may eventually result in AFS. Eliminating one stress factor, may not necessarily prevent AFS altogether. However, any steps that alleviate the stress the body has to deal with is one step in the right direction, and one step closer to preventing AFS.
Using this guide of foods for acid reflux prevention may be a very good way to reverse acid reflux, promote a healthy NEM system, and prevent AFS. Foods high in fats and acids cause stress on the digestive system. Choosing the right ones can help you avoid a wide range of health disorders, including acid reflux and AFS. Acid reflux, however, is not the only common stress factor that may lead to AFS. There are a wide range of stress factors that contribute to the condition. Avoiding excessive acid flare-ups are but one factor in avoiding AFS.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Are there foods for acid reflux that could improve your health?
For those afflicted with it, there are many foods for acid reflux that could help. Acid reflux can be an incredibly painful, stressful and inconvenient condition. Fortunately for those afflicted with the illness, there are easy solutions that only involve small changes to your diet.