The muscle lining the lower esophagus (the tube carrying food from the throat to the stomach) opens for passage of food and liquid to stomach and otherwise remains closed so as to prevent stomach acid reflux from reaching the esophagus. When this muscle with such specialized function for some reasons gets weakened, stomach acid is pushed back into esophagus causing symptoms like heartburn, chest pain and regurgitation. If the stomach juice gets into the respiratory tract, cough, hoarse throat and respiratory problems can occur. This problem of weakening of the esophageal muscle known as Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is caused due to various factors including certain kinds of food.
The diet to prevent or control acid reflux constitutes basic foods like cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products. Some individuals may not tolerate the citric acid present in foods like tomato and orange and for them use of a vitamin C supplement is recommended. The recommended food groups for controlling acid reflux include all kinds of vegetables, fruits like apple, banana, melon and berries and low fat or fat free milk and yogurt. In fact, the diet should be free from fats and oils and fish, meat, chicken, bread, grains, soups, sweets and desserts in the diet should have low fat content. Among beverages, herbal non-mint decaffeinated tea is recommended besides plenty of water and fruit juices without citrus.
What to Avoid
The esophageal muscles are weakened by nicotine and so avoid tobacco. Hard candy and chewing gum should be avoided as they involve swallowing more air leading to burping and reflux. Whole milk, chocolate, fast foods and oily, creamed, fried or fatty foods aggravate the reflux condition and hence need to be avoided. Taking caffeinated or citrus foods and drinks should also be limited as they irritate the esophagus inflammation. Cream-based soups, carbonated beverages and foods like sausage and bacon need to be kept out of the acid influx preventive diet.