GERD Diet: Milk and Yogurt
Most GERD diets suggest that you do not drink milk, even though it was once thought to be a treatment for acid reflux. Experts have since discovered that although milk and milk products can sooth acid reflux for the short term, it will actually stimulate stomach acid production in the long run.
Yogurt, however, is very good for digestion and many GERD sufferers say that it is a great treatment for heartburn and acid reflux. The live, active cultures or bacteria in some yogurt will help break up protein in the stomach, allowing the amino acids from this digestive process to be easily absorbed. While lactose intolerant people typically can’t have milk products, the bacteria in yogurt also make lactase, an enzyme that predigests lactose, which enables them to tolerate yogurt.
There are many other health benefits when eating yogurt. But for GERD sufferers the best advantage is that it is an alkaline that will help neutralize the acid in your stomach and since it also aids in digestion, the end result is that it can really help relieve acid reflux symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes and Hints to Help Fight GERD
Besides avoiding milk and adding yogurt to your diet, there are other things that can help you combat the symptoms of acid reflux or GERD.
GERD typically gets worse at night, when you lay down to sleep. It is important to know what you can do at this time to relieve the symptoms and be able to rest. Try these lifestyle changes and suggestions:
- Don’t eat several hours before you go to bed. Having a full stomach will allow the acid to build up and flow back through the valve between the stomach and esophagus. If you are already having symptoms of acid reflux before you lie down, eat a little yogurt or drink a glass of apple juice.
- Raise the head of your bed with bricks or by using a wedge pillow. This keeps the esophagus above the stomach, using gravity to keep stomach contents where they should be.
- Wear something loose to bed. You don’t want anything constricted around your stomach.
Meal time is another opportunity to make a few changes that will help alleviate GERD symptoms. Besides dietary choices which will be discussed below, there are other things you can do that will mitigate acid reflux. They include:
- Take time to eat. Relax and enjoy your food for at least twenty minutes. Stress can cause or increase acid reflux, so try to avoid controversial subjects when you eat and don’t watch TV programs that can cause or trigger stress. You should also slow down and chew your food completely. Sit up straight during your meal and for an extended period of time after you eat.
- Whenever you can, switch to four to six small meals each day instead of three large ones. This will keep your stomach from getting overly full and will allow it to digest your food in between meals.
- Don’t bend over or pick up something heavy for twenty minutes after you eat.
Being overweight can exacerbate GERD. Losing even a few pounds can help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux. Smoking can also cause symptoms of GERD or at times, make them worse.
Don’t wear clothing that is tight around your abdominal area. You can also chew gum that isn’t mint, to increase saliva production. This will decrease the acid in your esophagus.
GERD Diet Suggestions
Making dietary choices to combat GERD will help you decrease the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. If you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux you should avoid:
- Anything with fat. Switch to non-fat dairy products. Eat lean meat and stay away from fried foods. Decreasing your total fat intake will help minimize the gastric pressure put on the muscular valve that keeps contents in the stomach.
- Don’t eat chocolate because it has methylxanthine, which has been shown to relax the ring of muscles that make up the valve to the stomach, allowing stomach contents back into the esophagus.
- Coffee, whether it has caffeine or not, may promote acid reflux. As can other caffeinated beverages. You should also avoid carbonated beverages as they can put pressure on the stomach area.
- Citrus fruits and juices like oranges and juice, grapefruits and juice, lemons and lemonade, pineapples and juice will increase the amount of acid in your stomach.
- Tomatoes and tomato juice, as well as tomato products like spaghetti sauce, catsup or other products made with tomatoes can also increase acid and should be avoided.
- Spicy foods can also cause acid reflux and should be avoided.
For a GERD friendly menu plan and recipes, see here.
Often the types and amounts of foods that cause GERD can be very specific to individuals. If you have heartburn or acid reflux you should keep a food diary, noting what you eat, how much and if it results in symptoms of GERD manifesting after eating, what those symptoms are. This way you can figure out what foods cause your symptoms and therefore avoid them.