If you suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it's important to know that your diet and eating habits can play a significant role in the onset of these symptoms. Here are 6 basic principles to prevent heartburn and reduce GERD:
1. Choose Less Irritating Foods
Certain foods can irritate your stomach and worsen the symptoms of heartburn and GERD. Avoid tomatoes and their juice, citrus fruits and their juices (orange, grapefruit, lemon), regular and decaffeinated coffee, tea, spices, alcohol, carbonated drinks, chocolate, and mint products.
2. Be Mindful of Fats!
Fats slow down the emptying of the stomach into the intestine and decrease the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. This increases the risk of reflux. Reduce your consumption of fried foods and processed foods high in fats. Opt for leaner sources of protein such as tofu, legumes, etc. Visit the Recipes section of our website for various delicious meal ideas.
3. Prevent Constipation
Constipation puts pressure on your abdomen, which can promote the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Adopt a fibre-rich diet and make sure to stay well-hydrated to regulate your bowel function and digestive health. Regular physical activity can also help prevent constipation.
4. Lose Weight to Relieve Gastric Pain
If you are overweight, especially around the abdomen, weight loss can reduce the incidence of heartburn. Excess weight puts extra pressure that promotes the upward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Consult our nutritionists for healthy weight management.
5. Split Your Meals
Consume smaller meals and frequent snacks. Large meals and overeating can increase the pressure in the stomach and promote reflux. Learn to recognize signals of satiety and respect them to avoid excess.
6. Modify Certain Habits
Some behaviours can worsen the symptoms of heartburn and GERD. Avoid smoking, especially after meals, as it weakens the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. Wait at least 2 to 3 hours after a meal before lying down. Wear loose-fitting clothing, avoiding tightness around your abdomen, to reduce the additional pressure on your stomach.
Preventing heartburn and GERD involves adopting food choices and behaviours that support healthy digestion. By following these 6 basic principles, you can reduce the incidence of these unpleasant symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Remember that each person is unique, and it's important to listen to your body and find what works best for you. If you continue to experience frequent heartburn or reflux symptoms, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional such as a doctor or nutritionist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized advice.
Take care of your diet, adopt healthy lifestyle habits, and make necessary adjustments to prevent heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease. You deserve to feel good and fully enjoy your meals without discomfort or pain.
Source : Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec. Troubles de l’œsophage. https://opdq.org/mnc/troubles-de-loesophage/