Best Foods for Acid Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common disorders of the digestive tract. The two most typical symptoms are heartburn and regurgitation of stomach contents into the back of the throat, but GERD is not just burning pain and a sour taste in your mouth. It causesmillions of doctor visits and hospitalizations every year in the United States. The most feared complication is cancer.
You start out with a normal esophagus. If the acid keeps creeping up, your esophagus can get inflamed and result in esophagitis. Esophagitis can transform into Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition which can then turn into adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer). To prevent all that, we need to prevent the acid reflux in the first place.
In the last three decades, the incidence of this cancer in the US has increased six-fold, an increase greater than that of melanoma, breast, or prostate cancer. This is because acid reflux is on the rise. In the United States, we’re up to about 1 in 4 people suffering at least weekly heartburn and/or acid regurgitation, compared to around 5% in Asia. This suggests that dietary factors may play a role.
In general, high fat intake is associated with increased risk, whereas high fiber foods appear to be protective. The reason fat intake may be associated with GERD symptoms and erosive esophagitis is because when we eat fatty foods, the sphincter at the top of the stomach that’s supposed to keep the food down becomes relaxed; so, more acid can creep up into the esophagus. In my video Diet & GERD Acid Reflux Heartburn, you can see a study in which researchers fed volunteers a high-fat meal—a McDonald’s sausage and egg McMuffin—compared to a low-fat meal (McDonald’s hot cakes), and there was significantly more acid squirted up in the esophagus after the high-fat meal.
In terms of later stages of disease progression, over the last twenty years, 45 studies have been published on the association between diet and Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. In general, they found that meat and high-fat meals appeared to increase cancer risk. Different meats were associated with cancers in different locations, though. Red meat was more associated with cancer in the esophagus, whereas poultry was more associated with cancer at the top of the stomach. Plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and nuts, were associated with a significantly decreased risk of cancer…
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