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Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a very common condition characterized by pain and burning in the chest that comes from the esophagus. It is caused by the acid that comes up from the stomach into the esophagus, irritating its lining and causing heartburn.

Causes of acid reflux

Between the stomach and the esophagus there is a muscle called esophageal sphincter. It opens when the food is ingested to let it pass into the stomach. However, in some cases, the esophageal sphincter becomes loose and does not open and close properly. Sometimes it opens when it is not supposed to and it allows the stomach juices, containing acid, and food from the stomach, to climb up into the esophagus.

Several factors can lead to this disease and they are generally related to the types of food eaten and to the eating habits. Eating large, spicy meals, eating late at night, going to bed or lying down after eating, drinking too much coffee or alcohol - these are all factors that can cause acid reflux.

Logically, acid reflux can be prevented or alleviated by making some dietary changes.

Diet recommendations for acid reflux

There are certain foodstuffs that are known for triggering acid reflux and they should obviously be avoided. They can vary from person to person but they generally include spicy and hot food, fried food, greasy food, citrus fruits, coffee, sodas, peppers, tomatoes, onions, cranberry juice, peppermint, chocolate, deli meat, bacon, sausages, ice cream, cheese and milkshake.

Now the question is, what foods are safe for consumption if a person has acid reflux? There are plenty of them and they include fruits like bananas, apples, peaches, melons and pears and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, fennel, celery, green beans, peas and similar.

As for the grains, bread is allowed, whether it is white or multi-grain, and so is bran, oatmeal, gram crackers, granola, rice and cornbread. Jelly beans, fat-free baked cookies and licorice are allowed when it comes to sweets, while foods of animal origin that can safely be consumed include fish, steak, chicken breast, egg white, fat-free cheese such as cottage cheese, fat-free yogurt and fat-free cream.

These foods will not cure acid reflux nor alleviate its symptoms. Those are simply foods that will not trigger the heartburn. If the problems regarding acid reflux are chronic and persistent, it is better to see a doctor. Acid reflux may be common but it does not mean it should not be treated. There are medications that can be taken to alleviate the symptoms, called antacids, but in some cases this disease may require a more serious course of treatment, where even the surgery is a possibility.

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