Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where the acidic content of the stomach can flow back into the esophagus. This happens because the esophageal sphincter has weakened somehow. The lining of the stomach is built to be acid – proof, but lining of the esophagus is nowhere near that. The acid in the refluxed content will burn the esophagus, causing inflammation, pain, and eventually ulcers.
Once the food is chewed and swallowed, it travels form the mouth to the stomach. In there, it is soaked in stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCl, a very powerful acid) which further prepares it for ultimate breakdown in the intestines. Walls of the stomach secrete hydrochloric acid and it cannot damage them. To prevent this acidic content to flow out of the stomach, the end of the esophagus is equipped with a ring-like muscle (such muscles are known as sphincters) that encircles it and closes it when it contracts. Normally, it is contracted, and relaxes and allows passage of substances into the stomach only when we drink or swallow (or when we belch or vomit). However, the esophageal sphincter of many people has weakened and lacks the power to seal the stomach off. Acidic content can then flow back in the esophagus and wreak havoc on the esophagus.
The treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease is basically alteration of dietary habits, as some sorts of food and eating habits will provoke the acid reflux and these should be avoided.
One dietary trick is to eat alkaline foods. These foods can neutralize or reduce the acidity of the stomach content and thus reduce the aggressive properties of stomach content. This means that, even if a reflux does happen, your esophagus will not be soaked in acid, or will be soaked with less acid than before. Foods that are alkaline and that you might include in your gastric reflux diet include asparagus, artichokes, various cabbages, lettuce, onion, cauliflower, peas, radish, spinach, parsley, milk, eggs, carrots, cucumber, and others.
General acid reflux diet rules still apply. This means that you are not to eat hot and spicy food or food that is soaked with fat such as fried food. Avoiding caffeine or alcohol containing beverages is also important. Late meals are a sure way to trigger an acid reflux so eat your dinner early and avoid midnight snacks. Also, keeping your weight in check helps to control gastric reflux.