Gastric Reflux

Posted on November 22, 2010

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Gastric reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is characterized by the regurgitation of acidic liquid from the stomach into the esophagus.  The common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, burning or pain in the chest, increased or decreased appetite, fullness after eating, sore throat, and an acid taste in the mouth.

It is important to distinguish underlying cause for GERD before considering potential ways to alleviate.  There are two major underlying causes of GERD: 1) hyperacidity in the stomach causing access acid to overflow into the esophagus; and 2) hypoacidity which causes laxity of the valve between the stomach and esophagus which allows flow of acid into the esophagus.  As Nurse Practitioner, Marcelle Pick states on WomentoWomen.com, “most patients with GERD or acid reflux are suffering from too little acid, not too much.”

With this in mind, there are foods which general help people who suffer from gastric reflux to feel better and foods that are unquestionably detrimental for those with gastric reflux. Foods which need to be absolutely avoided are: citric fruits such as oranges, strawberries, mangoes, and tomatoes; fried foods, dairy, spicy foods, chocolate, heating foods such as garlic, onions, and ginger; heavy meats, specifically red meat; processed foods, and caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

The most beneficial foods across the board, regardless of the underlying cause, would be minimally-processed foods.  A diet rich with fruits and vegetables, and whole beans and grains will generally be of benefit. In each category, there are foods that are especially beneficial (Reference: Paul Pitchford):

Grains: brown rice, quinoa

Beans: Mung beans, black beans

Vegetables: carrots, celery, beets, broccoli, kohlrabi, cucumbers, cabbage

Fuit: apples, pears, cherries, blueberries

Seaweeds: kelp, dulse, spirulina, hijiki, arame, and almost any other seaweed

Food allergies/ sensitivities may be at the root of gastric reflux. This generally does not manifest as an allergic reaction but as a low grade reaction internally whose affects are not forthcoming.  If you think this is the case for you, it is best to eliminate any potential allergens for a 6-8 week period and then re-introduce slowly.

From FoodIntol.com:

Food Intolerance
(Food Sensitivity)

Prevalence

Dairy Intolerance (Dairy sensitivity)
(Lactose intolerance)
~75% 3 in 4 people
Yeast Sensitivity
(eg. Candida infections)
~33% 1 in 3 people
Gluten sensitivity
(eg. Celiac and Wheat sensitivity)
~15% 1 in 7 people
Fructose or Sugar sensitivity ~35% 1 in 3 people

If you do suffer from gastric reflux, it is most important to figure out whether you are hyper or hypo-acidic and get to the root cause.  The foods beneficial for one may not be beneficial for the other.  Please consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist to get to the root and heal from the inside out.

References:

GastroIntestinal Tract

“Healthy Eating”, Linda Page, MD, Phd, 1997

“Healing with Whole Foods”, Paul Pitchford, 2002

Digestion & Health

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