Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach contents regularly back up into the digestive tract. GERD symptoms can be improved by including certain foods in your diet and avoiding others. This regurgitation is usually long-lasting and can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, including heartburn and pain in the upper abdomen. The severity of the condition is often related to diet and lifestyle.

GERD affects approximately 20% of adults in the West. Avoiding trigger foods and following other dietary advice can relieve GERD symptoms. This article explores foods that people with GERD may wish to exclude from their diet. It also discusses which foods to include.

Foods to eat

Although no specific food can cure GERD, some may actively improve symptoms. Until recently, researchers didn’t fully understand GERD, and there was no scientific evidence to suggest that a change in diet could improve symptoms. However, an older 2013 study of more than 500 people found that certain foods, like those high in fiber, may help reduce GERD symptoms. Similarly, a 2016 study found that following the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats, may help ease GERD symptoms.

Foods to Eat to Help Relieve GERD


Vegetables are low in fat and sugar. They are also a good source of fiber, a beneficial carbohydrate. Some suitable options include:

Brussels sprouts
green beans

Eating fruits other than citrus fruits is less likely to trigger GERD symptoms. Fruits are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, magnesium and potassium.

Options include:



Consume lean protein from low-cholesterol sources, such as:

lean poultry
And while egg whites are also a good option, egg yolks are high in fat, which can trigger GERD symptoms.

Also, when cooking protein, try using methods such as grilling, baking, or poaching, rather than frying.


A general rule for GERD is to avoid or reduce saturated fats from meat and dairy products and trans fats from processed foods and replace them with foods containing healthy fats. These include:

avocado oil
olive oil
oily fish
nuts and seeds

Whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber. Research links high-fiber diets to reduced risk of reflux symptoms. Here are some whole grain foods:

oat flakes
brown rice
wholemeal bread

Foods to avoid with GERD

Certain foods can trigger GERD symptoms. Since GERD is a digestive disorder, diet can often influence the symptoms of this condition. With this in mind, making diet and lifestyle changes can help treat many cases of GERD. Research from 2019 found a link between reflux esophagitis, which refers to inflammation usually due to GERD, and high intake of specific foods.

Foods that may make GERD or reflux esophagitis symptoms worse include:

– meat, which tends to be high in cholesterol and fatty acids
– oils and foods rich in fats, which can cause relaxation of the sphincter of the stomach
– high amounts of salt
– calcium-rich foods, such as milk and cheese, which are sources of saturated fat.


A 2021 review looked at the relationship between cow’s milk allergy and GERD symptoms in children. Researchers have found that children with the allergy often show symptoms of GERD after consuming cow’s milk. Ongoing research aims to determine whether this phenomenon also applies to adults. People who regularly experience discomfort or bloating after consuming dairy products containing cow’s milk may find that eliminating them from their diet reduces these symptoms.

Other Reflux Trigger Foods

Other foods are often the cause of GERD flare-ups. Doctors often recommend that people with this condition avoid them. These include:

– chocolate
– Mint
– fizzy drinks
– acidic drinks, such as orange juice and coffee
– caffeine
– acidic foods, including tomato sauce

Although there is little clinical evidence linking these foods to GERD symptoms, anecdotal experiences of some people with the disease suggest that these foods may make symptoms worse. However, trigger foods can vary from person to person. Therefore, people with GERD should try to eliminate each type of food from their diet to see if their symptoms improve. If these foods don’t make symptoms worse, they can add them back into their diet.

Beneficial diet in case of GERD

Experts recommend following a Mediterranean diet or similar eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to reduce GERD symptoms. Here are some sample meal ideas:

– oatmeal
– poached eggs on whole grain toast
– avocado on whole grain toast
– mixed green salad with wholemeal bread and hummus
– brown rice with steamed vegetables and salmon
– wholemeal bread sandwich with tuna and grilled vegetables
– whole grain pizza with tomato sauce, vegetables and low fat cheese
– baked chicken with whole grain pasta, tomato sauce and grilled vegetables
– grilled vegetable skewers with hummus dip and salad

What is GERD?

When a person swallows, food travels down the digestive tract to the stomach. A ring of muscle tissue called the lower esophageal sphincter contracts after passing food through the stomach. This prevents food from going back up the digestive tract. If the esophageal sphincter does not close properly, stomach contents can back up into the digestive tract, causing GERD. If GERD symptoms occur more than twice a week for longer than three weeks, doctors will classify the condition as chronic.

People sometimes refer to GERD as acid reflux or heartburn, but these are symptoms of the disease rather than separate conditions. Without treatment, GERD can lead to serious health problems, such as Barrett’s esophagus. In this disease, abnormalities develop in the cells that line the food pipe. In some cases, this can lead to cancer.

GERD symptoms

The main symptom of GERD is heartburn, a painful sensation that can range from a burning sensation in your chest to a feeling of food stuck in your throat. It is also relatively common to feel nauseous after eating.

Some less common symptoms of GERD include:

– hiccups
– burps
– wheezing or weak cough
– a sore throat
– voice change, including hoarseness
– regurgitation of food

Lying down immediately after eating can make symptoms worse. People sometimes find that their symptoms also get worse at night. In this case, they can often be relieved by elevating their heads while they sleep and avoiding food for at least two hours before going to bed.

Holistic Diet Strategies for GERD

A comprehensive GERD treatment plan should take into account factors other than basic dietary changes. For many people with digestive problems, restoring the balance of bacterial flora in the intestines can be beneficial. Consuming fermented and prebiotic foods can also contribute. The bacteria in these foods are called probiotics and can reduce digestive upset by balancing the digestive system as a whole. Prebiotics are fiber-rich foods that selectively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Foods containing natural probiotics include:

raw sauerkraut
raw kimchi
pickles and raw fermented vegetables
kombucha, a drink made from fermented tea.

Foods rich in prebiotics include:

Jerusalem artichokes
chicory root fibers
green bananas
the onions

People with GERD may find that probiotic and prebiotic foods can reduce symptoms. Probiotics help fight a strain of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which some scientists believe may be linked to GERD. However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Natural remedies that can help

Other natural treatments that may relieve GERD symptoms include licorice and ginger which can reduce symptoms, ease nausea, and improve gastric emptying.

Also, maintaining a moderate weight and keeping your head elevated while sleeping can minimize GERD symptoms.

Although people generally think of GERD as a chronic condition, it doesn’t have to be permanent. Changes in diet, lifestyle, and integrative treatments can help, along with medication. If these approaches are ineffective, surgery may be an option to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Proper treatment should prevent GERD from affecting a person’s quality of life. However, it is essential to always consult a doctor before changing a treatment plan.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.