Managing acid reflux with healthy lifestyle changes

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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Do any of you suffer from heartburn or what others call gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)? Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD and may cause chest discomfort and an acid taste in the mouth.

Sometimes it can make you feel like you have a lump in your throat or like you always have to clear your throat. It can also cause a sore throat that you may feel when you first get up in the morning. It can cause you to have trouble swallowing or a dry cough.

Information provided by Mary Kinney Bielamowicz, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension nutrition specialist, provides insight into controlling your heartburn symptoms by choosing a healthy diet and following some of the guidelines below.

Sometimes the foods we eat can contribute to heartburn. For instance, eating fat causes our stomach to produce more acid, increasing the likelihood of heartburn. Also, some foods, like those containing caffeine or peppermint, are known to relax the muscles in our throats, increasing the likelihood for heartburn.

For drinks, choose those that are decaffeinated like herbal teas, water and juice. Avoid alcoholic and carbonated drinks. Decaf coffee should also be limited.

If you want soup, try clear broth soups low in fat. For fruits and their juices, choose low-acid fruits, like apple, grape, cranberry, banana, etc.

For dessert, choose low-fat options like gelatin, popsicles, frozen low-fat yogurt, cookies and cakes. Read the nutrition information on the food label, and select desserts with less than 3 grams of fat per serving. Try to eat less chocolate and desserts with icing, whipped cream or other forms of fat.

For veggies, eat steamed, or stir-fried (with little oil). Try to avoid fried and creamed veggies. For milk and dairy products, stick to skim or 1 percent milk products. When choosing grains, choose those made with low-fat ingredients.

When choosing your proteins, choose low-fat cuts of meat. Chicken with the skin on and meat with visible fat should also be limited. When cooking meat, fish or poultry, try baking, broiling, poaching or roasting. Eat less high fat proteins like sausage, bacon, fried meat and/or chicken, salami, bologna, etc. Remember, fat increases heartburn. Other foods to limit are spicy foods, fatty foods and those with peppermint.

If your symptoms persist and are severe, see a health care professional for treatment and medical advice. For more information, call the Extension office at 940-627-3341.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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