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March 26, 2008 at 3:34 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Diet and Exercise Tips for Managing GERD Symptoms

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

The Long and Short of GERD

GERD (which is short for “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease”), is a chronic condition that is otherwise known as acid reflux. This condition occurs when a backflow of stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. The symptoms of GERD are more common than a person may think. If the condition is left untreated, the symptoms can lead to more serious medical complications. The most effective way of managing the negative effects of acid reflux is making changes in dietary and eating habits.

How Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Works

The stomach acid produced during mealtime is used to digest the food we eat. However, if too large a meal is eaten, or is eaten too quickly, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) will relax at the wrong time and allow for strong stomach juices to build up and overflow in the esophagus. This causes the burning sensation known as “heartburn.” Without treatment, heartburn can cause several symptoms. These include:

  • Dyspepsia
  • Pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Fullness in the stomach
  • Nausea after eating
  • Regurgitation
  • Chest sensations or pain
  • Acid laryngitis
  • Dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Coughing and respiratory symptoms

The GERD Diet

Treating GERD can be as simple as  doing just two things: Diet and exercise. With diet, it is important to keep a food journal to log which foods are safe to eat and which foods should be avoided. Foods that are considered “safe” to eat are:

  • Fruit: Apples, bananas
  • Vegetables: Baked potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green beans, peas
  • Meat: Ground beef, steak, London Broil, chicken breast, egg whites, egg substitute, fish
  • Dairy: Cheese (feta, goat), cream cheese, sour cream, soy cheese
  • Grains: Bread (multi grain or white), cereal, oatmeal, corn bread, graham crackers, pretzels, rice (brown or white), rice cakes
  • Beverages: Mineral water
  • Fats and oils: low fat salad dressing
  • Desserts: Cookies, jelly beans, red licorice

It is important to stick to low fat or fat free meal choices. Foods to avoid are:

  • Fried foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato products
  • Coffee or carbonated sodas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Citrus fruit drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Pepper
  • Spicy foods

Exercising with GERD

It is important to know how to exercise when dealing with the symptoms of GERD. Extreme exercise, such a marathon running, high impact aerobics, and heavyweight lifting can make symptoms worse, especially if a person has eaten within two to three hours before this activity. Light- and casual-paced exercise, such as stationary bicycles, treadmills, yoga, and light weight lifting are beneficial for GERD patients, as it allows for weight loss. Such factors as staying upright for forty five minutes after a meal, as well as sleeping with a wedged pillow can also help to alleviate symptoms.

Check with a Doctor

There is no one set diet that will work for every person. Each diet will need to be tailored to meet a person’s needs, and keeping notes of any changes is important to prevent the onset of more severe symptoms. GERD is a serious condition, but with proper care, it can be controlled.


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