GERD and Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid for Gastrointestinal Health

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscular ring separating the esophagus and stomach, becomes weakened or relaxes inappropriately. This allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, leading to symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and throat discomfort. The right dietary choices can help minimize the frequency and severity of these symptoms, promoting overall gastrointestinal health.

What to Eat for GERD:

Non-Acidic Fruits:

Opt for non-acidic fruits such as bananas, melons, and apples. These fruits are less likely to trigger acid reflux and can provide essential vitamins and fiber without irritating the esophagus.


Most vegetables are GERD-friendly, especially those that are low in acidity. Include a variety of leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower in your diet for a nutrient-rich and digestive-friendly approach.

Lean Proteins:

Choose lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, and tofu. These options are less likely to stimulate stomach acid production than fatty or fried meats.

Whole Grains:

Add whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats to your meals. These fiber-rich grains promote satiety and aid digestion without exacerbating GERD symptoms.

Low-Fat Dairy:

Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products like skim milk, yogurt, and cheese. These options provide essential nutrients without the added fat that can contribute to acid reflux.


Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the digestive tract. Consider incorporating ginger tea or fresh ginger into your diet as a natural remedy for GERD symptoms.

Healthy Fats:

Choose healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, and nuts. These fats are less likely to trigger reflux and can contribute to overall heart health.

Herbal Teas:

Herbal teas, such as chamomile or licorice tea, can calm the digestive system. Sipping on these teas between meals may help alleviate symptoms.

What to Avoid for GERD:

Citrus Fruits:

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are highly acidic and can exacerbate GERD symptoms. Limit or avoid these fruits to reduce the risk of acid reflux.

Tomatoes and Tomato-Based Products:

Tomatoes and tomato-based products, including sauces and ketchup, are acidic and can contribute to heartburn. Opt for alternatives like white sauces or pesto.

Fatty and Fried Foods:

High-fat and fried foods can relax the LES and delay stomach emptying, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux. Avoid fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, and processed snacks.


Chocolate contains compounds that may relax the LES and contribute to acid reflux. Limiting or avoiding chocolate can be beneficial for managing GERD symptoms.

Peppermint and Mint:

While minty flavors may seem soothing, peppermint and mint can relax the LES and worsen acid reflux. Opt for non-minty alternatives for flavoring.

Spicy Foods:

Spicy foods can irritate the esophagus and trigger acid reflux. Limit the consumption of hot peppers, spicy sauces, and dishes with strong spices.


Caffeine can increase stomach acid production and relax the LES. Limit or avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola, especially before bedtime.


Alcohol can relax the LES and contribute to the irritation of the esophagus. Moderating or avoiding alcohol intake can help manage GERD symptoms.

Lifestyle Tips for Gastrointestinal Health:

Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals:

Consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can prevent overeating and reduce the pressure on the LES, minimizing the risk of acid reflux.

Avoid Eating Before Bedtime:

Allow at least two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime. This gives the stomach enough time to empty, reducing the likelihood of nighttime reflux.

Maintain a Healthy Weight:

Excess weight, especially around the abdomen, can increase pressure on the stomach and contribute to GERD symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet is beneficial.

Stay Hydrated:

Drinking water between meals can help dilute stomach acid and promote healthy digestion. However, avoid drinking water during meals to prevent overfilling the stomach.

Chew Gum:

Chewing sugar-free gum between meals can stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralize stomach acid and reduce the risk of reflux.

Conclusion: Prioritizing Gastrointestinal Health with a GERD-Friendly Diet:

Adopting a GERD-friendly diet is crucial to managing symptoms and promoting overall gastrointestinal health. By making informed choices about what to eat and what to avoid, individuals with GERD can take control of their digestive well-being and enhance their quality of life. Working closely with healthcare professionals to personalize dietary recommendations and create a sustainable approach to managing GERD is essential. Individuals can navigate their journey towards better gastrointestinal health and symptom relief through mindful eating and lifestyle modifications.