If you’re dealing with acid reflux or GERD, you know how important it is to keep the foods you consume in mind. Some are incredibly acidic, worsening your symptoms and increasing the frequency of the flare-ups.
But other foods may have alkaline-forming properties. This means that eating this type of food can help soak up excess stomach acid and avoid heartburn and other symptoms.
Luckily, there are many eating plans you can switch to in order to alleviate your acid reflux symptoms. One of the most common ones includes the Mediterranean diet.
- A Mediterranean diet is based on healthy, alkaline-forming ingredients that don’t irritate your stomach and even help soothe your digestive tract, preventing acid reflux and GERD symptoms.
- In addition, this diet is rich in foods high in fiber, and it also limits your consumption of high-sugar and processed foods. As a result, your digestion is improved, and you don’t risk stomach inflammation that can potentially lead to heartburn and other issues.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan especially common in Mediterranean countries like Greece, France, Spain, Croatia, Italy, and surrounding nations.
It consists of natural ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats (nuts and seeds), and moderate amounts of fish, seafood, and poultry. It also avoids the consumption of foods high in sugar and those that are highly processed.
In short, this diet is based on traditional cuisines common to the regions mentioned above.
All of the foods included in this diet are incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense, which means that they contribute to good health. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients as well.
Following this diet can also reduce your risk of mineral and vitamin deficiencies, which are very common these days.
What’s more, various studies indicate that following the Mediterranean diet can help you fight many health problems, such as heart disease, kidney problems, and a weak immune system.
So, it might be a good idea to give this diet a shot, especially if you’re trying to improve your health or treat some type of health condition.
Can the Mediterranean diet be beneficial for acid reflux?
Acid reflux and GERD are both conditions characterized by unpleasant digestive system symptoms. These can include heartburn, cough, hiccups, a hoarse voice, bad breath, bloating, nausea, and even chest pain.
These symptoms are caused by gastric acid rising up and inflaming your esophagus. Many people experience occasional acid reflux-like symptoms, but some may suffer from a chronic version of this condition.
Studies show that diet is incredibly important for the treatment of chronic conditions, including acid reflux and GERD. Different diets work for different conditions, so it might take some time for you to find the one that works for you.
On the bright side, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most common eating plans for people struggling with acid reflux. This is because this diet consists of fresh ingredients, healthy fats, and lots of fiber-rich foods.
All of these foods contribute to your overall health, and they don’t irritate your digestive tract. So, following this diet can reduce acidity in your stomach and prevent acid reflux symptoms like heartburn and lower esophagus pain.
On the other hand, if your acid reflux or GERD symptoms are quite severe, simply switching your eating habits might not be enough.
So, if you feel that your symptoms are unmanageable, make sure to consult your doctor. You may need some prescription medication, especially if you’ve tried over-the-counter pills, and they don’t seem to help.
How can the Mediterranean diet help with acid reflux?
The Mediterranean diet has wonderful benefits for people with acid reflux.
Firstly, this dietary plan is based on fresh ingredients, most of which have alkaline-forming properties. This means that eating food on the Mediterranean diet helps dilute gastric acid, reducing the risk of heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.
In addition, the Mediterranean diet consists of plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, which are rich in fiber.
This macronutrient is beneficial for proper digestion, feeding the ‘good’ gut bacteria in your digestive tract, and preventing indigestion and constipation.
Fiber also helps soak up excess gastric acid, preventing it from rising up your esophagus and causing irritation. So, you’re at a lower risk of heartburn and chest pain.
The Mediterranean diet also limits your intake of processed foods, such as frozen dinners, fast food, and high-fat foods.
These have been linked with a higher risk of several chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and acid reflux.
So, by reducing your consumption of these foods, you can improve the health of your digestive system.
The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes eating lots of healthy fats like olive oil, olives, avocados, and fatty fish.
Research shows that healthy fats help you stay full after eating, reducing the risk of overeating. Overeating, in turn, can lead to weight gain, which is associated with more severe acid reflux symptoms.
As a result, consuming healthy fats in moderation is good for treating acid reflux and GERD.
Some experts also believe that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the need for taking prescription medication for acid reflux.
These days, many people are overprescribed medication, which isn’t good for their health, especially their kidneys and liver.
So, by finding ways to treat your symptoms naturally, you can avoid medication-related digestive system issues yet still experience relief from many unpleasant symptoms.
What’s more, the Mediterranean diet doesn’t consist of many calorie-dense foods. So, it can help you lose weight and contribute to weight management.
Plenty of research shows a close link between obesity or rapid weight gain and more severe acid reflux symptoms. So, by keeping your weight in check, you can avoid intense symptoms that get more frequent.
Finally, the Mediterranean diet is rich in foods that are full of antioxidants. These plant compounds help prevent oxidative damage, reducing your risk of various chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
In addition, antioxidants help fight against inflammation, which is often a contributing factor to acid reflux and GERD.
So, loading up on antioxidant-rich foods is incredibly beneficial for those suffering from acid reflux.
What foods from the Mediterranean diet are the best for acid reflux?
The Mediterranean diet is filled with foods that contribute to soothing your stomach. But some are much better for you than others if your goal is treating acid reflux.
The most common foods consumed in any type of Mediterranean diet are vegetables. They can be raw, steamed, boiled, or stir-fried. But make sure to avoid dousing them in too many oils and fats.
Almost all vegetables you can think of are alkaline-forming. This means that eating them doesn’t increase the production of gastric acid. So you’re less likely to develop symptoms like heartburn after eating.
Some of the best foods to consume for acid reflux in the Mediterranean diet include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
Most fruits are also alkaline-forming, so eating them can help treat acid reflux symptoms as well. Just try to avoid eating too many high-sugar fruits like litchis, pomegranates, mangoes, cherries, and grapes.
The best fruit you should include in a low-acid, acid reflux-friendly Mediterranean diet are:
Some whole grains might not be as alkaline-forming as fresh veggies and fruits, but they still have anti-acid reflux properties. The best ones include oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
They are rich in fiber, which is one of the most important nutrients in the fight against persistent acid reflux and GERD. They’re also rich in minerals that protect your digestive tract from inflammation, which is a common cause of more severe acid reflux symptoms.
Finally, consuming some poultry and fish instead of red meat can also benefit your digestive system health. But make sure to do so in moderation and avoid deep-frying these foods.
Which foods from the Mediterranean diet should you avoid for acid reflux?
On the other hand, if you suffer from a particularly severe form of acid reflux or GERD, you might want to avoid red wine. Even though it’s a staple in the Mediterranean diet, it’s quite acidic, so it can lead to heartburn, especially if you consume a lot of it.
It might also be best to avoid foods especially high in fat. It’s OK to consume them in moderation, but too much and too often can slow down digestion, forcing gastric acid to rise up your esophagus and causing heartburn.
So, while this diet is healthy as a whole, there are some foods you might want to avoid.
Some people also find that their symptoms worsen when they consume too much meat, even if it’s poultry. So, sticking to a more plant-based version of the Mediterranean diet can be better for some individuals.
In addition, some types of fish and seafood can also be rather acidic for sensitive people but not for all. So, you may want to start with a small amount of these foods and see how your digestive system is reacting to them.
Then, you can adjust your diet accordingly.
If your acid reflux is severe, it might also be good to limit your consumption of citrus fruits, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. While these are very healthy, they are acidic. So, they can trigger acid reflux symptoms in people sensitive to acidic foods.
Can the Mediterranean diet worsen acid reflux?
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy ingredients like veggies, fruits, leafy greens, and healthy fats. So, it’s very unlikely to worsen any acid reflux symptoms.
This is because this diet limits your consumption of processed and high-sugar foods as well as refined carbs and red meat.
All of these foods and ingredients are linked with more severe acid reflux and GERD symptoms. So, if you stick to the Mediterranean diet and avoid these, there’s no reason why this dietary plan should trigger any unpleasant symptoms.
Still, you might want to be wary of some ingredients common in this diet if you’re very sensitive to acidic foods.
For example, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and high-sugar fruits can be triggering for some people, especially in large quantities.
How closely do you have to stick to the Mediterranean diet to improve acid reflux symptoms?
The whole Mediterranean diet is healthy and rich in alkaline-forming foods. So, even if you stick to the 80/20 rule (80% of the time, you stick to the diet, and 20% of the time, you can consume other foods), you should be able to see improvement in your symptoms.
Strive to consume all the alkaline-forming foods that the Mediterranean diet offers. These include fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. You may want to avoid consuming too much poultry, especially fried, as it can worsen your symptoms.
Other than that, the Mediterranean diet can help you treat acid reflux, even if you don’t follow it perfectly.
In fact, a complex study with a large number of participants found that following a primarily Mediterranean diet (with small alterations) can be more beneficial than taking over-the-counter medication.
It’s always been known that changing your diet is beneficial for treating various health conditions. So, even if you sometimes have a cheat day, you can still reduce your need for meds and other remedies by following a Mediterranean diet.
In most cases, following a form of the Mediterranean diet can help you treat and deal with the symptoms of acid reflux as well as GERD. This is because this diet consists of lots of alkaline-forming foods that reduce heartburn and other symptoms.
The Mediterranean diet also limits your consumption of processed foods and high-food foods, which have been linked to a higher risk of acid reflux and GERD as well as other chronic health conditions.
So, trying out this diet can be beneficial for those dealing with acid reflux.