Foods for Easing GERD—and How They Help

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), what you eat is just as important as how you eat.

When you have GERD, stomach acid flows the wrong way, back into your esophagus, the tube connecting your stomach and mouth. When this acid reflux happens, your esophagus gets irritated, and you may experience heartburn.

If you suffer from GERD, it's important to watch how and what you eat. Eating slowly, avoiding late-night snacks, and waiting to sleep right after meals are all ways to avoid acid reflux.

Choosing food wisely is also a key factor for minimizing the effects of GERD. Specifically, a low-fat, high-fiber diet that's heavy on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and includes some lean meats may reduce symptoms.

Here's a list of foods that can help decrease acid reflux.

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"Oatmeal in particular absorbs stomach acid," meaning that you'll likely have fewer issues with acid reflux with this food, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). If your mornings are hectic, overnight oats are a nutritious and tasty meal that can be ready the moment you wake up.

Other high-fiber foods with similar effects include brown rice and couscous.

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Fresh ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and is an age-old remedy for stomach problems of all kinds. You can get your daily dose of the root—2 to 4 grams (more than that can actually cause heartburn)—by steeping it in hot water to make tea, chewing a piece, or using it generously when you cook.

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Tomatoes and heavy sauces are a no-no for people with GERD—which rules out a lot of classic Italian dishes. However, for those with a craving for pasta, try thin, broth-like sauces. Also, using whole-wheat pasta will boost your fiber intake—high fiber consumption can minimize issues with GERD, according to a June 2018 World Journal of Gastroenterology study.

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High-alkaline, low-acidic foods such as bananas may help ease GERD symptoms by coating an irritated esophagus. Bananas are also high in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps food move through your digestive system.

Foods that are alkaline have a high pH and include melons, cauliflower, fennel, and nuts. The pH is a numerical scale (one to 14) that rates the acidity of a substance. Low numbers are high in acid; high numbers are low in acid. The middle, seven, is neutral.

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Root Vegetables

Sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets are several root vegetables that can reduce acid reflux. They are fibrous foods that will fill you up and prevent you from overeating, which often causes heartburn.

Other fibrous foods include green beans, asparagus, and broccoli.

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Watery Foods

Water can dilute stomach acid, making it less harmful. So, foods that have a high water content may lessen GERD symptoms.

These include vegetables such as celery, lettuce, and cucumber; fruits such as watermelon, mangoes, blueberries, and apples; broth-based soups; and herbal teas.

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Foods to Avoid

High-fat, high-salt, and high-spice foods will irritate your stomach. To play it safe, avoid fried and fast food, pizza, fatty meats, cheese, and processed foods and snacks. Foods that are otherwise healthful for you—such as citrus fruits and tomato-based sauces—that are high in acid may cause heartburn. Also, chocolate, peppermint, and carbonated drinks can exacerbate symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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