What is GORD?
When food and fluid is consumed, it moves down the oesophagus and in to the stomach. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is characterised by the movement of food particles, liquids and stomach acid, from the stomach back into the oesophagus. This is as a result of the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) not having an appropriate amount of pressure. The LOS is made up of a ring of muscle fibres. It is the role of the LOS to close off the opening from the oesophagus to the stomach so food and digestive acids cannot return to the oesophagus – as seen in the picture below.
GORD can cause symptoms such as heart burn, sore throat, acid taste and nausea following eating.
Regularly bringing food and stomach acids back up into the oesophagus can change the nature of the oesophageal cells, a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus. This can increase the risk of oesophageal cancer. Difficulty with swallowing and erosion of teeth can also occur over time.
- Alcohol consumption
- Over eating
- Hiatal hernia
- Some medication
Dietary management of GORD
GORD can be well managed by following an appropriate diet that avoids foods and activities likely to aggravate the condition. In some cases medication may be required in conjunction with an adjusted diet.
Lifestyle and diet tips to manage reflux
- Weight reduction if necessary
- Avoid foods that have a high fat content
- Avoid spicy foods, peppermint and spearmint
- Avoid swallowing air when you eat (like eating too quickly or chewing gum). The air increases belching and reflux
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid acidic foods and fluids, e.g. orange juice
- Cut back on coffee and other caffeinated drinks and foods. Remember, tea also has caffeine so strong tea may be a problem
- Avoid carbonated drinks which will increase gas production and reflux
Adjusting your eating habits:
- Eat smaller meals, more frequently. Instead of having 3 large meals in a day, have 5 smaller meals at regular intervals. Overeating will increase reflux and promote weight gain
- Eat slowly and chew food well
- Remain elevated after eating a meal
- Finish eating and drinking 3-4 hours prior to going to bed. If reflux is a problem over night, keep yourself slightly elevated with a pillow
- Reduce activities including lifting or bending after eating a meal as these can increase abdominal pressure
- Avoid wearing tight clothing whilst eating or directly after a meal
Foods that may aggravate reflux include:
- Full fat dairy products
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty meat, chicken skin, deep fried/ battered meats
- Tea- herbal tea is ok with the exception of peppermint tea
- Carbonated beverages
- Cream- based products
Cutting out a large range of foods is not advised and is not always necessary. Problem foods can be determined with the help of your dietitian.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have any questions about gastro-oesophageal reflux or other nutrition related issues, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!