acid reflux illustration
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What Is It?

When stomach acid flows the wrong way -- back into the tube that connects your throat to your stomach (your esophagus) -- that’s called acid reflux. If it happens often and doesn’t get better, it’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Symptoms include chest pain, a cough, and trouble swallowing, especially when you lie down. Sometimes it can bring up bits of food or sour liquid into your mouth.

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woman searching in refrigerator
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Food Plays a Role

What you eat can have a big effect on GERD. There’s a long list of foods that you may want to stay away from, including chocolate, onions, acidic foods, and red meat. But other foods may help -- or at least not make it worse.

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chicken breast fillet
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Chicken Breasts

Lean and packed with protein, chicken breasts are pretty easy to digest. Just make sure to take off the skin and bake or saute them.  

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glass of water close up
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Water

This is your best beverage bet if you have acid reflux. Sugary drinks can irritate it, and alcohol and acidic juices can, too. And carbonated drinks can add to your gas and make you burp, which may make things worse.

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ginger tea with lemon
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Ginger

This root can help calm an upset stomach. Try some hot ginger tea -- without the caffeine that can make acid reflux worse. Or chew on some dried ginger -- just check the label to make sure it doesn’t have lots of sugar. That’s something else that can irritate reflux.

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watermelon wedges
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Watermelon

It’s a low-acid fruit that won’t trigger your symptoms. And nothing beats a big wedge of ripe watermelon on a hot summer day. Cantaloupe and honeydew are also good low-acid choices.

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cooking brown rice
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Brown Rice

Looking for a side dish that won’t aggravate your reflux? This is a complex carbohydrate, which means it takes longer to digest than simple carbs like white rice, pastries, or sugary drinks -- and that's better for reflux. The extra fiber, compared with regular rice, also helps.

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bowl of oatmeal and fruit
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Oatmeal

Breakfast is full of land mines: Bacon, sausage, pancakes, doughnuts, and greasy hash browns all can make things worse. Oatmeal is a better choice. It’s got plenty of fiber, will fill you up, and is hearty enough to give you energy for hours. But watch the extras: Cream, sugar, syrup, and dried fruit can all trigger symptoms. Go with fresh fruit instead.

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potato wedges
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Potatoes

These root vegetables are good, and others are, too -- carrots, turnips, and parsnips, to name a few. They’re full of healthy complex carbs and digestible fiber. Just don’t cook them with onions or garlic, because those can irritate your acid reflux.

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dipping bread in olive oil
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Olive Oil

Your body needs fat to work right, but fatty foods can make GERD symptoms worse. So you’ll probably want to stay away from things like butter or margarine. In their place, try a healthier fat like olive oil to see what might work for you. But you’ll want to have a light touch, because it does have fat and calories.

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Lettuce and Celery

Reflux can make you gassy, so skip foods that can make that worse, like beans and dried fruit. Mild veggies like lettuce and celery are healthy, low in calories, easy on your stomach, and they won’t cause more gas.

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baked fennel in pan
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Fennel

It has a mild licorice flavor and is low in acid, which can help soothe the upset stomach that can be both a cause and symptom of GERD. You can roast it and serve it as a main course, saute it as a side dish, or slice it raw and add it to a salad.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 6/11/2017 Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on June 11, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) Scott Bodell / Medical Images

2) Steve Prezant / Getty Images

3) margouillatphotos / Thinkstock

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5) Roman_Gorielov / Thinkstock

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7) Mizina / Thinkstock

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10) Zoonar/j.wnuk / Thinkstock (left) , bhofack2 / Thinkstock (right)

11) sugar0607 / Thinkstock

12) Zoonar RF / Thinkstock

 

International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: “Diet Changes for GERD.”

Mayo Clinic: “Is acid reflux the same as GERD?” “Bloating, belching and intestinal gas: How to avoid them.”

Medical News Today: “Fennel: Health Benefits and Dietary Tips.”

National Institutes of Health: “Dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): is there any correlation?” “Dietary Intake and Risk for Reflux Esophagitis: A Case-Control Study.”

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Ginger.”

University Hospitals: “Bloating, belching and intestinal gas: How to avoid them.”

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on June 11, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.