Plant-Based Whole Foods Could Be the Secret to Managing Acid Reflux

If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, you’re not alone. Research suggests that more than 60 million Americans suffer from the condition at least once a month, while more than 15 million have to deal with it every single day. Heartburn, which is known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux, is uncomfortable and unpleasant. But for some, it might be possible to reduce symptoms with dietary changes. So, can a vegan diet help with reflux? 

What is acid reflux?

Most people have to deal with acid reflux or heartburn, every now and again. It’s named because of the burning sensation it creates in your chest, but it doesn’t actually have anything to do with your heart. Essentially, reflux happens when the contents of your stomach come back into your esophagus. 

“Acid reflux occurs when the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus weakens or relaxes inappropriately, allowing stomach acid to flow back up,” Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD for The Food Trends, explains. “It can be triggered by certain foods, obesity, pregnancy, and other factors.” If acid reflux happens frequently, it might be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can damage the esophagus, pharynx, or respiratory tract.

Other symptoms of acid reflux include a sour or bitter liquid taste in the mouth and difficulty swallowing.

Is a plant-based diet good for acid reflux?

Acid reflux can be caused by several factors. For example, for some, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine can trigger symptoms, while other people find that heartburn worsens when they’re stressed or anxious.

But many find that food is one of the biggest causes. Spicy or citrusy food, for example, is a stomach irritant for some and can be a common reflux trigger. Fatty, fried foods can also cause symptoms to flare up. According to Havard Health, this is because they “linger longer” in the stomach, which makes it more likely that stomach acid will leak back up into the esophagus.

Avoiding fatty, fried foods and opting for foods like whole grains, root vegetables, and green vegetables, all of which are staples of a whole food plant-based diet, can be helpful for those who suffer from acid reflux or GERD.

But that said, a vegan lifestyle is not a fix-all solution for the condition. This is because many vegan diets can include fried foods, processed foods, spicy foods, and citrus foods, too. “Some foods that are considered vegan, such as citrus or tomatoes, are also triggers of reflux,” Reisdorf says.

“Foods that are often considered better for managing acid reflux in a vegan diet include non-citrus fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based proteins like tofu and legumes,” she added. 

Eating smaller meals, eating slowly, and not eating two hours before bed may also help to manage acid reflux symptoms.

Vegan, non-spicy, non-citrusy acid reflux-friendly recipes

When you’re trying to get your reflux under control, it can be difficult to know what to eat. But avoiding spice and citrus doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Here, we’ve gathered a handful of suggestions of recipes that are delicious and may help keep reflux at bay. But remember: everyone is different, and we can’t guarantee that these foods won’t trigger you. “Each individual will react differently to certain foods, so it is best to avoid those that trigger reflux for you,” Reisdorf says. 

Finally, if you’re concerned about acid reflux, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms before you make major lifestyle changes.

VegNews.PumpkinCreamPenne.FeatureFrugal Vegan

1 Pumpkin Cream Penne

Fiber-rich pumpkins are generally a safe option for those with acid reflux. That said, for some, they could make symptoms worse, so if this is a sensitive ingredient for you, it goes without saying that this recipe is likely best avoided. For those who can stomach pumpkin, this creamy penne is hearty, filling, and nutritious—just avoid the cayenne pepper.
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VegNews.VeganEggSaladHannah Sunderani

2 Vegan Tofu Egg Salad

Tofu is low in fat and high in fiber, so for many acid reflux sufferers, it’s a great protein choice. Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in many ways, but this simple tofu egg salad is delicious and quick and easy to make. It also contains turmeric, which, research suggests, may help to relieve acid reflux thanks to an extract called curcumin. If you’re sensitive to alliums, leave out the chives from this recipe.
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VegNews.BananaOatWaffles

3 Vegan Banana Oat Waffles

Bananas are low in acid, which means they make a good snack choice for many acid reflux sufferers. In this recipe, they are combined with fiber-rich oats and maple syrup, which is generally considered a safe GERD-friendly sweetener option. 
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VegNews.MisoSoupMartin Nordon

4 Miso Soup With King Oyster Mushrooms, Quinoa, and Seaweed

Some research suggests that miso, a soybean-fermented paste, may reduce acid reflux symptoms for some people. Mushrooms and quinoa are also considered beneficial foods, but be mindful of the onions and garlic in this recipe if you are sensitive to alliums.
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VegNews.SavorySoccaPancakesSarah Nevins

5 Chickpea Pancakes With Balsamic Mushrooms

For a hearty savory pancake recipe, you can’t beat these pancakes. They’re quick and easy to make and will keep you feeling full all morning. Both chickpeas and mushrooms are considered safe foods for most acid reflux sufferers.
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