Forty percent of Americans experience heartburn once a month, and 15 percent to 20 percent experience it at least once per week. When heartburn becomes a part of your everyday life, you may be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease. Also called GERD, this condition is the result of stomach acid escaping up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) keeps food in the stomach, but when the pressure of the LES is altered, it can open up and allow food back into the esophagus. By eating foods that maintain LES pressure, avoiding those that lower it and making simple lifestyle changes, you can keep your GERD under control.

Up the Protein

A diet that is high in protein will stimulate gastric secretion and increase LES pressure. This will keep gastric juices from making their way back up your esophagus. Be sure that your protein choices are low in fat, as high-fat meats will worsen GERD symptoms. Low-fat protein choices include baked or grilled chicken without the skin, fish, turkey, beans and legumes.

Increase Fiber

A diet high in fiber is associated with a decreased risk for Barrett’s esophagus, a result of chronic GERD. Total fiber, as well as fiber from fruits and vegetables, is associated with a lower risk and may be protective against the GERD symptoms. Aim to get between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.