How diet could be worsening your GERD symptoms

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition affecting millions of individuals globally [1]. 

While many are aware of the role that certain foods play in triggering GERD symptoms, the relationship between diet and the worsening of these symptoms is complex and multifaceted.

GERD happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort.

Several dietary factors can contribute to the worsening of GERD symptoms. Understanding and addressing these factors is crucial for individuals seeking relief from GERD-related issues [2].

Fried and fatty foods

Consumption of fried and fatty foods has been linked to increased GERD symptoms. These foods can ease the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular ring that separates the esophagus from the stomach.

When this sphincter is relaxed, it allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, contributing to heartburn and irritation.

Citrus fruits and juices

While citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, their acidic nature can exacerbate GERD symptoms.

Citrus fruits and juices can irritate the esophagus and contribute to acid reflux [3]. Individuals with GERD may consider limiting their intake of citrus fruits to alleviate symptoms.

Tomatoes and tomato-based products

Tomatoes, a common ingredient in various dishes, contain high acidity levels [4]. This acidity can trigger reflux in individuals with GERD.

Tomato-based products, such as sauces and ketchup, should also be consumed in moderation to avoid worsening symptoms.

Chocolate and caffeine

Chocolate contains substances that can relax the esophageal sphincter, making it more prone to reflux. Additionally, caffeine, found in coffee and certain teas, can stimulate acid production in the stomach.

Those seeking relief from GERD symptoms should consume chocolate and caffeine sparingly sparingly.

Spicy foods

While flavorful, spicy foods can irritate the esophagus and increase acid reflux. Individuals with GERD may find reducing their intake of spicy foods beneficial to minimize discomfort and irritation.

Alcohol and carbonated beverages

Alcohol can relax the esophageal sphincter and contribute to increased stomach acid production.

Carbonated beverages, including sodas and sparkling water, can also induce reflux by causing the stomach to expand.

Limiting the consumption of alcohol and carbonated beverages may help manage GERD symptoms effectively.

It is important to note that individuals may respond differently to specific foods. While certain items commonly trigger GERD symptoms, individual sensitivities can vary.

Keeping a food diary and tracking how foods affect symptoms can be valuable in identifying personalized dietary triggers.

Adopting a GERD-friendly diet involves making mindful choices to alleviate symptoms [5]. 

Reducing the intake of fried and fatty foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages can contribute to managing GERD effectively.

Additionally, recognizing individual responses to foods through self-monitoring empowers individuals to make informed dietary decisions tailored to their unique needs.


The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.