You Say Tomato, I Say GERD

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You Say Tomato, I Say GERDFor many people, there are very specific foods that aggravate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Macon is home to fabulous southern cooking, but certain foods used in scrumptious Southern fare are pretty much out of the question when it comes to preventing reflux. Spicy foods, garlic, onion and coffee are all on this list of forbidden favorites, but topping the list is the unsuspecting tomato.

It should come as no surprise that acidic foods are problematic for heartburn and acid reflux. While a sweet and juicy fruit, tomatoes are also highly acidic. In fact, they contain both types of major acids known to incite heartburn—citric and malic acids. Due to its high acidity, tomato can prompt severe heartburn and acid reflux even when only used as the base of a meal. This means that even when you don’t directly eat tomato, you might find yourself subject to heartburn and acid reflux if it was used in a sauce or marinade of any sort.

In addition to your GERD treatment program, eliminating tomatoes from your diet might help to reduce the severity or frequency of your heartburn and acid reflux. Since tomatoes are hidden in so many items (like baked beans, barbeque sauce and chili, just to name a few Southern favorites) it is hard to completely cut the fruit from your diet. The good news is many heartburn sufferers find improvements by simply reducing the amount of tomato they eat.

There are plenty of other fun produce options you can incorporate into your diet to cut down on tomato consumption. Try adding cucumbers, olives or radishes to your salad to add some flavor and color to your meal without turning to tomatoes. Sometimes a sweet and sour barbeque sauce is a better alternative to basting your meat when you are trying to avoid tomatoes, while barbeque dry rubs are often also free of tomato.

If you are hoping to have a plate of pasta, skip the tomato sauce and enjoy your spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and lemon instead. Other spices like basil, rosemary and oregano can add a lot of flavor to your meal without provoking GERD symptoms, too.

Minimizing your tomato consumption is just one lifestyle habit that might reduce the frequency of GERD symptoms. Eliminating tomatoes isn’t going to completely erase heartburn and acid reflux, but it can significantly improve your quality of life by reducing the frequency of these symptoms—especially when the dietary change is made in conjunction with your GERD treatment program and with the supervision of your GERD surgeon.

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