Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition with a high prevalence in western countries. Transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation episodes and a decreased lower esophageal sphincter pressure are the main mechanisms involved. Currently used drugs are efficient on reflux symptoms, but only as long as they are administered, because they do not modify the reflux barrier. Certain nutrients or foods are generally considered to increase the frequency of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, therefore physicians recommend changes in diet and some patients avoid bothering foods. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding food and gastroesophageal reflux. For example, fat intake increases the perception of reflux symptoms. Regular coffee and chocolate induce gastroesophageal reflux and increase the lower esophageal exposure to acid. Spicy foods might induce heartburn, but the exact mechanism is not known. Beer and wine induce gastroesophageal reflux, mainly in the first hour after intake. For other foods, like fried food or carbonated beverages data on gastroesophageal reflux is scarce. Similarly, there are few data about the type of diet and gastroesophageal reflux. Mediterranean diet and a very low carbohydrate diet protect against reflux. Regarding diet-related practices, consistent data showed that a “short-meal-to-sleep interval” favors reflux episodes, therefore some authors recommend that dinner should be at least four hours before bedtime. All these recommendations should consider patient’s weight, because several meta-analyses showed a positive association between increased body mass index and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn, diet, coffee, fat intake, chocolate, alcohol.
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