Food and GERD

Fatty and fried foods can trigger reflux events.
Fatty and fried foods can trigger reflux events.
Chris Stein/Getty Images

Food travels from the mouth to the stomach through the esophagus. A band of muscles at the junction of the stomach and esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), normally acts as a barrier to prevent the "reflux," or backflow, of stomach contents into the esophagus. If that barrier is somehow compromised, the esophagus is exposed to stomach acid and reflux occurs.

A hiatal hernia may contribute to the muscle barrier being compromised, as it means the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, making it easier for the acid to flow up into the esophagus.


Other factors that may contribute to GERD include:

  • Alcohol use
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

Certain foods can be associated with reflux events:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Drinks with caffeine
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Mint flavorings
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato-based foods