Indian Diet for GERD/Acid Reflux

About the Author

Jayavani Sivakumar

With Acid Reflux, food is the first drug. Here is our recommendation for the Indian Diet for GERD/Acid Reflux. Avoid the food that is bad for you and add what is good for you, your condition will improve substantially.

Dietary changes are easier said than done. Many of us find it difficult to incorporate them because our life priorities do not permits us the luxury of picking and choosing what we eat, when we eat and how we eat. If you can make thse changes and get benefit from them, it is well and good. But if you can’t, don’t allow the condition to persist in the hope that tomorrow you will make the dietary changes and start feeling better. The tomorrow never comes.

If you can’t make your dietary changes, or the changes in diet don’t bring adequate benefits, fix up an appointment with your doctors to take up medical solution.

What is GERD or Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux or GERD is a disease wherein acidic content of the stomach escapes into the food pipe (also called esophagus or gullet). It can cause various complications,like heart burn and acid regurgitation and in some cases, leading up to a cancer called adenocarcinoma. See our Acid Reflux/GERD/Heart Burn page for more information.

General guideline for eating

Your digestion starts in your mouth. Not in your stomach. As you start chewing your food, the saliva in your mouth mixes up with your food and forms a bolus and sets off the process of digesting it. So, it takes time to complete this process. Chew your food properly. A general rule of thumb is to chew about 20 times before you swallow the food. Take time to eat your meal. This alone will improve your acid reflux, though not cure it completely.

Meals are the major aggravating factor for GERD symptoms,since they stimulate the production of the gastric acid available for the reflux into the oesophagus.

Meals eaten within 2 to 3 hours of bedtime which increase acid availability at night time or with alcohol,can predispose patient to nocturnal reflux

Indian Diet for GERD: Avoid these as they dilate the LES valve

GERD may develop due to decreased muscle tone or abnormal relaxation of LES.When LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) valve is dilated, it makes it easy for the acidic food from the stomach to flow back in to the esophagus. Here are some foods that aggravate your symptoms.

  • peppermint
  • chocolates

Indian Diet for GERD: Avoid these as they increase the acid content in the stomach

Here are some food items that are acidic in nature. Avoiding them reduce the acid content in the stomach:

  • Orange
  • Mosambi (citrum limetta or sweet lime, a fruit grown in India and Pakistan)
  • lemons
  • pineapple
  • tomato
  • raw onions
  • cola drinks
  • tomato sauce (or foods where tomato sauce or paste is a main ingredient, such as pizza or chili)
  • Caffeine, at least too much of it
  • Alcohol increases the acidic content of the stomach. Have moderate amounts of alcohol. And when you do, try to have it either before your meal or after your meal.

But you must remember that stomach acid in itself is a good thing. It helps you in breaking down the food you eat and assimilating the nutrients in it. Without enough stomach acid, you are faced with

Indian Diet for GERD: Avoid these as they cause Stomach Bloating

When you imbibe something that causes stomach bloating (also called gastric dilation), you will end up building the pressure in the stomach to find an escape route for its contents. LES valve becomes an easy target. Here are some foods that cause stomach bloating:

  • Soft drinks, simply because of the gas dissolved in the drink
  • Carbohydrate ferments in the stomach, releasing hydrogen. The hydrogen causes stomach bloating. When it tries to find its way out because the pressure in the stomach has been building up, it opens up the LES valve, the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus, resulting in acid reflux.
  • sweeteners (sugars, maple syrup, processed honey, aspartame)
  • condiments,soy sauce,vinegar
  • high fat cuts of beef,pork,lamb.

Indian Diet for GERD: Have more of these as they Neutralize Acid in the Stomach

Here are some foods that neutralize the acid in the stomach:

  • Oat meal
  • cold buttermilk

4 confusions about dietary guidelines

If you have read through the guidelines above, you may find it a little confusing and even contradicting. Practical questions like what to eat if fat causes LES dilation (so you should avoid them) and carbs cause boating (so, you should avoid them too) would perhaps popup in your mind. Read this section to clear your confusions.

Confusion 1: Stomach Acid is not bad for you

Stomach acid is not bad for you. In fact, you need stomach acid to properly digest your food. Without adequate stomach acid, you will end up with all sort of nutritional deficiency. So, first work on keeping your LES closed. So, we would recommend that you do things in this order:

  1. Avoid food that results in stomach bloating (soda, certain carbs, etc.)
  2. Avoid food that dilates your LES valve (chocolates, mint, etc.)
  3. Avoid food that induces acid
  4. Take food that reduces/neutralizes acid
  5. Avoid fermented alcoholic beverages like beer and wine since it stimulates the secreation of gastric acid and may compromise GI protective mechanism.

Confusion 2: Should you avoid Fat and Carbohydrate

If you are affected by GERD/Acid Reflux, you are readily asked ot avoid oily and fatty food. This is because fat dilates the LES valve and impairs the esophageal peristalsis and sets you up for the food content from your stomach to escape readily into esophagus. Fat also stays for a longer time period in your stomach, thereby increasing the amount of food held in your stomach and reduces stomach motility(gastric stasis)Dietary fat in the duodenum also appears to be a strong reflux trigger,in part by impairing gastric emptying.

But then again, carbohydrate causes acid reflux in its own way: Most type of carbohydrates start a fermentation process in the lower stomach, releasing hydrogen gas. The gas causes stomach bloating, and pushes its way through the LES valve, causing acid reflux.

So, traditionally, while your doctors were asking you to stay off oily food, people who go on Paleo diet (low carbs) or ketogenic diet (high fat) don’t often suffer from acid reflux. The downsides are

  • These diets are difficult to plan and execute
  • They must almost always be combined with physically active lifestyle
  • You can’t cheat very much on these diets and, more importantly,
  • Most doctors are extremely uncomfortable with them

Confusion 3: Your mileage might vary

Benefit from all these dietary guidelines vary from person to person. You will have to experiment with all of them and take what works for you. Approach this as if you approach a scientific experiment in your physics lab. Keep a journal if you like, consult to a professional (a doctor or a competent nutritionist), spend time on planning this ahead of time, etc.

The reason why you should take dietary modifications seriously is this: May be your GERD/Acid Reflux is an indicator that something that you eat is bad for you.

This is not always the case. For example, if the muscles in your diaphragm is weak, you will not be happy with the response you get for dietary modifications.

However, it is always nice to work on your food response systematically, eliminate offending food if any, and add food that makes you feel better. After fine tuning your food, if you still feel the symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, only then should you consider taking up other measures.

After all, it is foolish to eat that is toxic to your system and then to medicate yourself to neutralize the poison.

Confusion 4: Spice doesn’t cause GERD

If you have acid reflux disease, you may be told that you should stay away from spicy food. There is a subtlety to it. You see, spice in itself doesn’t cause acid reflux. For example, if you are to eat raw green chilly, it won’t sent of your reflux reaction.

What causes acid reflux after you eat spicy food is the oil in the spicy Indian food. The oil encourages production of glucagon in the stomach, which dilates the LES valve. So, remember, what you will need to avoid is oil and fat in the food. Not the spice in itself. If you have a mild case of GERD, stomach bloating caused by carbs will be a bigger problem to you than LES dilation caused by oil/fat.

The constant regurgitation of the acidic contents into the lower part of the esophagus results in erosive esophagitis in most of the patients.The symptoms are severe heart burn after 30 to 60 minutes of eating.But once the damage to the oesophageal mucosa has happened it is better to stay away from spicy foods,because it might irritate the lining of the stomach.Experiment with various food. Find what works for you.


Nutritional requirements for GERD do not vary much from that of the RDI for a normal individual.However ,dietary management with respect to meal pattern is of greater significance.

In case if the GERD is caused due to reasons such as obesity,it is essential you follow a weight reduction diet.Dietary pattern on the other hand needs to be altere dfor all patients.

Nutrient requirements may also change during certain complications such as bleeding thereby necessitating an increased intake of the following nutrients

  • protein
  • iron
  • B group vitamins
  • vitamin C
  • selenium

The dietary considerations for GERD are as folows

  • eat smaller and frequent meals
  • reduce weight
  • avoid lying down immediately after having a meal
  • avoid constipation by eating foods high in fiber,straining increases abdominal pressure reflux
  • avoid eating at least 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.
  • decrease fat intake and use nonfat milk.
  • avoid tight fitting garments especially after a meal
  • Harsh foods like chips,crisp crackers,seed fruits may cause perforation

For a person with severe GERD a lowfat liquid diet maybe well tolerated initially because it does not exaceberate esophageal distention

If you have any doubts, write them below in the comment section. One of us will respond to you ASAP.

GERD/LPR Expertise at LIMA

  • Our Chief Surgeon Dr. J. S. Rajkumar had authored a text book titled Modern Methods for Managing Acid Reflux/GERD. All the knowledge he used in writing this textbook are now incorporated in LIMA’s practice.
  • LIMA has all the instrumentation needed to accurately investigate and assess how mild or severe your acid reflux is
  • LIMA consultants offers the full range of Acid Reflux/GERD treatment, including
    • Behavior modification experts to help you with lifestyle changes
    • Registered dieticians to help you with a suitable diet selection
    • Functional medicine doctors to help you with nutritional support
    • Gastroenterologists to help you with medical protocol
    • The surgical group that has handled more volume than anyone else in South India

If the nature of your GERD is such that it doesn’t respond satisfactorily for lifestyle, dietary or medical interventions, then a surgical solution is your best option. If you select surgery, LIMA can give you “unparalleled advantage”:

  • Till date, we have carried out more than 2,000+ fundoplication surgeries. This is the largest volume handled by any single surgical team in South India.
  • LIMA is the only center in the Chennai where you can get the surgery done through a Scarless procedure.
  • LIMA subsidiary, MISTY, has trained largest number of surgeons in the country for
  • Currently, Dr. J. S. Rajkumar is co-authoring the first and only manual for laparoscopic surgery (14 volumes)


Listen to some of our real patients who received acid reflux/GERD treatment at LIMA:

Testimonial Videos

Even more Education

If you have read this far, we must congratulate you. You have taken your first step towards becoming an intelligent and informed patient. Very few patients have so much of dedication or put in the necessary efforts to empower themselves with the right kind of knowledge. Here are a few things you can do to further your knowledge:

  • Enroll yourself in our free newsletter about Acid Reflux/GERD management
  • Download our free ebook on Acid Reflux/GERD
  • Download our free ebook on Indian diets for GERD
  • LIKE our Facebook page on Acid Reflux/GERD to receive daily updates on this disease
  • LIKE our LIMA Facebook page to updates on other cutting edge treatments available only at LIM

Meet a Doctor

Do you think you have some of the symptoms described here. Fix an appointment with a LIMA doctor and get a thorough investigation. Unlike other chronic diseases, GERD can be easily treated if you catch it before it turns malignant.

Free eBook on GERD

Do you or someone you love has GERD (Acid Reflux). Download our free eBook specially prepared for the Indian patient, written by highly accomplished Indian surgeons, who have published several books for the international audience.

Knowledge base discussions

Go to the GERD/Acid Reflux page on our forum. Questions that patients like you asked and answers they received from LIMA or from other patients are permanently here, just frozen in time, waiting for you to benefit from the collective wisdom.