The esophagus is a specialized tube that allows the food to travel [once chewed and ready for swallowing] down our throats and into our stomachs. It has a special muscle at the lower end which allows food and liquid into the stomach and is generally tightly closed to prevent the flow of stomach acid coming back up into the esophagus.

Explaining GERD

This is the weakening of the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus, allowing stomach acid to reflux back up the tube. Symptoms of this disease include chest discomfort, heartburn and the awful bitter taste of our stomach acid as it gets to the mouth. If this acid gets the chance to trickle into our larynx [breathing tube] it can cause coughing, hoarseness, chest discomfort and shortness of breath. There are a number of factors, including certain foods that can lead up to GERD - this will be discussed as you get deeper into the article.

Factors - helpful in reducing some symptoms

STOP

* Tobacco - this weakens the lower muscle and should be avoided whether you smoke it or chew it.
* chewing gum - increases the amount of swallowed air, leading to reflux and burping [belching]
* hard candy - increases saliva and swallowed air, thus also leading to reflux and burping.
* lying down straight after a meal - puts pressure on the esophageal muscle [so avoid snacks before bedtime]
* don't do any serious bending after eating - puts pressure on the muscle
* tight clothing [yup we all loosen our belts after the big dinner] this also puts pressure on the muscle

START

* eating smaller amounts - this aids in less stress on the esophageal muscle
* losing weight if obese - obesity will cause more reflux due to the pressure of the extra weight on your stomach
* elevating the head of the bed [6 or 8 inches should do the trick] - this will prevent reflux while you are asleep [do not use extra pillows when the bed is in this position as it will cause extra pressure on your abdomen]

Nutrition

A diet to control reflux is generally easy to follow as there are few limitations in the basic and/or daily foods we eat. Follow the factors above and the diet suggestions below to ease your symptoms.

Foods to avoid

The following foods actually weaken the muscle that controls your reflux, avoid these as much as possible.

* creamed foods
* soup
* oils
* chocolate [shame, this poor food is always a NO NO]
* full cream milk
* mint - peppermint and spearmint
* fatty and/or fried foods
* alcohol
* spicy foods

Foods to limit

The following can irritate the lower esophagus if it is inflamed, limiting or avoiding these for a while can aid in reducing your reflux.

* tomato
* pineapple
* citrus - fruit or juices
* caffeinated soft drinks
* coffee - decaf or regular

Foods to increase

These foods can help in strengthening the lower muscle in the esophagus, increase your intake but remember that to much of a good thing could make you put on a few extra pounds.

* high protein foods - low fat, as to much fat can have a reverse effect
* low fat carbohydrates - bread, crackers, pasta and cereals
* calcium - try increasing your intake of low fat milk and yogurt

As you can see I have not actually given you a diet to follow, I have just given you a few pointers to point you in the right direction in aiding the decrease of your reflux problems. If these problems do not respond to your change of diet and bad habits, please consult your doctor for his advice as you may need to go on medication in more severe cases of GERD.

Author's Bio: 

Candice is a full time author and loves to write about her interests. These include a variety of diets, be it for weight loss or for the benefit of ones health she puts pen to paper. She also loves shopping, bowling, beading, dabbles in the forex market and enjoys internet marketing. You can visit her at 22 Inch Rims to find the 22 Inch rims you have always wanted.