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Understanding the Barrett's Esophagus Diet

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/14/2009

This article focuses on the Barrett's esophagus diet. It also includes some information on this condition.

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    Barrett's esophagus is a medical condition that occurs due to complications that arise from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease. This condition affects white males the most. It is thought that this condition may also run in families, but the link isn't completely clear. This condition is linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Patient's experiencing this condition will experience general GERD symptoms (nausea, heartburn, fluid regurgitation), but these symptoms will often be far more severe. Medications are the most common treatment method, but certain lifestyle changes can be greatly beneficial. Some of these lifestyle changes include weight loss (if overweight), lessening one's alcohol consumption, quitting smoking and following a diet that specifically alleviates the symptoms and progression of this condition.

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    Diet Guidelines

    Those with this condition should follow certain dietary guidelines to alleviate their symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition. Several foods should be avoided, but there are certain foods that when consumed more often can help. Those with this condition should also avoid food and drinks four to five hours before going to bed. They should also avoid lying down right after they eat because this can increase heartburn and regurgitation.

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    Foods to Avoid

    Those on the Barrett's esophagus diet should avoid certain foods. Foods that are high in fat should be avoided. This includes fast food, pizza and processed foods. They should avoid foods that are known to trigger heartburn such as carbonated drinks and sodas, orange juice and tomato juice and sauces. Peppermint and chocolate are also known to trigger heartburn so they should be avoided. Since all patients are different each individual may have certain food triggers that they need to avoid. For example, some patients may notice that coffee triggers heartburn, but other patients will be able to consume coffee without experiencing heartburn. Other foods that may worsen this condition include Mexican foods, Italian foods, Cajun foods and foods prepared in grease or with many different spices.

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    Foods to Choose

    Those with this condition may benefit from increasing their consumption of certain foods. Whole wheat and other whole grains may help to decrease nausea. However, it is important to not overdo these types of foods because they can be filling quickly. When eating whole wheat pastas, it is important to be careful when choosing a sauce because some sauces, such as tomato sauces, may worsen symptoms. Fruits and vegetables are important elements of the Barrett's esophagus diet. These foods will not aggravate a person's symptoms and they will actually help to improve overall health which can aid in actually reducing a person's symptoms. It is thought that at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day can also decrease the risk of cancer. Since esophageal cancer is a risk that those with this condition face, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is an added benefit.

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    Resources

    WebMD. (2009). Barrett's Esophagus. Retrieved on July 21, 2009 from Website: http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/baretts-esophagus

    Barrett's Info. (2006) Frequently Asked Questions About Barrett's Esophagus. Retrieved on July 21, 2009 from Website: http://www.barrettsinfo.com/faq.htm


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