The best Barrett's esophagus diet is one that reduces reflux and allows the esophagus to heal. There are different foods that trigger reflux in people, so it is important to eliminate any foods that cause heartburn, whether they are traditionally included on a Barrett's diet list or not. Common triggers include alcohol, acidic foods, and fatty foods. Chocolate and peppermint can cause the lower esophagus to relax, which allows acid from the stomach into the esophagus. They should be avoided as well.
Common recommendations for a Barrett's esophagus diet includes a healthy amount of fruit and vegetables. Health care professionals often recommend a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Esophageal cancer is the main concern with Barrett's esophagus, so adding vegetables and fruits provides the benefit of reducing cancer risk and lowering the overall fat content of the diet. It is best to avoid acidic fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and oranges, as they may exasperate reflux.
Beverage selection is an important part of an effective Barrett's esophagus diet as well. Alcohol and carbonated beverages are best avoided. Both may trigger reflux, and many beverages containing alcohol and carbonation also contain sugar. Added calories may lead to weight gain, which can worsen reflux. In fact, it may be possible to reduce heartburn and reflux symptoms by simply maintaining a healthy weight.
The timing of meals is also an important part of a Barrett's esophagus diet. Eating several small meals a day lessens the chance of reflux. In particular, the last meal of the day should be small, and occur several hours before bedtime.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition that develops when the cells in the esophagus change in composition. These new cells are more likely to become cancerous than ordinary esophageal cells. Barrett's esophagus typically develops in people with acid reflux disease. Those with this condition experience regular exposure to stomach acid in the esophagus, which causes the cells to become irritated, and eventually change in composition.
Symptoms of Barrett's esophagus include difficulty swallowing food, frequent cases of heartburn, vomiting blood, or blood in the stool. People at the greatest risk of developing Barrett's esophagus are those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, experience chronic heartburn, and older adults. Caucasian and Hispanic individuals are more susceptible to Barrett's esophagus than other ethnic groups, and men are more susceptible than women.