Barrett's esophagus is a condition caused by chronic, long-term acid reflux that damages the inside of the esophagus. Due to exposure to stomach acid, the cells inside the esophagus change through a process called metaplasia.
Sometimes, the cells may even become precancerous. Fortunately, the risk of developing cancer is low, despite the damaged cells in the esophagus.
The team at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County in Irvine, Huntington Beach, Tustin, and Foothill Ranch, California, have extensive experience helping patients with Barrett's esophagus. Our experts recommend dietary changes and treatments that reduce exposure to stomach acid. Here’s a list of the foods you should avoid to get better.
Caffeine relaxes the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. In addition, caffeine also increases stomach acidity. Caffeine is not only found in coffee but in many soft drinks, teas, and even chocolate.
Much like caffeine, alcohol relaxes the valve muscle and increases stomach acidity. However, some alcoholic drinks are better than others. Gin, tequila, and non-grain vodkas have lower acidity and are less likely to trigger acid production.
Citrus fruits and tomatoes are acidic, so they raise the acidity in the stomach. Ketchup and citrus juices can also have a negative impact on your acid reflux.
Many spicy foods contain capsaicin, which causes a burning sensation. This compound irritates the esophagus and may worsen the damage done by your stomach acid.
Carbonated drinks put pressure on the valve separating the esophagus from the stomach, increasing the probability of stomach acid traveling into the esophagus.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound that gives garlic its specific smell. This compound can fight off bacteria, but it can also increase acidity in the stomach.
Fried foods take longer to digest, and this delays stomach emptying. As a result, more acid is produced for a longer period of time to aid digestion. Fatty foods have the same effect, as they take longer to digest.
Although Barrett's esophagus is not life-threatening, left untreated for prolonged periods, it can cause serious discomfort and pain when eating. While dietary changes are crucial, they may not be enough if your stomach is predisposed to creating more acid than necessary.
Our team usually recommends lifestyle changes as well as regular endoscopies and biopsies to manage Barrett’s esophagus. In severe cases, we may suggest endoscopic ablative therapy to remove damaged esophageal tissue. To ensure you’re free of symptoms, contact us to schedule an appointment.