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Acid reflux diet: Fight heartburn with your fork

June 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
At one time or another most people have experienced heartburn. But an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from a chronic case of acid reflux. What if you could fight reflux with a fork instead of a pill?

"I've always thought that heartburn is just something you have to live with," said Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, author of The Acid Reflux Solution.

Rodriguez grew up eating mostly Cuban food -- loads of starch -- and says he didn't see a vegetable until he was 24.

"Our food is greasy and garlicky and abondante -- just lots of it," said Rodriguez.

But Rodriquez, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases, changed his tune and his diet when writing "The Acid Reflux Solution." He lost 24 pounds in the process by turning to food rather than pharmacy for relief.

"The problem with the pills is they work," said Rodriguez.

Pills are commonly popped to stop acid production. Rodriguez says the problem is that the body needs that acid to break down and absorb nutrients like iron and calcium. Without it, we can suffer from malnourishment, osteoporosis or anemia.

Using too many antacids over too long a period of time can stop acid production altogether, and may cause serious problems.

"What we don't talk about is that there is a chance that atrophied stomach cells could turn into stomach cancer," said Rodriguez.

His prescription: Fight back with food.

Rodriguz would like you to be successful by starting with three easy principles:

  • Cut back on saturated fat.
  • Eat lots and lots of fibrous foods.
  • Practice portion control.

Try a Greek yogurt parfait with fresh fruit, coconut, pecans, lightly dusted cinnamon and brown sugar.

Or try party snacks made with blended goat cheese, Kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes.

"I did not think that you could combine cream cheese and blue cheese and beef," said Newport Beach resident Barbara Venezia.

Venezia, a former heartburn sufferer, was shocked by a grass-fed burger stuffed with blue cheese, grilled Portobello mushroom and sesame-oil coleslaw.

"You eat four of them, you're going to get heartburn," said Rodriguez. "You eat one of them, you're going to be fine."

Less-processed more whole foods are best, but even tomato sauce, orange juice and other acid foods work.

"Only 6 percent of Italians have heartburn. And you think 'Oh my God, all the pasta,'" said Rodriguez.

Forty percent of Americans have heartburn due to stress, weight and slamming down food.

"It's a slow process, it's an event, it's a time for communion with friends," said Rodriguez. "Here it's like, 'Boom, boom, boom.'"


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