Reflux, cholesterol and your diet

Do you suffer from high cholesterol and gastro-oesophagal reflux disorder (GORD)?

Here's how to improve both conditions with the correct diet:

Step 1: Get professional help
The first step is to consult a registered dietician. Your dietician will work out an individual diet prescription that takes both these conditions, as well as medications you may be taking and other individual factors, into account.

Step 2: Manage your cholesterol
To lower your cholesterol levels, you'll have to follow a diet that's low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in dietary fibre and protective nutrients. This means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, legumes, low-fat milk and dairy products, very lean meat and fish, having only four eggs per week, and eating only mono- or polyunsaturated margarine or oil.

If you don't need to lose any weight, you can eat slightly larger portions of these foods; if you do need to lose weight, however, it's important to stick to the portion sizes your dietician recommends.

It's furthermore important to check the foods you buy in the supermarket. Compare the total fat content of, for instance, standard Vienna sausages to that of low-fat Viennas. If the latter still contain more than 3g of fat per 100g, it's better to entirely avoid Viennas.

Try to go for less processed foods. For example, cook chicken without the skin and without the added fat (grill or boil in a stew) at home. This gives you more control over the amount of fat you eat.

You can also use omega-3 fatty acids (salmon oil capsules, for instance) to reduce your blood cholesterol. 

Step 3: Manage the gastric reflux
Heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers are caused by excess acid production in the stomach.

If you have food in your stomach, this give the acid something it can work on instead of attacking the stomach lining. Aiming for six smaller meals a day is a good idea when you're suffering from reflux, as this would mean that you practically always have some food in your stomach to prevent acid erosion. Also try to split up your main meals into two smaller meals each.

If you suffer from reflux, you'll also have to experiment with the foods you eat. Certain foods, e.g. raw onions, garlic, cucumber, green peppers, very spicy foods and condiments, carbonated cold drinks, very fatty food and alcohol, may worsen your symptoms.

Food reactions differ from person to person. For this reason, you'll have to keep a food diary to see which foods cause reflux. Avoid these foods if you can, and ask your dietician to assist you in finding substitutes as you might be excluding important nutrients from your diet.
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