Taming GERD: How Low FODMAPs Might Ease Your Symptoms
Article

Taming GERD: How Low FODMAPs Might Ease Your Symptoms

Published on Thursday, June 06, 2024
by
Haley McGaha

Health & Wellness

Silencing GERD Symptoms: The Low FODMAP Approach

You may have heard of a Low FODMAP diet from several sources, as this diet has grown in popularity in the last several years. In case you don’t know, FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—these are all short-chained carbohydrates often poorly absorbed in the small intestine in those sensitive to them. 

Understanding the Low FODMAP Diet: A Primer

For many years, the Low FODMAP diet has been part of diet recommendations for people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with experts from the American Gastroenterological Association noting it as the most evidence-based diet intervention for IBS. In recent years, the Low FODMAP diet may not only be helpful for IBS but also for reducing GERD symptoms and improving gut health. 

Before we discuss a Low FODMAP diet for GERD and gut health, let’s briefly recap what it is for those unfamiliar with it. 

The Low FODMAP diet has three phases: 

  1. Only Low FODMAP foods are consumed in the elimination phase for 2-6 weeks.
  2. The challenge phase—during this phase, you slowly introduce FODMAP-containing foods back into your diet, typically one food at a time for 1-3 days. This phase aims to see if you can recognize any adverse symptoms from introducing certain high FODMAP foods.
  3. Personalization is typically lifelong. During this phase, people incorporate foods that are tolerated and avoid foods that cannot be tolerated.

Exploring the Connection Between Low FODMAP and GERD

In this study, a clinical trial found that long-term consumption of fructooligosaccharides greatly increases the rate of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations, which means increased acid reflux symptoms/episodes. Therefore, decreasing fructooligosaccharides (onions, garlic, etc) has been found to help reduce GERD symptoms.

This 2022 study out of Nutrients advocates that there is a possible connection between Low FODMAP diets in those people living with GERD and IBS. They found that typical reflux symptoms after eating, like bloating, feeling full, and belching, were much lower after consuming Low FODMAP foods. 

How could a Low FODMAP diet alleviate GERD symptoms? While many studies focus on symptom relief, the rationale lies in the potential reduction of gas, which could relieve pressure on the stomach. Additionally, identifying trigger foods during the challenge phase may lead individuals to avoid these triggers, potentially improving and alleviating GERD symptoms. Further research is indicated to examine the direct connections between a Low FODMAP diet and the reduction of symptoms in those living with GERD.

When you avoid irritants in your diet, this will allow your gut lining to repair itself and help restore a healthy balance of gut flora. Therefore, avoiding FODMAP foods that don’t agree with you may help allow your gut lining to repair and in turn, you will have a healthier gut.

Implementing a Low FODMAP Diet: Food Lists and Sample Meal Plan

So, how do we put this into daily life? Well, it would be helpful to list a few food items that are Low FODMAP and GERD-friendly.  

  • Vegetables: broccoli heads, carrots, collard greens, edamame, jicama, kale, potatoes
  • Fruit: cantaloupe, unripe bananas, honeydew melon, kiwi  
  • Protein: chicken, eggs, fish, extra-firm tofu, turkey 
  • Grains: popcorn, gluten-free pretzels, rolled oats, quinoa, basmati rice 

Now that you’ve seen a few food ideas, I figured giving a sample meal plan for a day would also be helpful.

Breakfast: rolled oats made with lactose-free milk (or milk substitute), unripe banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, walnuts 

Lunch: grilled chicken, quinoa, sweet potato bowl with a side salad

Dinner: salmon stir fry - salmon with vegetables (zucchini, carrots, broccoli heads) in a Low FODMAP teriyaki sauce with rice noodles

Navigating Social Situations and Dining Out on a Low FODMAP Diet

Not only can planning your daily meals be a struggle, but dining out and social situations can also be challenging when following a Low FODMAP diet. 

Don’t fear! Here are a few tips when you find yourself in these situations.

Pre-plan, pre-plan, pre-plan! Most restaurants will offer their menus online, so try looking at the menu in advance to pick foods that will agree with you. If pre-planning isn’t an option, that’s okay. Multiple smartphone apps will allow you to enter food, and they will tell you if it is a high, moderate, or Low FODMAP food. It also tells you which category that food falls into. These apps can help provide a quick reference on which foods you should or should not avoid when away from home. If these are not options, you cannot go wrong with protein choices, such as beef, turkey, chicken, and fish. 


  1. Chey, W. D., Hashash, J. G., Manning, L., & Chang, L. (2022). AGA Clinical Practice Update on the Role of Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Expert Review. Gastroenterology, 162(6), 1737–1745.e5. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2021.12.248 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, February 24). Low Fodmap Diet: What it is, uses & how to follow. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22466-low-fodmap-diet 
  3. de Bortoli, N., Frazzoni, L., Savarino, E. V., Frazzoni, M., Martinucci, I., Jania, A., Tolone, S., Scagliarini, M., Bellini, M., Marabotto, E., Furnari, M., Bodini, G., Russo, S., Bertani, L., Natali, V., Fuccio, L., Savarino, V., Blandizzi, C., & Marchi, S. (2016). Functional Heartburn Overlaps With Irritable Bowel Syndrome More Often than GERD. The American journal of gastroenterology, 111(12), 1711–1717. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2016.432 
  4. Geysen, H., Gielis, E., Deloose, E., Vanuytsel, T., Tack, J., Biesiekierski, J. R., & Pauwels, A. (2020). Acute administration of fructans increases the number of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations in healthy volunteers. Neurogastroenterology and motility, 32(1), e13727. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.13727 
  5. Piche, T., des Varannes, S. B., Sacher-Huvelin, S., Holst, J. J., Cuber, J. C., & Galmiche, J. P. (2003). Colonic fermentation influences lower esophageal sphincter function in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology, 124(4), 894–902. https://doi.org/10.1053/gast.2003.50159 
  6. Plaidum, S., Patcharatrakul, T., Promjampa, W., & Gonlachanvit, S. (2022). The Effect of Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAP) Meals on Transient Lower Esophageal Relaxations (TLESR) in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Patients with Overlapping Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Nutrients, 14(9), 1755. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091755 
  7. Rivière, P., Vauquelin, B., Rolland, E., Melchior, C., Roman, S., Bruley des Varannes, S., Mion, F., Gourcerol, G., Sacher-Huvelin, S., & Zerbib, F. (2021). Low FODMAPs diet or usual dietary advice for the treatment of refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease: An open-labeled randomized trial. Neurogastroenterology and motility, 33(9), e14181. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.14181 

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