It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
I was on your site looking at your GERD book, and I noticed a few of the recipes have lemon juice, onion or garlic. It was my understanding that all of those were really big stomach upsetters, what is the truth? Everything I read says to avoid citric acid, but that is in almost everything - they use it as preservative among many other uses. It's usually at the end of the list of ingredients, but still there nonetheless. Should that be something to look out for? Any advice on this would help; I've gone to the doctors more times than I can count and they really are not knowledgeable in this area.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules as to which foods will trigger reflux. GERD triggers are generally specific to each individual and one person might be able to tolerate chocolate where another can't. The same holds true for such things as lemon juice, onions, and garlic.
Start slowly. Use recipes with one ingredient that might bother you at a time to see what triggers your reflux. Sometimes that might even be a recipe with a lot of garlic where only a single clove does not provoke symptoms. For most folks this does take some experimentation. Some Dr. Gourmet recipes do have small amounts of ingredients that are considered GERD triggers. The key is that these are in very small amounts and not the dominant ingredient.
Take your time and you'll build a list of those ingredients that are your personal triggers.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan MD, FACP