With the acid watcher diet, we use a food-based approach (instead of medication) to treat acid reflux disease. In the acid watcher diet, we divide the treatment plan into two phases. Phase one is what we call the healing phase. It's a 28 day program where we try and have the patients eat foods above pH 5. After that, we launch into something called the maintenance phase, which is generally a lifelong approach - a diet and lifestyle change where you want to eat foods above pH 4. Depending on the patient's symptoms dictates what foods we like to avoid, and what foods we'd like to have. If someone has traditional heartburn, in addition to throat symptoms, such as cough, hoarseness, frequent throat clearing, post-nasal drip - then we'll have patients avoid what I call the dirty dozen. There are six foods that are very acidic and six foods that generally loosen the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. For heartburn, where you have loosening of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle and acid comes up from the stomach and you get traditional heartburn and regurgitation (regurgitation means food or acidic material comes up from the stomach) then you certainly want to avoid coffee, chocolate, alcohol, mint, raw onion, and raw garlic. What all those foods have in common is that they are carminative, meaning they loosen the lower esophageal sphincter. Coffee and chocolate (because of a micronutrient called methylxanthine) will not only loosen the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, but it will increase acid production by the stomach. That's why, when you're having coffee and chocolate later and later in the day, it's going to increase the pressure and have more and more symptoms related to heartburn and regurgitation. As it turns out, if you cook spices - which are generally carminative - if you cook onion and garlic, you take away its carminative effect.
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