By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

Part of why meat is troublesome for people with reflux is that it’s hard to grind down to chyme. Because meat is so difficult to digest, it stays in the stomach longer than many other foods. This means the stomach will be expanded for a longer period of time, putting pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) for a longer period of time.

The longer the LES is stressed, the more likely it is that some of the stomach contents will slip up to the esophagus.

Meats with a lot of fat are the worst. High-fat foods sit in your stomach for longer periods of time, stretching the stomach and increasing the pressure put on the LES.

This is one of the reasons doctors recommend eating lean proteins such as: beans, fish (cod, flounder, grouper, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, orange roughy, swordfish, tilapia, trout, tuna, wild catfish), shellfish (crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp), game meat (buffalo, deer, elk), and poultry (chicken, turkey).

Red meat often has a higher fat content and, therefore, is slower to exit the stomach. Cutting out red meat completely may be ideal, but if you can’t live without the occasional steak or burger, try to limit your intake of red meat to one red-meat meal every two weeks. When you do get a steak or burger, make the smart choice and go for the leaner cuts, and don’t have a big portion.

If you have severe acid reflux, consider cutting back your meat intake in general, to eating meat only two or three times a week. To make up for the lost protein, start incorporating beans, soy, and nuts. Be aware of the serving size for nuts though, because they’re high in fat.

Limiting to a handful or two is best, or read the label. You’ll likely be surprised at the scant number of nuts you should eat per serving.