It is a commonly shared belief that there exist some things in this world that you need to experience to understand; the type of stuff that no amount of reading about will do it any justice. For many, that could be the experience of having children, for others it could be the thrill of jumping out of an airplane, or for even more still, it could be the agony that comes with having a hernia.
A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. A prime example of this is when the intestines break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall. A hernia can be brought on by a predisposition of genetic muscle weakness or participating in activities that lead to sprains and strains, such as heavy lifting.
One of the most common types of hernias is a hiatal hernia, in which park of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm and can cause a painful increase in acid reflux. And while surgery is often the solution to a hernia, it is of the utmost importance that you maintain a healthy, hernia friendly diet in order to minimize your symptoms.
Fiber is an indigestible form of carbohydrate that promotes digestive and cardiovascular health. To prevent constipation and strain during bowel movements, which can worsen inguinal hernia pain, the Mayo Clinic recommends a fiber-rich diet. Switching to low-fiber starches – such as white bread, instant rice, enriched pasta, and pretzels – with complex carb sources, such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, and legumes, is a useful way to boost your fiber intake.
Fatty foods might relax the lower part of your esophagus, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, which can make way for acid reflux. Foods high in saturated or trans fats, such as red and processed meats, high-fat dairy products, fried foods and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil, might also contribute to inflammation and weight gain.
How acidic a food is, is determined by the amount of hydrochloric acid — a highly acidic substance — your stomach produces to digest it. Although acidic foods are harmless, and often nutritious, components of most diets, they can increase irritation and worsen acid reflux associated with hiatal hernias.
Foods with added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, and honey, contribute calories and sweetness, but few nutrients, too many prepared foods, and beverages. Eating excessive amounts of added sugars, which average Americans do, likely contributes to weight gain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Needless to say, that being obese and having a hiatal hernia is a bad combination.