Acid Reflux Diet: 8 Foods to Avoid & Eat
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Acid reflux, that irritating backflow of stomach acid up into your esophagus, is often triggered by what you eat and drink. Eat the wrong food and you’re sure to feel the burn. Some foods are known to cause reflux more than others.
Quick reminder: If you have heartburn more than twice per week, you may have a more serious condition called GERD – schedule an appointment today.
Here are 8 foods to avoid if you have acid reflux, and 8 foods that keep you free from the burn and keep you healthier overall. A win-win!
8 Foods to Avoid With Acid Reflux
Acid reflux foods to avoid:
- Chocolate — Everyone’s favorite treat comes with a dark side; chocolate contains caffeine, cocoa, and plant chemicals that can all trigger heartburn. Also, a chemical in cocoa relaxes the LES, making it easier for stomach contents to leak into your esophagus.
- Peppermint — Known for soothing an irritable bowel, peppermint has the opposite effect on acid reflux. Peppermint relaxes the muscles used for digestion, and a relaxed LES is a leaky LES.
- Fatty foods — If you feel like fatty foods make you sluggish, you’re right. They relax your LES and are slower to digest than other foods. When food sits in your stomach longer, your body responds by making more acid. Fried foods like onion rings are obvious culprits, but meats like prime rib or bacon, and whole milk dairy products also cause symptoms.
- Spicy foods — Spicy foods make acid reflux worse in two ways. First, the capsaicin in many spicy foods can slow digestion. But before it even gets that far, it can irritate an already irritated esophagus on its way down.
- Acidic foods and drinks — Acidic foods are common triggers of acid reflux. Foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato products, pineapple, and vinaigrette salad dressings all have a high acid content, contributing to an already acidic environment.
- Garlic — Garlic, especially raw, is known to cause heartburn and upset stomach in healthy people. That makes it even more likely to cause issues for those who suffer from acid reflux.
- Onions — Raw onions don’t just make you cry; they stimulate acid production. That extra acid puts you at risk for heartburn.
- Drinks containing alcohol, caffeine, or carbonation — Alcohol and caffeine both relax the LES, allowing acid to leak up your esophagus. The bubbles in carbonation expand your stomach, pushing stomach contents up against the LES. That makes soda, coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages all triggers. Be especially careful with mixed drinks, which could combine triggers.
8 Foods that help acid reflux
Here is a list of foods to eat with acid reflux:
- Vegetables and non-citrus fruits — Aside from the “bad” foods listed above, nearly all fruits and vegetables help reduce stomach acid. They’re also low fat, low sugar, and provide fiber and important nutrients. Bananas, melons, broccoli, asparagus, and green beans are low in acid and known to reduce stomach acid levels.
- Whole grains — High fiber, whole-grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain breads help stop symptoms. They are a good source of fiber and may help absorb stomach acid, reducing the risk of symtoms.
- Lean protein — Low-fat, lean sources of protein also reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Good choices are chicken, seafood, tofu, and egg whites. The best ways to prepare them are baked, broiled, poached, or grilled.
- Beans, peas, and lentils — Along with being good sources of fiber, beans, peas, and lentils also provide protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts and seeds — Many nuts and seeds provide fiber and nutrients and may help absorb stomach acid. Almonds, peanuts, chia, pomegranate, and flaxseeds are all healthy choices.
- Yogurt — Not only is yogurt soothing to an irritated esophagus, but it provides probiotics that support your digestive tract. It’s also good source of protein.
- Healthy fats — Fat is a necessary nutrient but eating too many fatty foods can trigger symptoms. Replacing unhealthy fats with unsaturated fats can help. Avocados, olive oil, walnuts, and soy products are good choices for healthy fats.
- Ginger — Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used throughout history for gastrointestinal problems. Ginger can be added to smoothies, soups, stir fry, or other dishes, or steeped as a tea.
If acid reflux is impacting your quality of life, or if you have acid reflux more than twice a week, schedule an appointment with one of the experts at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio.
Acid Reflux Foods FAQ
What foods neutralize stomach acid immediately?
Non-citrous fruits like bananas can help neutralize stomach acid fast. They are a good source of natural antacid and can provide quick relief from acid reflux and heartburn. Bananas have a higher pH, which can help offset stomach acid.
It’s important to note that different people might react differently to these foods. What works for one person might not work for another. It’s always best to keep a food diary to identify what works best for you and to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing frequent acid reflux or other digestive issues.
How can bananas help with acid reflux?
Bananas are a kind of natural antacid, which means they can help to lower the amount of acid in your stomach.
What about oatmeal for acid reflux?
Oatmeal is a type of food that is full of fiber. This fiber can help soak up the acid in your stomach and lessen the symptoms of acid reflux.
What other changes can I make to prevent acid reflux?
Other than food, you could try eating smaller meals, not lying down or going to bed soon after eating, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking.
Does chocolate cause heartburn?
Yes, chocolate can cause heartburn. It contains caffeine and theobromine, which can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow back up into the esophagus. Additionally, the high fat content in chocolate can increase stomach acid, potentially leading to heartburn. However, everyone is different, and not everyone will experience heartburn from eating chocolate.
Do these foods work for everyone?
Different foods can affect people in different ways. What works for one person may not work for another. If you have problems with acid reflux, it’s also a good idea to talk to a doctor.
Remember, it’s always best to ask a healthcare professional if you have any questions about acid reflux or your diet. They can help find the best plan for you.