It is quite possible that if you asked your mom or grand-mom, “Does milk help heartburn?”, they told you that a glass of warm milk will help. More recently people are still advising milk – but instead, cold milk – to soothe the discomfort of heartburn. But the thing that we are going to look at is can milk actually bring long term relief for heartburn and acid reflux? And which milk is the best for heartburn and acid reflux.
Does warm milk or cold milk help heartburn relief?
Milk can help with heartburn, but there’s a lot to consider. Let’s first see how both warm milk and cold milk affect the gastrointestinal tract in the case of heartburn:
- Milk, when had warm, goes to the stomach and neutralizes the acid there – so ideally it should control GERD, acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion.
- On the other hand, the cold milk has the same effect in the stomach, but on the way to the stomach, it has a cooling and, therefore soothing, effect on the esophagus.
The bottom line is that milk does neutralize the acid in the stomach – and if you have it cold it also provides a cooling effect thereby providing an instant soothing relief for your acid reflux symptoms, but there’s more to the story that you need to know…
Does milk neutralize acid?
We’re referring to cow’s milk here…If you’ve read about food triggers for heartburn and acid reflux, you will know that milk and generally all dairy, fall under the acidic foods category. Milk usually contains quite a lot of fat. Fatty foods slow digestion and can cause undigested foods back up into the esophagus.
So, whatever temporary relief the milk gives you – soon after when it has formed acid in the stomach, it will just add on to the existing acid that will again reflux back past a weak lower esophageal sphincter and cause you the same discomfort and pain!
So, as you see – milk is at best a temporary relief for heartburn. In the long run, it will not do much good for your heartburn.
Should I give up milk if I have heartburn?
Well, not really. Milk, or more specifically the fat in the milk, will worsen GERD and heartburn. So, the best thing for you to do is try drinking fat free or skim milk in MODERATION – less fat almost always means less heartburn problems.
People with heartburn are usually advised to have smaller meals more frequently. And this includes a number of snacks in between meals. And for one or two of these snack-times you can try having an 8-ounce glassful of fat-free or skim milk.
Try having a small amount of no-fat or skim milk (start with 2 oz) once or twice a day for a few days. And if you are free of heartburn symptoms, then you can gradually add more milk to your diet.
Milk is really good for you. Not only will cow’s milk make your bones stronger and provide you body with lots of nutrition, it is also a healthy snack. So if you can tolerate some milk, it is usually recommended that you continue to drink it.
It is important to note that GERD, heartburn and acid reflux, particularly in infants, can be confused with cow’s milk allergy. Bother conditions have the same symptoms and should be investigated by medical professionals if symptoms continue.
Is yoghurt good for heartburn?
Natural low fat (or no fat) yoghurt with probiotics may be good for heartburn sufferers. Like milk, yoghurt will provide short term relief. According to Harvard Health Publishing, probiotics, specifically acidophilus, in yoghurt can:
- improve overall digestive health
- help fight infections
- reduce inflammation.
Milk substitutes for heartburn
If your body just can’t tolerate cow’s milk, there are other other options you can try to stop heartburn and acid reflux. Just remember that cow’s milk alternatives do not have the same nutrient makeup as cow’s milk. Most importantly, they don’t have a lot of calcium, which is one of the main reasons why cow’s milk is so good for us. Calcium is needed for strong bones and to prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Does almond milk help heartburn?
Almond milk is good for heartburn because it is alkaline and it neutralizes stomach acid. This helps to dilute stomach acid and prevent it from rising up into your esophagus. Almond milk is low in fat, which is another good reason why it should help get rid of heartburn. Another bonus for you is that almond milk is lactose free. While almond milk is not naturally high in calcium, most milks are fortified with calcium.
You need to beware that store bought almond milk can contain carrageenan which may cause inflammation, bloating and other adverse effects on your health.
Is soy milk good for heartburn and acid reflux?
Soy milk contains about half the fat of cow’s milk, which makes it a safer choice for people with people with acid reflux and heartburn. Fat free soy milk will be a better choice for you as there won’t be any added fat to increase acid in the stomach. You’ll need to watch out for carrageenan in soy milk (refer to almond milk above for more info).
Does oat milk help heartburn?
Oat milk is made from oats and is acid forming. When digested, oat milk forms excess acid in your stomach and this can lead to heartburn and bloating. On the other hand, oat milk is easier to digest and is lower in fat than cow’s milk. So, if your heartburn isn’t too bad, you might be able to drink oat milk in small quantities. The only way to know is to try it out.
Does coconut water or coconut milk help heartburn?
Coconut water is what you want to be drinking for heartburn relief. Most coconut milk you buy is now made from fresh coconut, and this will be alkaline and help neutralize stomach acid. You should check the can before purchase as milk made from dried coconut will be acidic and make your symptoms worse. Coconut milk is very high in fat is likely to make your heartburn and acid reflux worse.
If your symptoms are mild, try low fat coconut milk, but better still, just use coconut water. Coconut water is very low in fat and is a better choice for people with GERD, heartburn and acid reflux. It also has lots of health benefits. Again, watch out for carrageenan (see almond milk above).
Is goat milk good for acid reflux?
Goat milk is more digestible than cows milk. Raw goat milk is low acid forming and is good for acid reflux. However, most goat milk you buy has been pasteurized and is slightly acidic. Acidic foods and drinks are not good for people with acid reflux, heartburn or GERD. So, if you can get your hands on fresh raw goat milk, you may have a good alternative to cow’s milk.
Is cashew milk good for acid reflux?
I would say no. Cashew milk is acidic. There isn’t any scientific research I could find about the effects of cashew milk on acid reflux and heartburn. However, if you you do want to give it a try, go for store bought unsweetened cashew milk. Store bought cashew milk has been diluted with water, so it’s very low in fat. And we know that fat will cause more acidity in the stomach, which will lead to heartburn. Store bought cashew milk is usually fortified with vitamin D, which can also help keep heartburn at bay.
So what’s wrong with making your own cashew milk? Nothing – if you don’t suffer from acid reflux. Homemade cashew milk is a very nutritious alternative for people with dairy allergies. It’s just not for those of us with heartburn and acid reflux.
Does milk help heartburn?
Cow’s milk cannot cure your heartburn. But milk can soothe the pain quickly if it is really bad. But more importantly, milk can keep you full so that you can try to avoid heartburn. So, use milk for heartburn in moderation if you can tolerate it. But not before you understand the short and long term consequences!