Alcohol consumption and acid reflux symptoms often go hand in hand. If you want to enjoy a social drink with friends, there are some good options you can try to reduce the risk of acid reflux occurring. So, what is the best alcohol for acid reflux? And how do I avoid heartburn after drinking a glass of wine or beer?
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux happens when stomach contents, including gastric acid, backflow into your esophagus (food pipe).
There is a ring of muscle between your esophagus and stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter, whose job is to stop food and stomach acid backflowing into your esophagus.
An episode of acid reflux may occur if you have a large amount of acid in your stomach, a weak lower esophageal sphincter muscle, or too much pressure on your stomach.
Most people have an occasional episode of acid reflux. However, if you suffer chronic acid reflux at least twice a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and should consult your healthcare provider.
Common symptoms of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease may include a burning sensation and chest pain caused by irritation of the esophageal lining and an upset stomach.
How Does Alcohol Affect Acid Reflux?
Alcohol can worsen your acid reflux and trigger symptoms of heartburn. With a few simple swaps and knowing the best alcohol for acid reflux, you can lessen your risk of acid reflux in the aftermath of a celebration.
What The Research Says
Although alcohol is a risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux disease, it affects people differently.
Alcohol slows down digestive contractions and loosens your lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux episodes occurring. Chronic alcohol abuse damages the lining of your esophagus and stomach.
Beer, red wine, and white wine stimulate gastric acid secretion, again, increasing the risk of acid reflux occurring
In many cases, if you stop drinking alcohol, or reduce your consumption, some of your acid reflux symptoms will go away (1).
Best Alcohol For Acid Reflux
The best alcohol for acid reflux is clear, hard liquors like gin and tequila. Before you go planning a big night, remember to drink in moderation to reduce the risk of acid reflux. Only have one or two alcoholic drinks and follow the tips for avoiding acid reflux later in this article.
Conversely to what you might think, low alcohol drinks are acid reflux triggers. These drinks have a lower alcohol content which is more acidic in your stomach. In addition, artificial sweeteners found in some alcoholic beverages are very acidic and can trigger heartburn.
Also, it would help if you avoid carbonated drinks, soft drinks, and mixers. Gas in the bubbles can increase pressure in your stomach, causing bloating and burping. And this, in turn, puts pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, increasing your risk of acid reflux.
The table below shows which alcoholic drinks are best for acid reflux.
|Swap This Out||Better Choice||Best Choice|
|Hard Cider||White Wine||Tequila|
|Liqueurs||Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch||Rum|
|Pre-mixed Drinks||Non-grain Vodka|
Worst Drinks For Acid Reflux
If you suffer from heartburn or GERD, you should avoid these alcoholic beverages:
- Beer is the most acidic alcoholic drink and is a significant cause of acid reflux and heartburn. The yeast, sugars, and wheat all contribute to the high acidity level. Add carbonation to the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
- Cider is made in a similar way to beer and is highly acidic due to the sugars and the fermentation process.
- Liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Baileys have lots of sugar and acidic or acid-forming ingredients.
- Pre-mix drinks contain lots of sugar, which is acidic in your stomach. In particular, watch out for artificial sweeteners, as they are even worse for acid reflux than regular sugar.
OK Choices For Acid Reflux
- Red wine and white wine have different effects on gastroesophageal reflux disease; however, white wine is more likely to cause acid reflux symptoms. The best wines are those labeled “dry and crisp.” Avoid sweet wine and dessert wine (2).
- Darker drinks like whisky, bourbon, and scotch are lower in sugar due to their fermentation and distillation processes and, due to it being a clear hard liquor, are less acidic than other alcoholic drinks mentioned so far.
Best Alcohol For Acid Reflux
Clear, hard liquor is best if you suffer from acid reflux symptoms because they contain no sugar, which forms acid in your stomach.
Gin is the least acidic alcohol and contains no sugar.
While tequila is made from blue agave, a natural sweetener, its distillation process removes the sugar, making it one of the better alcohols for acid reflux.
Although rum is made from sugar cane, the sugar is removed during production.
Non-grain vodkas made from grapes are best for acid reflux sufferers. Or try vodka made from sugar beets, potatoes, and corn. Vodka made from grain increases your stomach acidity level.
Most vodkas are moderately acidic. You can also purchase alkaline non-grain vodka which may be a better choice for acid reflux sufferers; however, there is no research to prove this.
Which mixers are best for acid reflux?
It’s a good idea to dilute the acidity of alcohol with water or low acidity juices such as apple or carrot juice.
Avoid citrus fruit juices as they are very acidic. Sodas should also be avoided due to their high acidity. Carbonated drinks cause a buildup of gas in your stomach, increasing the risk of acid reflux occurring.
Tonic water has sugar, so it will also contribute to high acidity levels.
You can add a lemon or lime slice to alcoholic drinks to neutralize some of the acids. This sounds counterintuitive, but a small amount of lemon juice will turn alkaline (opposite of acidic) in your stomach.
How To Avoid Acid Reflux From Drinking Alcohol
It’s advisable to abstain from alcohol if you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, but if you are going to have a drink try these tips:
- Drink small amounts of alcohol. One to two drinks may be OK, but not more.
- Have a full glass of water (not carbonated) with a slice of lemon before and after each alcoholic drink to counteract the acidity.
- Dilute your alcoholic beverage with water to lessen the effect of alcohol. Never drink alcohol neat.
- If food is served with alcohol, so avoid your acid reflux trigger foods such as acidic foods, spicy foods, and fatty foods.
- Eat smaller meals slowly while drinking.
- Elevate your upper body from your hips when sleeping after drinking alcohol.
- Don’t lie down for at least 2-3 hours after you finish eating and drinking.
- Avoid tobacco use while drinking. Smoking is a major cause of acid reflux.
- If you need to, take over-the-counter medication, such as antacids, after drinking in anticipation of heartburn.
Why does alcohol give me heartburn?
Alcohol consumption may increase your heartburn. But if you stop drinking alcohol, acid reflux sufferers can control their symptoms in many cases. There are many reasons why alcohol gives you heartburn:
- Drinking alcohol not only helps you relax, but it helps your lower esophageal sphincter relax as well. And that means your stomach contents can reflux back into the esophagus easily.
- Also, alcohol stimulates acid production in your stomach, and when it refluxes, the acid erodes the esophagus lining.
- Alcohol makes your esophagus more susceptible to acid damage and can inflame your stomach lining.
- Alcohol contributes to the development of peptic ulcers, which worsens GERD symptoms.
What Is The Best Alcohol For Acid Reflux?
The bottom line is that alcohol, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are closely linked for some people. Avoiding alcohol can help your acid reflux symptoms. But if you must consume alcohol, clear, hard liquor, in moderation, is the best alcohol for acid reflux. And if you follow our tips for avoiding acid reflux from drinking alcohol, you’ve probably done all you can to avoid acid reflux symptoms.