Once you know which acid reflux foods to avoid and what you can eat instead, you are well on your way to curing your heartburn. Everyone’s body reacts differently to food. To get rid of heartburn symptoms for good, you need to work out which foods trigger your heartburn. In this article you’ll discover foods to avoid with acid reflux and tips to try if you really can’t do without.
1. Citrus fruits and juices
At the top of the list of worst food for acid reflux are citrus fruits. Although high in vitamin C, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and mandarins also contain high levels of acidity which can trigger acid reflux, particularly when eaten on an empty stomach. Even your favorite orange juice can feel like rubbing salt on a wound when you have acid reflux.
Low acid fruits and juices
- melons are very low in acid such as watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew
- berries, especially blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- dates and figs
- fresh coconut
- vegetable juices with ginger for extra flavour, and ginger is good for acid reflux too!
2. Garlic, onion and other spices
Though not acidic, fresh garlic and onions can trigger acid reflux by irritating your stomach lining. For some people though, eating a few cloves of fresh, minced garlic on an empty stomach can actually minimize heartburn. Raw garlic is super charged with antibiotics that kill the H.pylori bacteria that affects almost 80% of reflux sufferers and can cause stomach pain, nausea and heartburn.
Spices such as cayenne, curry, paprika, and nutmeg can also aggravate your acid reflux by increasing acidity in your stomach.
What seasonings are OK for acid reflux?
- some people tolerate dehydrated or dried onion and garlic
Rich in anti-cancer compound, lycopene, tomatoes are not good for people with acid reflux due to their high acid content. Ketchup and tomato-based pasta sauces also elicit the same effects. So next time, try mustard or low-fat mayo instead of ketchup. And if you love sauces, try some new sauce recipes that don’t use tomatoes, such as apple sauce, pesto and tomato free pasta sauce.
How to reduce acid in tomatoes
- Use less tomatoes.
- The riper the tomato, the less acidic it will be.
- Remove the seeds as they contain just as much acid as the flesh.
- Choose low acid tomato varieties. In general, yellow, white and orange tomatoes are less acidic than red ones.
- Cooking tomatoes increases their acidity, so try stirring chopped tomatoes through a hot dish at the end of cooking, or only cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes to warm it up.
- When cooking tomatoes, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every 6 tomatoes, and stir well. This will neutralize some of the acid. If you add too much baking soda, you might get a soapy taste in your food.
4. Spicy foods
Indian, Malay, Thai, Indonesian and Mexican food are mostly peppered with chili and spices are known acid reflux triggers. While tolerance to spicy food is highly individual, eating “hot” foods increases acidity in your stomach which in turn, causes heartburn.
Eating out with acid reflux
- Stay away from your acid reflux trigger foods.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Take advantage of “early bird” specials so you have a longer time between eating and sleeping as this can help reduce night time acid reflux.
- Instead of curries choose milder, non-spicy dishes such as stir-fries, Pad Thai Noodles or fired rice or ask them to hold back on the chili.
- Avoid tomato based sauces and heavy cream sauces.
Recurring acid reflux is associated with bad breath. But when you feel like grabbing some mint, consider the repercussions it may have on your esophageal sphincter muscles. Peppermint relaxes this muscle and this can lead to acid back-flowing into your throat. For the same reason, avoid tea and other mint-based products like chewing gums and candies as well.
Mint substitutes for acid reflux
- Gum that has bicarbonate soda in it is good for heartburn suffers as it can help neutralize acid and prevent reflux.
- You could try cinnamon gum, but for some people, cinnamon causes reflux.
- Chewing on 2 to 3 fresh basil leaves can give you instant relief from heartburn.
- Chew in a sliver of fresh ginger a small piece of candied ginger.
- Instead of peppermint tea, try other herbal teas that are good for acid reflux.
6. Fatty Foods
What do avocadoes, cheese plates, nuts, and juicy red meat steaks have in common? Although these foods are known to be low in acid, they are high in fats. And this can slow down digestion and put pressure on your esophageal sphincter causing acid reflux to set in.
How to reduce fat consumption and reduce acid reflux
- Portion control when eating fatty foods is vital for heartburn sufferers.
- Choose low or reduced fat foods where possible.
- When eating meat, trim the fat, eat a smaller portion and choose lower fat cuts to reduce the load on your digestive system. Sausages, bacon, ground beef and deli meats are definitely out.
- Consider how your food is prepared and avoid fried foods in favor of grilled, steamed or broiled foods.
7. Alcohol and carbonated drinks
Soda has high acidity and the bubbles add gas to your stomach which is why you feel uncomfortable after having a soda. The bubbles (or gas) can force open the the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus letting acid creep up and create a burning sensation. If a fizzy drink contains alcohol, then you’ve got even more factors to contend with. Alcohol also relaxes your sphincter muscle and stimulates your stomach to produce more acid.
How to prevent heartburn when drinking alcohol
- Drink in moderation – 1 or 2 drinks are fine, but not more.
- Discover the best alcohol to drink if you suffer from acid reflux.
- Dilute carbonated drinks with water.
- Add a lemon or lime slice to neutralize some of the acid.
- Don’t lie down within 2-3 hours of eating or drinking.
8. Caffeine-Filled Beverages
Caffeine-rich food and drinks like coffee, cola and tea not only increase acid production, but also relax the sphincter muscle that stops acid from refluxing into your esophagus. De-caffeinated coffee is also highly acidic, but some people with heartburn can tolerate it, so it’s worth giving it a try.
Caffeine substitutes for heartburn
- If you can’t live without coffee, consider cutting your consumption.
- De-caffeinated coffee, if you can tolerate it.
- Green tea contains less caffeine, so you may be able to rink it without reflux.
- Herbal tea
This no-go food will definitely break hearts but really, chocolates don’t just trigger heartburn, it may actually make your symptoms worse. The cacao and caffeine in chocolate relaxes your esophageal sphincter muscles, which triggers backflow of acid from your stomach into your esophagus. So, if you know you are susceptible to nasty acid reflux attacks, steer clear of this dark sensation.
What sweets can you eat with acid reflux?
If your heartburn is mild, you may be one of the lucky ones that can tolerate a small amount of dark chocolate. Chances are, if you are a chocolate lover another sweet treat may satisfy your craving. Try any of the following, but remember, large portions will put pressure on your stomach which may give you reflux.
- angel food cake
- sponge cake
- a small portion of black licorice
- jelly beans
- gummy bears
- low fat frozen yogurt
- berry sorbet
10. Milk and Dairy Foods
Milk does have an instant soothing effect on heartburn. However, dairy foods like milk and cheese not only worsen your stomach’s acid level, but they are also high in fat which slows down digestion which can bring on acid reflux.
What milk is good for acid reflux?
The best milk for heartburn is low or no fat milk which is drunk in moderation. If you can’t tolerate cow’s milk, there are alternative milks that you can try. Almond milk, goat milk, oat milk and soy milk are the most common milks that acid reflux sufferers have success with.
What dairy is good for acid reflux?
If you have acid reflux, eating small portions of low or no fat dairy foods are best. If cow’s milk gives you reflux, there are milk alternatives that you may be able to tolerate. For cheese, feta, low fat ricotta and goat cheese are less likely to trigger heartburn.
How to find your acid reflux food triggers
Everyone is different. The only way you will know for certain which foods to avoid is trial and error. Try keeping a food diary, and note the following:
- What you ate or drank
- How much you ate or drank
- What you were doing (eg. walking, watching TV, napping)
- Any symptoms that followed
Over time, your food diary will give you helpful details about which foods trigger your acid reflux. And if you find that after eliminating your food triggers and implementing other natural heartburn remedies (below) doesn’t solve the problem, then you need medical advice. Taking your food diary along can give your doctor a head start on finding treatment that works for you.
Natural heartburn remedies
Besides avoiding your acid reflux trigger foods, you may also need to implement some other changes:
- Eat slowly and stay active for at least 2 hours after your meal can go a long way in reducing reflux.
- Eat 4-5 small meals rather than 3 large meals each day, as this will put less pressure on your stomach.
- Regular exercise is something you should strive for always. It plays a key role in reducing acid reflux, but needs to be done correctly
- Avoid alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Elevate your upper body while sleeping
- Take antacids and other medication if needed to keep your reflux under control.
- Find out which alternative remedies for acid reflux work for you.
Acid reflux foods to avoid
Acid reflux foods to avoid is the first and most important step in getting your heartburn under control. Keep a food diary to track your trigger foods. Most likely, you will also need to implement other natural heartburn remedies. If your acid reflux persists, please seek help from a medical professional as ongoing heartburn can lead to other complications.