Published On By Rachel Nall

Foods To Avoid With Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a gastrointestinal problem that happens when the acid from your stomach backflows into your esophagus.

This may cause burns and ulcers in the esophageal lining. It happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) has a spasm and does not close properly to prevent the backflow of digestive juices.

Acid reflux is also called Gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD which is a common problem.

It has some characteristic symptoms such as bitterness in the back of the throat, a burning sensation in the chest, and bloating in the stomach. If it persists for more than two weeks, it causes a problem called heartburn.

Taking care of your diet is an important step in managing acid reflux. Certain foods can trigger this problem and worsen the condition.

So, to ensure you’re eating the right food, we’ve made a list of foods you might want to avoid if you have acid reflux.

Top 10 Foods To Avoid With Acid Reflux

  1. Citrus Foods

    Citrus fruits are rich in ascorbic acid or Vitamin C and If consumed by people with acid reflux, it increases the acidity of the stomach and worsens the symptoms of acid reflux.

    The sudden increase in the pH of gastric juices damages the lining of the stomach and may cause peptic ulcers caused due to gastric acid secretion or the development of pepsin. It may also cause peptic gastric pain after having a meal. Citrus fruits also increase the burning sensation and may cause you to feel tingling in the back of your throat.

    Thus, if you have acid reflux you may avoid oranges, lemons, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes, and other highly acidic foods.

  2. Carbonated Beverages

    Carbonated drinks contain gases (Carbon dioxide) mixed with water at high pressure. They contain bubbles that increase in size in the stomach which could cause excruciating pain while creating more pressure.

    Due to the increase in pressure inside the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES is forced to remain open which causes the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus.

    You might start excessively burping to get rid of the gastric pressure but in some severe cases, the increase in pressure causes extreme pain and you might want to see your gastroenterologist for further guidance.

    However, as per this study, there is no direct link established between carbonated beverages and GERD that could alleviate or worsen its symptoms.

  3. Chocolate

    As per this study, chocolate helps in decreasing LES pressure which could be the basis for further evaluating its effect on acid reflux problems. This assessment showed that people with acid reflux problems should avoid consuming chocolates.

    Other than that, the high cocoa content of dark chocolate might also increase the acidity of the stomach as cocoa is considered to be acidic in nature.

    It could significantly increase the bitterness felt in the back of the throat when acid rises into the esophagus.

  4. High-Fat Foods

    Foods that are rich in saturated fats have proven to worsen the symptoms in people with acid reflux. Fat is known to relax the LES and this keeps the stomach open and the esophagus becomes more susceptible to damage due to acidic backflow.

    Due to increased saturated fats, the food shows delayed digestion and remains in the stomach for a long time.

    The esophageal lining remains in contact with the acid for a long time as well, resulting in severe damage to the lining.

    Thus, if you have acid reflux, you may avoid deep-fried foods and high-fat foods such as full-fat dairy, French fries, potato chips, bacon fat, ham fat, and creamy salad dressings.

  5. Peppermint

    Peppermint has been used as a part of traditional medicines because of its soothing properties.

    However, the soothing and relaxing properties of peppermint can act as a trigger for people with GERD.

    Peppermint has muscle-relaxant properties and it acts on the LES and relaxes it, resulting in keeping it open during the process of digestion.

    This causes the flow of acid in the esophagus. Along with that, it has been observed that in response to high doses of peppermint consistently, the LES loosens with time and causes the symptoms of acid reflux to worsen.

  6. Vinegar

    Vinegar is highly acidic and may act as an instant trigger for people with acid reflux. It is made of acetic acid is known to be a mild irritant for the lining of the esophagus and increases the acidity of the stomach.  It can even cause ulcers if not consumed moderately.

    Apple cider vinegar was once thought to be a good choice for people who have heartburn. However, no specific research explains ACV could be considered good or effective for heartburn or reduce its symptoms.

  7. Alcohol

    Consumption of alcohol by people who have acid reflux problems has been shown to worsen the condition in them.

    It significantly increases the production of acid in the stomach and increases the strength of the acid as well. Other than that, alcohol itself damages the mucosal lining of the stomach and esophagus.

    This reduces the protective mucosal covering on the GIT and the acid directly comes in contact with the lining of the esophagus and causes inflammation of the lining also known as esophagitis.

  8. Allium Vegetables

    Allium vegetables like shallots, garlic, and onions contain fermentable fibers. These fibers may interact with the gut bacteria during the digestion process and might reduce their efficiency.

    They could also increase the levels of stomach acid tremendously. Although garlic has many health benefits, it can act as a trigger for people with acid reflux.

    It might irritate and inflame the lining of the esophagus and could cause a slight amount of acid which could burn the cells of the esophageal canal.

  9. Dairy Products

    Dairy products such as milk and full-fat cream often worsen the symptoms of acid reflux. This is because of the presence of high fats in them.

    It takes longer to get digested and remains in the stomach for 3-4 hours. This increased exposure to gastric juices, specifically the acid causes severe burning of the lining of GIT.

    A recent study conducted in 2021 also claims that people with cow milk allergy are more prone to acid reflux than people who do not have this allergy. However, since the allergy is rare, more research needs to be done.

  10. Bread

    Regular white bread is made of refined grains and contains gluten. This may aggravate the symptoms of acid reflux in people who are sensitive to gluten.

    According to a study, people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance were more likely to have acid reflux after consuming any kind of refined grains.

    Also, a study showed the effect of carbohydrates on acid reflux and claimed that after consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates, more reflux symptoms were shown.

    If you feel that white bread doesn’t suit you, you can switch to whole grain bread such as oatmeal bread and sprouted whole grain bread.

    However, if you feel that all types of bread give you acid reflux, you may completely eliminate it from your diet. Thus, you may try to follow a gluten-free diet that could prevent the recurrence of GERD.

Conclusion

Occasionally having acid reflux is nothing to worry about. If the symptoms are persistent and worsening, you should immediately take action.

Eliminate all foods that aggravate your condition, from your diet and eat foods that are light and fulfilling. In case the food cannot be completely eliminated, talk to your doctor and find alternatives.

It is suggested to eat digestion-friendly food to reduce acid reflux but avoiding triggering foods as mentioned above, have proven to reduce the intensity. Make sure you keep track of all the foods that give you acid reflux or worsen the symptoms.

If the severity of your symptoms is not reducing and you’re having trouble swallowing and are experiencing extreme pain, consult your gastroenterologist.

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