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How to Choose Foods for Your Acid Reflux Diet | Stop Acid Reflux Now

How to Choose Foods for Your Acid Reflux Diet

Bananas and many other foods are a safe and beneficial part of a diet for acid reflux.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all foods.  There are many types of foods that can trigger or make acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn, worse.  The following is information regarding five common types of foods linked to acid reflux, as well as suggestions for acid reflux friendly alternatives.

Fatty foods – Foods high in fat (I.E. red meat, sausages, bacon, ham, fast food, most processed foods) tend to be harder to digest and remain in the stomach longer.  The longer food stays within the stomach, the higher the risk of acid reflux because there is a delay in the stomach emptying its contents. 

Alternative:  You need to avoid fatty foods and eliminate them whenever possible from your diet.  Opt instead for lean white meat, fish and eggs, instead of red meat, and if you eat meat on occasion, eat only a small portion of lean meat that is grilled or baked - never fried!

Fried and spicy foods – Spicy foods (I.E. black pepper, Chile peppers, Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisine.) and foods that are deep fried, fried in butter or stir fried (I.E. potato chips, fried tortilla chips, French fries, fried rice, etc.) can be hard to digest, increase acid production, and relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), all of which increases the possibility of acid reflux. 

Alternative: Use herbs to add zing to your meals and limit the amount of spice you put in your food. Instead of deep or pan frying, bake, steam or broil (grill) most of your food.

Dairy products –Dairy products (I.E. milk, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream made from real cream, etc.), especially when consumed frequently or before bed, tend to encourage acid production and can cause heartburn. 

Alternative: If you are not allergic to dairy products, you can still enjoy them in moderation, but they should be consumed in small quantities during the daytime.  If, on occasion, you wish to have a glass of milk at night, accompany the milk with a food high in carbohydrates (I.E. bread) to help speed up digestion and minimize acid production.

Caffeinated and carbonated beverages – Carbonated beverages (I.E. soda and carbonated water) trigger burping, which, in turn, can encourage acid reflux. Caffeinated beverages (I.E. soda, coffee, tea and decaffeinated coffee) also encourage acid reflux because they cause the LES to relax. 

Alternative:  The ideal beverage is plain water.  However, if you would like to include a warm drink in your diet for acid reflux, warm water with honey, herbal tea, or caffeine free coffee are ideal options.  If you wish to drink soda, drink non-caffeinated soda and let it go flat before drinking to reduce the carbonation. 

Citrus fruits – Citrus fruits (I.E. oranges, pineapples, lemons, limes, etc.) trigger acid reflux because they stimulate acid production in your stomach.

Alternatives:  Although citrus fruits should be avoided, there are many other fruits  such as bananas and apples that you can eat, and are considered very beneficial at suppressing acid and treating acid reflux symptoms.  Other fruits that can be added to a diet for acid reflux are berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Keep in mind, though many of the alternative food suggestions are suitable for the majority of acid reflux sufferers, every person responds differently to food.  Therefore, it is important that you find out which foods trigger your symptoms so you can limit and avoid these foods when creating your diet for acid reflux.

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10 Responses

  1. Nireen
    January 31st, 2008 | 5:18 pm

    I think the article is really helpful. Thanks.
    I was wondering, however, you did mention that some foods such as fried and spicy foods and carbonated beverages relax the LES, are there any foods that can strengthen the LES?

  2. david
    January 31st, 2008 | 5:27 pm

    I find that most soups trigger horrible acid reflux…even the home-made types like home made lentil or home made turkey soup. Do other people find this? Why do soups trigger acid reflux?

  3. Catherine
    January 31st, 2008 | 8:21 pm

    I’ve heard from several sources that although lemons are acidic, they turn to alkali in the digestive process. Is this wrong in your opinion?

  4. February 1st, 2008 | 6:09 am

    Nireen -

    There are a number of medical treatments and drugs that strengthen the LES.

    However, the LES may not need strengthening but healing. Often the LES (or nearby tissue) has been damaged or scared by the refluxed acid, and so the LES cannot perform it’s task of stopping the acid refluxing properly.

    What is often needed is to reduce the acid reflux so that the damage can be given time to heal properly. When the LES is healed it can often create a tight seal to keep acid in it’s proper place.

    Try removing the trigger foods from your diet and give your LES time to heal, and then slowly reintroduce foods over time to see if this has made a difference.

    David -
    I am assuming the soups are not tomato based as that is a notorious trigger food?

    Also, bear in mind that hot foods trigger acid reflux in many people - So you could try allowing the soup to cool closer to room temperature.

    Or it could be that you are not getting enough enzymes when eating the soup.

    As soup does not require chewing people often swallow if straight down without allowing the digestive process to start in the mouth. Try slowing down and “chewing” the soup in the mouth before swallowing (this also adds alkalizing saliva to the soup which reduces acid reflux)

    Another way to add digestive enzymes is to eat raw fruit or veg before eating the soup - and this will also help add bulk to the meal to reduce reflux.

    Catherine -
    Yes Lemons are believed to be be highly alkaline when digested/digesting them. Although, before assuming they are going to be good for relieving acid reflux only try a small sample and see how your particular digestive system copes with them.

  5. Harriett Halmon
    February 1st, 2008 | 5:10 pm

    The article was very helpful. Sometimes I feel I am at the end of the rope. I have eliminated the trigger foods that you have identified. I am at an ideal weight and exercise routinely. I figured out that dairy was bad for me, so I have eliminated that. I drink water (iced). I even sleep with my head propped up, but am still feeling most, if not all, of the sypmtoms of GERD (pain in chest, burning in throat, etc.) Any suggestions?

  6. Kokila Amin
    February 7th, 2008 | 12:01 am

    Dear Catherine;
    Thanks for the essential information regarding Acid reflux.I suffer from night heartburn almost every night especially 2-3 o’clock in the morning. I take Protonix in the morning evryday. yet I suffer night heartburn.I’ll appreciate if you guide me to stay out from night heart burn.Thanks.

  7. Dan
    February 7th, 2008 | 10:28 pm

    Hi Kathryn,

    The How to Modify Your Diet for Acid Reflux article in the Caffeinated and carbonated beverages section mentions:

    Caffeinated beverages (I.E. soda, coffee, tea and decaffeinated coffee) also encourage acid reflux because they cause the LES to relax.

    then follows up with:

    However, if you would like to include a warm beverage in your diet for acid reflux, warm water with honey, herbal tea, or caffeine free coffee are ideal options.

    Is there a difference in decaffeinated coffee vs caffiene free coffee?

    Honestly, I never heard or seen anything labled caffeine free coffee.


  8. February 15th, 2008 | 2:56 am

    Harriet - Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing troubling symptoms. You don’t mention whether you’ve had acid reflux diagnosed. If you haven’t then that must be your first step. It’s best not to guess at a diagnosis. If you have had acid reflux or GERD diagnosed it could be that dairy is not the only problem for you. visiting a dietician may be something you want to consider or alternatively some natural remedies maybe suitable. As you don’t mention any medications I’m guessing you’re not too keen on that route.

    Kokila - although you’re taking meds you don’t mention whether you’re managing your reflux through diet and lifestyle changes. To avoid night time reflux refrain from eating 3 hours before bedtime. Prop your head and shoulders up in bed either with a couple of pillows or with a special acid reflux pillow. You can also try lying on your left side as this discourages reflux.
    Have a look at the following:

    Acid Reflux pillow - http://www.naturally-stop-acid.....illow.html
    Lifestyle management - http://naturally-stop-acid-ref.....heartburn/

    Dan - decaffeinated coffee is on the list of things to avoid as although the amount of caffeine is much lower in decaf, it is still present. Therefore, someone drinking a number of cups of decaf coffee a day could in theory be taking in the equivilent caffeine as found in one or two cups of normal coffee.
    (Reference: http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....185602.htm)

    Caffeine free coffee on the other hand is not coffee in the traditional sense - it’s generally referred to as grain coffee which uses grains or other plant materials that you make in similar way to coffee, looks like coffee and tastes very much like coffee. A commonly found option is chicory root, which is ground and brewed like coffee. There are some commercial coffee substitutes that act like instant coffee. Have a look in your local health store.

  9. Kokila Amin
    March 16th, 2008 | 11:26 pm

    Dear Kathy;
    Thanks, but i’m using the wedge pillow for very long time of period; I also follow your suggestions you’d given long time ago still I get night heart burn. I rarely eat fried or fatty food. I forget to mention that I drink juice made with carrots, cellary, cabbage. apple and black or red grapes every mid-morning. ( between 9-11 A.M.). Do you think that cause night heart burn? Pl. advise me. Thanks.
    kokila Amin

  10. March 21st, 2008 | 7:19 am

    Hi Kokila

    If you think your morning drink is contributing to your nightime reflux I would suggest that you go without for a couple of weeks to see if that makes a difference.

    If you’re still struggling with nighttime reflux then have a look at how you eat as well as what you eat.

    Avoid large meals (even if the ingredients are acid reflux friendly) as eating too much in one go can put pressure on your LES and encourage reflux.

    Chew your food well to give your saliva a chance to mix well with your food. The digestion process starts in your mouth. Aim for 20 - 30 chews per mouthful.

    If you’re still suffering after making all the necessary lifestyle changes I would suggest going back to your doctor to discuss options. It may be you need a different medication to allow any damage in the esophagus to heal or a small surgical treatment to tighten your LES may be needed.

    If acid reflux symptoms persist despite best efforts other to control it, it is important to seek medical advise in case there is another underlying condition causing the reflux.