Acid reflux and its most common symptom, heartburn, affect so many millions of people worldwide.
The reasons why this happens are many, however, there is one factor which undoubtedly is the most important.
It’s about eating habits and related lifestyle.
Foods are the most relevant factor when it comes to acid reflux, and heartburn as well.
Now, the question is: what are foods to avoid in acid reflux?
The general rule we have to always keep in mind is made by two strong points:
- First of all, foods are the #1 risk factor for getting acid reflux
- Second, foods are the #1 domain of intervention when it comes to treating acid reflux and all related symptoms
In other words, when dealing with acid reflux, we have to remember that everything has to do with eating habits.
If you work well on foods and lifestyle, you can 100% avoid the need for prescription medications and/or dangerous chemical drugs.
Even more important, you can avoid serious complications.
This is possible because foods and eating habits represent the most important part of the real, root cause of acid reflux.
People who suffer from heartburn and reflux have to deal with many symptoms, but they can be solved at once, by working on the real causes of this disease.
To do that, there’s a simple thing to start.
It’s about removing some foods from your diet.
As we’re going to see, there really are no “poisons”, however, you should drastically reduce the intake of some ascertained promoting factors for reflux.
So, let’s dive deeper into the topic, which will bring you many benefits by simply letting you know what not to do.
Foods To Avoid In Acid Reflux: Everything Starts Here
Before to start, we want to underline a very important scientific evidence.
Another important thing to remember is that reflux sufferers can often experience a burning sensation in the stomach or chest after eating a full meal or certain foods.
This fact, especially when happening frequently, can seriously impair the quality of life, with additional consequences.
In some cases, vomiting and regurgitation can also occur.
Another general rule is the following:
That’s why above anything else, we suggest keeping (at least for 1 week) a food diary to track everything has to do with foods, in particular:
Eating time can also play a role in people who suffer from different diseases. There’a very interesting study, released in 2018 by Ehime University, Japan, according to which late-night dinner may be positively associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The same study did not found any correlation between GERD and other habits, generally considered as promoting factors for the disease, namely skipping breakfast, bedtime snacking and fast eating.
It might seem a bit “tricky” and annoying to do, however, it’s worth a lot.
The first category of foods to include in the list is spicy foods.
Spices are an important factor able to trigger reflux, unless you refer to some special natural healers, like turmeric, for instance.
This category of foods is very much influenced by local habits: for example, according to a specific study carried out in Korea, about the relationships between local cuisine and reflux (with heartburn), it has been noted that some typical foods, such as hot spicy stews, rice cakes, ramen noodles, fried foods, and topokki were the foods frequently inducing typical symptoms.
The conclusion is extremely important: the list of foods that are able to induce reflux and its symptoms needs to be modified based on the specific, local experience.
Very special attention should be dedicated to the onion, garlic and how these foods are added to the diet.
They are proven to trigger heartburn symptoms in many people.
Some other people, however, still can eat them, that’s why keeping your diary will give you the right answers to what to do.
Another important category of foods to avoid is fatty foods.
Just like spicy foods, they both can cause the LES to relax, allowing more stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
Another important action of high-fat foods is the delayed gastric emptying, which is bad for reflux because it gives more time to the gastric content to go up.
This is the reason for the prolonged exposure of the esophagus to acid.
A very interesting finding suggests that high-fat foods can provoke reflux, but additional spices, however, do not further increase reflux.
As you can see, general recommendations are good, however, due to the varying effects, personal experience is essential to create YOUR list foods to avoid acid reflux.
Salted foods are also present in the list.
However, it has been noted that people with good health are much less sensitive to the damaging action of salted foods.
That’s why we should consider it a high-risk factor only for people who already are dealing with reflux and heartburn.
Drinks to avoid with acid reflux
Some beverages can act on the LES and make it relax.
This happens with sparkling water, for instance.
However, it has been noted that drinking sparkling water far from meals is better because there is no content in the stomach that can go up into the esophagus.
There’s another type of water we want to talk about: it’s the hydrogen carbonated-rich water.
In fact, the specific content of this water (check the table below) makes it good for people who suffer from reflux and related symptoms.
This water brings benefits to both males and females, even with the concomitant presence of other digestive tract diseases or conditions.
Along with them, reflux sufferers must avoid sugary drinks, while when it comes to alcohol there are so many considerations to make because this topic is definitely not simple as it might seem.
Coffee and caffeine have a very peculiar relationship with acid reflux and heartburn, which goes far beyond the simple action that coffee exerts on the LES.
To be honest, sugary drinks should be avoided by all the people, reflux sufferers or not.
Does dairy cause acid reflux?
Dairy products need more detailed analysis, because of different outcomes reported by people affected by heartburn and reflux.
In general, dairy products are able to trigger reflux.
This because of their action on gastric emptying, which is more prolonged.
This makes reflux more likely to occur, in addition, dairy products are also related to some food intolerance.
However, there are some products of this category that are good for reflux, such as yogurt, or alternative kinds of milk, like almond milk.
They are not precisely “dairy” products, but they are much safer and people who suffer from reflux can get great benefits for health.
Personal experience is essential to evaluate your tolerance and the occurrence of common reflux symptoms (like heartburn) after the consumption of this kind of product.
Fruits to avoid with acid reflux
There are several fruits, and related juices, to avoid because they are strongly acidic and can trigger reflux.
In fact, people who suffer from heartburn must avoid acidic juices, such as citrus juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, lime juice, salsa, and grapefruit juice.
What we’ve considered it also applies to raw fruits because they all are acidic and this triggers reflux and all related symptoms.
Foods To Avoid With Heartburn
We decided to give an answer to three very frequently asked questions.
They are about some specific foods, which hide something that deserves to be better known.
On the other hand, there are foods able to determine reflux without perceived symptoms.
We want to point out this thing, because in some cases it may appear that you’re removing “bad” food from your diet, but you can’t base your decision on felt symptoms only.
That being said, the questions we want to answer concern chocolate, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Can chocolate give you heartburn?
Chocolate is considered one of the foods to avoid for people who suffer from acid reflux.
It has an important action on the LES, however, there are some additional considerations to make about it.
Generally speaking, you should avoid it, or at least reduce its consumption to prevent the situation to become worse.
Do tomatoes cause heartburn?
Despite there are many fruits and vegetables that are good for helping people who suffer from acid reflux, there are others that, on the other hand, can make things worse.
Tomato, and its juice, it’s one of them.
That being said, we want to report a very interesting study carried out in 2018, about the role of tomato as an adjuvant component within a special diet for reducing reflux.
Findings suggest that a carbohydrate-free diet, that is enriched with acid pH foods (including tomato) might seem to lower the pH of gastric content.
This leads to a reduction of the production of hydrochloric acid, and, as a direct consequence, the reduction or disappearance of heartburn symptoms.
Acidity is not the main factor for reflux to occur, however, in the presence of less acidic stomach content in the esophagus, there’s a less serious inflammation.
Do strawberries cause heartburn?
Many people are asking this thing.
Strawberries are considered as “good” food and several drugs for reflux (like Lansoprazole) use their flavor to make suspension-granules tastier.
These fruits could be able to attenuate high-fat diet-induced postprandial oxidative stress and also inflammation, as well as postprandial hyperglycemia.
That’s why they could be good food for reflux sufferers.
In addition, there is evidence of digestive (especially gastric) anti-inflammatory activity of strawberries, due to their content in tannins.
The bottom line, strawberries are among the currently most studied fruits for their potential benefits to human health, that’s why you should consider them with interest.
Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux
In the previous sections, we analyzed some of the most common foods able to determine acid reflux and its related symptoms, with heartburn on top of all.
Now, we want to add something about foods that are more widely consumed and often less associated with the possibility of triggering reflux.
Meat is an interesting case to consider.
In fact, depending on the type, things are different.
- Lean meat, such as chicken (not fried) is good
- Red meat, on the contrary, is not suggested for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux
This because meat has generally high content in fatty acid and cholesterol.
The alternate consumption of lean and red meat over the week can make things totally unpredictable. That’s why you want to write down everything in your food diary.
Foods rich in saturated fats are also important triggers for heartburn.
This type is made of “unhealthy” fats, as you can find in pork, poultry skin, beef fat, lard, and cream.
A special mention to cheese and butter, that are part of this category as well.
Other foods to remember are grains. In fact, if you’re eating dishes like “spaghetti and marinara sauce”, or “macaroni and cheese”, you can experience troubles.
In this case, seasoning plays an essential role, which leads to an important consideration.
There are some foods that are not generally related to reflux and heartburn, however, the way you prepare and eat them is what transforms them into something to avoid.
The food diary can help you a lot also in all such cases.
The point is that it’s possible to eat the wrong foods without knowing that they should be avoided.
There’s a rising concern about some little known factors because of which reflux can turn into GERD more easily.
Foods that aggravate GERD: a long-term game
If a person keeps eating reflux-triggering foods, and perhaps he/she has little symptoms or doesn’t care about them, things become progressively worse.
However, it’s not always simple to precisely recognize what foods are bad in YOUR case, because of the individual variability.
But there’s another factor that’s still is too underestimated.
It’s about food intolerance.
In fact, it has been observed that people with typical reflux symptoms, also seem to have an intolerance to multiple food items.
Many of such foods have not yet been associated with gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Among them, there are:
- brewer’s yeast
The most frequent intolerance, however, is for milk, which represents another extremely important chapter of what causes heartburn and acid reflux.
Food intolerance is then a thing to investigate more, and we can expect some interesting findings in the year to come.
In the meantime, the question is: do you know “if” and “to what” foods might you be intolerant?
The answer to this question is particularly important, especially for the long-term.
Worst foods for acid reflux
In general terms, you must remove from your diet foods that present the top-three following features:
There are more and more factors able to cause reflux because the disease always is the result of a “battle” between risk factors and the body’s defenses.
That’s why is so important that you listen to your body and track in your diary everything has to do with foods that you eat, on a daily basis.
The final goal is to create your own list of worst foods to avoid, then integrate your diet with the best options to choose from (for that, refer to the final paragraph “What To Do Next”).
Baby reflux: foods to avoid
In the majority of cases, reflux is a physiological self-resolving phenomenon in infants.
However, when the natural resolution of this phenomenon does not occur by 6 – 12 months, something has to be done.
Infants with prolonged reflux may present a series of related symptoms, such as:
- chest discomfort
- abdominal pain
- poor appetite
- poor weight gain
Bottle-fed infants may benefit from feeding with feed-thickeners. There still is limited evidence of that, however, first observations are encouraging.
Unfortunately, there are no data for breastfed infants. However, breastfeeding seems protective from reflux, while feeding infants with any formula makes them more likely to develop reflux and/or regurgitation.
In other cases, the presence of poor growth and reflux (or vomiting) are related to feeding difficulties. This often happens when non-IgE-mediated food allergies are ascertained.
Another important thing to consider is the supposed optimal neonatal feeding interval.
Several studies established the average stomach size of the newborn around 20 ml.
Starting from this, the optimal neonatal feeding interval is approx. 1 hour.
Whatever the case, there are some currently accepted guidelines for the treatment of reflux episodes in infants and children. We report them directly from the original publication.
The same guidelines for treatment also highlight that the use of promoters of gastric emptying and motility needs the highest precaution measures.
Finally, it seems that PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are currently overprescribed in the pediatric population, and this is a risk for serious side-effects.
So, despite being so young, we read once again about the importance of working on lifestyle and eating habits, while prescription medications and chemical drugs are the last options.
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Acid Reflux From Not Eating
There are a variety of factors that can trigger reflux even far from meals.
It depends on lifestyle, stress, exercise, even a too-tight belt.
There’s a comprehensive study that summarizes some of the most relevant habits that can affect the occurrence of heartburn and reflux far from meals.
They generally are:
- too tight belt
In addition, the same study also suggests special attention to elderly people, because they are more likely to develop GERD under these circumstances.
Another factor that can encourage reflux away from meals or during a fast is a pharmacological treatment.
That said, there’s another study that shows something worth to note.
It’s about the occurrence of GERD symptoms during Ramadan.
The Ramadan fasting group of people observed showed less severe symptoms if compared to non-fasting months.
The conclusion is that the presence of foods is essential for symptoms to occur, that’s why working on the diet is best.
Foods That Help Acid Reflux Go Away
Eating habits and lifestyle are the pillars of healing your acid reflux.
There is not so much to add, in fact, you only have to know what to eat, when, and how.
But this is the second part of comprehensive action to get rid of reflux.
The first, essential, thing to do is start avoiding what we’ve considered as foods to avoid in acid reflux.
If you follow a good diet plan, but you also include some foods to avoid, or if you don’t get rid of some”reflux promoting factors”, such as stress and also anxiety, your effort will be useless.
It’s so important to track everything in your food diary, then remove everything triggers reflux.
Then you can start including in the diet the right foods, according to the most successful treatments you can follow.
If you’re just starting out, we strongly recommend adopting a holistic approach to cure root causes and slow down symptoms in a short time.
Then, you’ll learn what to do to keep your reflux without symptoms for years to come.
In addition, always remember that each food has its own action, and you must know it in advance, especially if you’re dealing with local cuisine and you’re not perfectly aware of the specific ingredients.
Local foods, and also their specific ways of preparation, are very important, that’s why you must strive to always know what the components of food really are.
It may sound a bit complicated, or boring, but it’s really worth.
There are so many foods to avoid in acid reflux, and we know that the list we provide is not complete.
However, you can remember and write down the following 37 takeaways.
One more time, we want to point out the importance of keeping a food diary that will help you identify the worst foods for your specific case.
Only them you’ll start creating your food plan, according to the guidelines provided by the resources we suggest in the following paragraph.
The last, but not least, consideration is that you must not base your eating habits on what you hear from other people, because every person is different.
What To Do Next
Now, it’s time to take direct action.
We want to recommend the following 4 complete strategies to win your battle against reflux disease in the shortest possible time.
Full Programs For Acid Reflux
Are you looking for the best "all-in-one" natural treatments for heartburn and acid reflux?
If so, please check these complete and deep resources to learn how to treat reflux fast.
You're going to find what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat, and much more.
The 5-Step System
3 Best Ingredients
The Reflux Report
Take your time to read, and feel free to integrate the information you find in two or more of the following resources, to create the best program for your case.
You may have to integrate them with some specific additional information, especially if you’re overweight and/or you’re looking for special dieting programs.
In the meantime, we want to thank you for your attention and your patience.
More interesting news and suggestions are coming.