9 Foods to Avoid if You Have Acid Reflux

That uncomfortable feeling just above your chest – most of us have experienced it at one time or another. It’s the dreaded acid reflux.

Acid reflux happens when your stomach acid travels up your throat, causing an unpleasant burning sensation. But did you know that you can minimize the symptoms and get some much-needed acid reflux relief by simply taking an antacid and avoiding some common foods?

Here are nine common foods you should avoid (or eliminate) if you suffer from heartburn, indigestion, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

1. Fatty Foods

Most people know that fatty foods like bacon, fast food, fried food, and any food with a high fat content can exacerbate acid reflux. It’s best to limit (or completely avoid) processed deli meats, mayonnaise, sour cream, gravy, and fast or fried foods.

Surprisingly, avocados also contain a high amount of fat – as well as some salad dressings. Substitute fatty condiments like mayonnaise and ranch salad dressing with the reduced-fat or fat-free versions whenever you can, and substitute butter for margarine.

2. Tomatoes

Although tomatoes are good for your health and contain antioxidants, they are naturally high in acid, which can make your acid reflux symptoms worse. Fresh tomatoes are the most acidic, and canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and other tomato products are next on the list.

Many people with acid reflux or heartburn find that they can still eat small quantities of tomato products, though – so experiment to find your tolerance level.

3. Caffeine

While most of us need a cuppa to start the day, your morning cup of coffee could actually be making your acid reflux worse. Coffee is not just acidic, caffeine also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows a backflow of stomach acid to enter your throat.

Although coffee and tea are the biggest culprits when it comes to high caffeine content, there is hidden caffeine in many soda drinks and chocolate.

Try to swap out your coffee and tea for decaf, and avoid other coffees with a high fat content, like cappuccinos, frappuccinos, and lattes.

4. Full-Fat Dairy

It used to be thought that milk could treat heartburn, but today we know that full-fat products like cream and milk actually make acid reflux worse, not better.

To minimize your acid reflux symptoms, try to stick to fat-free skim milk instead – this also applies to cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Or, if you like, you can switch to non-animal milk like soy, almond, coconut, or oat milk.

5. Citrus Fruits

As we know, acidic foods can make acid reflux and GERD worse. Limit the citrus fruit in your diet or avoid oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruit altogether. Pineapple, while not a citrus fruit, also contains a high amount of acid, so you should avoid it as well.

You should also watch out for canned and frozen citrus fruit, as well as fruit juices that contain a lot of pineapple or citrus. Apples and grapes are good substitutes and will provide fiber and nutrients without causing an acid reflux flare-up.

6. Spearmint and Peppermint

Spearmint and peppermint can also cause your heartburn to flare up, and combinations like mint chocolate and ice cream can wreak even more havoc on your gut because fat can also contribute to acid reflux.

Watch out for mint and spearmint in your herbal tea, and read the labels on your food to make sure you’re not unknowingly consuming it.

7. Garlic, Onions, and Spicy Foods

Spicy food that contains chilies, onions, and garlic can cause serious acid reflux and indigestion. Avoid curries, spicy Asian food, and Tex-Mex.

If you can’t avoid these foods, then try to limit your intake by eating them in smaller quantities or less frequently – doing this will satisfy your cravings and prevent severe acid reflux and indigestion symptoms.

8. Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks relax your lower esophageal sphincter, which allows acid to travel up the throat and leak into your esophagus – that’s why alcohol is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to acid reflux.

Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages or avoid them altogether if you want to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.

9. Carbonated Drinks

Even though many carbonated sodas also have acid-reflux inducing quantities of caffeine, you want to try to avoid all carbonated drinks or limit the amount you drink. On its own, carbonation churns up stomach acid, leaving you with acid reflux.

Aside from heartburn and a high amount of calories, carbonated sodas have little to no nutritional value. Try to replace them with healthier options, like flavored waters, decaffeinated tea, and water.

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