Acid reflux happens when acid from your stomach comes up into your esophagus and causes symptoms such as heartburn. Your diet may have something to do with it, so it’s a good idea to know which foods may help acid reflux. It may also be helpful to know that a low acid coffee, such as Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee, can be a good choice on this type of diet.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition that happens when acid from your stomach comes up into your esophagus. When it happens regularly, you may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
The reason acid can come up into the esophagus is due to trouble with the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. The LES is a ring-like muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach. It should close after you eat so that contents from your stomach can’t come up into the esophagus. When the LES weakens or relaxes when it shouldn’t, acid from the stomach can rise and cause symptoms.
These are some symptoms of acid reflux.
Heartburn, or a painful, burning sensation in the chest.
Burping, especially with an acidic taste.
Sore throat or dry cough.
Feeling a lump in your throat.
Some people are at higher risk for acid reflux. These are some examples.
Bariatric surgery patients.
Women who are pregnant.
People who are overweight or obese.
People who smoke.
People who drink higher amounts of alcohol.
Acid reflux can be a sign of a serious condition, and it can lead to serious complications, so ask your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of acid reflux. It’s important to keep it under control to prevent complications.
Foods on an Acid Reflux Diet
No food will cure acid reflux, but there are some foods that are less likely to trigger it, especially when you choose them instead of higher-risk alternatives.
Non-Starchy and Starchy Vegetables:
These choices are high in fiber and low in fat. Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas are a few examples. Be sure to have them without frying them or drowning them in buttery or creamy sauces.
Fruit is also high in fiber and low in fat. Bananas, apples, pears, apricots, plums, peaches, grapes, and berries are some examples. Just stay away from citrus fruits if you’re concerned about a high acid content.
Choose lean sources of protein instead of fattier sources, and you might experience less acid reflux. Examples include skinless chicken breast, fish, shellfish, and egg whites. Egg yolks have saturated fat in them and may be more likely to trigger symptoms.
Even though fatty foods can trigger acid reflux, healthy fats can be good for the condition. Examples of sources include nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, vegetable oils such as canola and sunflower oils, avocados, and olive oil.
They’re high in fiber, low in sugar, and linked to lower risk for acid reflux. Examples include oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. It’s easy to swap whole grains for your regular refined grains.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory. You may also have heard about it being used for reasons such as reducing nausea or decreasing symptoms of indigestion. You can put fresh ginger in smoothies or try ginger tea.
Foods to Limit on an Acid Reflux Diet
There are some foods that may be more likely to increase your risk of having symptoms of acid reflux. These are some groups, though not all of them may affect you.
Fried foods are greasy and packed with excess fats. Examples include French fries, onion rings, fried chicken and shrimp, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and fried cheese sticks. Ordering grilled, baked, or broiled foods instead can help you limit these foods.
Ribs, bacon, sausage, fatty steaks, and other fatty meats can trigger symptoms. So can full-fat dairy products, full-fat cheeses and other dairy products, creamy salads and salad dressings, and buttery sauces. Anything with excess fats can put you at risk.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are in the same family, and they both have a compound that can relax the LES and increase the risk for acid reflux.
Spicy foods can lead to heartburn or acid reflux. Often, ethnic foods can be spicier than you may be used to, and can lead to symptoms. Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and Korean foods are just a few examples of commonly spicy cuisines.
Tomatoes are acidic, and tomatoes and tomato-based products can both be triggers. Pasta sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, and ketchup are all common sources of tomatoes. It may be safer to put pesto or olive oil and basil on your pasta instead of a tomato-based sauce.
Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines. Their juices are also high in acid. If you want to have fruit with vitamin C but without as much acid or a high risk of getting acid reflux, consider strawberries or cantaloupe.
Chocolate has a compound that relaxes the LES. It also is a natural source of caffeine, which can lead to acid reflux if you’re prone. Dark chocolate or 100% unsweetened chocolate is most likely to trigger acid reflux.
Mint can increase the risk of acid reflux symptoms. Even small amounts like in gum and breath mints can have negative effects. If you like finishing a meal with a mint or some gum, consider brushing your teeth instead.
It’s hard to narrow down the foods or beverages that trigger symptoms of acid reflux. What is a trigger for some people may not be a trigger for others. It’s best to work with your healthcare provider to try to figure out which foods may be triggers for you, and which may not be harmful for you. Using a food and symptom diary can help you try to identify patterns.
How to Drink Coffee on a Low-Acid Diet
Coffee is a high-acid beverage. If you’re on a low-acid diet, you might automatically assume you can’t have coffee. But that’s not necessarily the case. You can limit the amount of acid in your coffee if you select a brand with less acid.
Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee has less acid than the average of many national brands, including Starbucks and Dunkin’. It’s lower in total acid content and chlorogenic acid, which is the most potent acid in coffee.
Another concern with coffee if you have acid reflux is the caffeine content. Caffeine is a trigger for acid reflux. It increases the amount of acid your stomach produces. It also relaxes the LES so you’re more likely to get reflux. Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee comes in a Half Caff and Decaf version as well, so you can choose whether you want caffeine and how much to have.
More Tips for an Acid Reflux Diet
Along with what you eat, an acid reflux diet can include how you eat it. These are some tips for lowering your risk for getting symptoms of acid reflux.
Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
Have small portions.
Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
Don’t eat too soon before exercising intensely or doing exercises while lying down, such as mat pilates, yoga, or sit-ups.
It’s also worth considering that being overweight or obese can increase the risk of acid reflux. Over the long term, a diet that is lower in calories, higher in fiber, and lower in sugars and excess calories can help with weight loss and possibly with acid reflux. That means your diet might:
Be high in fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins such as egg whites, beans, fish, and chicken.
Include moderate amounts of whole grains and healthy fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts.
Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, desserts, and other sugar-sweetened foods.
Limit refined grains, fried foods, processed meats, and fatty foods.
If you’re drinking coffee and trying to lose weight, making your own at home can help. Prepared coffee drinks from coffee shops can be high in sugar and calories. If you start with a gourmet coffee, such as Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee, at home, you have the chance to use sugar substitutes, sugar-free sweeteners, and lower-calorie milk.
Acid reflux is uncomfortable and it can cause harm if it’s not controlled. If your doctor puts you on a diet to help acid reflux, it’s important to follow it carefully and stay in touch with your provider to make sure symptoms are controlled. On a low-acid diet, it can be best to choose a brand of coffee that’s lower in acid, such as Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee. One sip, and we are sure you’ll be hooked!