Avoid the Burn: 6 Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux

Avoid the Burn: 6 Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux

By Dr. Peter Klapper Ph.D.

If you deal with symptoms of acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) you know how frustrating it can be to deal with heartburn after eating your favorite foods. While triggers of acid reflux can vary for everyone, symptoms tend to result in heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain due to stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus. So, if this sounds like you, and you’re not sure what foods to avoid, we have “6 Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux” below.

1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, pineapple and tangerines are considered to be potential triggers for acid reflux due to their high acidic nature. The acidity from these fruits can contribute to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.

Great substitutes: Bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, dates, figs, berries, papaya, and nectarines.

2. Spicy Foods
Foods that are generally spicy and overly seasoned can irritate the esophagus and worsen acid reflux symptoms.

Great substitutes: Seasonings and herbs such as basil, cilantro, ginger, thyme, rosemary are great alternatives to cayenne, curry, paprika and cinnamon. 

3. Tomatoes and Tomato-based Products
Like citrus fruit, tomatoes are acidic and can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn. That said, tomato sauces, ketchup, and marinara sauce should all be avoided.

Great substitutes: Sub out the tomato sauce for a light olive oil dressing or pesto. Tip: try adding a little baking soda or grated carrots to tomato sauce to help neutralize the acids.

4. Coffee and Caffeinated Beverages
When consuming caffeine, it relaxes the LES which can increase acid reflux. Caffeine also increases the release of acid in your stomach causing it to reflux back into the esophagus.

Great substitutes: Teas such as chamomile and ginger can alleviate indigestion and calm the digestive tract. Other great options include non-citrus fruit juice such as apple juice, almond milk and water.

While delicious, chocolate is both acidic and high in fat, which can trigger symptoms of heartburn.

Great substitutes: If chocolate is an issue, try subbing it for a less acidic option such as carob powder or alkalized cocoa.

6. Fatty and Fried Foods
Fried foods are high in fat, which make eating fried and fatty foods bad for you for many reasons, but specifically, it can slow digestion and increase the risk of acid reflux.

Great substitutes: Sub out the French fries doused in oil for a simpler baked option such as sweet potato wedges. By swapping out the fried foods for baking, grilling, roasting or even poaching your favorite foods, you can decrease symptoms of heartburn.

Moving Forward
While hard to give up your favorite foods, making a few changes in your diet can improve your quality of life, especially after eating. If you’re still determining what foods are triggering symptoms, keep a food diary and pay attention to what foods cause your throat to sizzle. Acid reflux doesn’t have to rule your life, so start by making changes today.

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