What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition where the contents of the stomach move up into your esophagus. Several foods and drinks may help minimize acid reflux symptoms.
Acid reflux is a condition where the contents of the stomach move up into your esophagus. Several foods and drinks may help minimize acid reflux symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs when the contents of your stomach move up into your esophagus. When this happens, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest, which can move into your throat. This is known as heartburn. If you experience acid reflux more than twice a week, you may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that affects about 20% of people in the United States. 

Common symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • An uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest, which may move up toward your throat
  • A sour taste at the back of your mouth
  • You may throw up some of the contents of your stomach into your mouth
  • If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may find it hard to swallow or breathe 

Acid reflux occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weak or doesn’t close properly. Certain situations can trigger acid reflux such as:

People with certain conditions are also at an increased risk of experiencing acid reflux:

8 foods and drinks that help with acid reflux

While certain foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux, there are also several that can help to ease your symptoms:

1. Oatmeal and Whole Grains

Oat and other whole grains, such as whole-grain bread and brown rice, are full of healthy fiber, which promotes digestive health. Whole grains also help you feel fuller longer, which can reduce the risk of overeating.

2. Ginger

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. Many people also use it to ease stomach upset and indigestion

3. Lean Meats

Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and certain types of fish, are lower in fat than other types of meats and can help to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. Tofu is also an excellent low-fat protein source. 

4. Vegetables

Vegetables, particularly green ones such as broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and leafy greens, can help to lower stomach acid, which can help with acid reflux. They’re low in factors that can trigger symptoms, including fat and sugar

5. Noncitrus Fruits

Citrus and other acidic fruits can trigger acid reflux. Certain noncitrus fruits such as bananas and melons can help to ease your symptoms. Bananas coat the lining of your esophagus, which can reduce irritation. Melons are high in magnesium, a mineral found in many over-the-counter antacids that helps to neutralize stomach acid. 

6. Herbal Tea

Green and black teas contain caffeine, which, like coffee, can trigger acid reflux symptoms. Certain types of herbal teas, on the other hand, can help alleviate your discomfort. These teas include chamomile, ginger, and licorice

7. Plant-Based Milk

Full fat cow’s milk can trigger acid reflux. Additionally, many people have trouble digesting it. Certain types of non-dairy milk can help provide relief. For instance, almond milk is alkaline, so it can lower stomach acidity and ease symptoms. Soy milk is lower in fat than cow’s milk, making it a better alternative. 

8. Coconut Water

Coconut water has electrolytes that can promote a better pH balance in your body, which helps to control acid reflux.

When to visit your doctor

Some people find relief on their own, without needing to see a doctor. If you experience symptoms of acid reflux two or more times per week, however, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment as this can indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, who can perform tests such as:

  • Barium X-rays: You drink a barium solution and then your doctor takes X-rays of your upper digestive tract 
  • Endoscopy: Your doctor inserts a camera into your esophagus to examine the tissue and take a small biopsy if necessary 
  • Biopsy: Your doctor takes a small sample of tissue from your esophagus to examine under a microscope 
  • Monitoring your pH levels: Your doctor monitors the acidity of your stomach 

Seeking treatment for chronic acid reflux is important. Untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to cancer of your esophagus. Other complications of untreated gastroesophageal reflux include:

Symptoms of acid reflux can also mimic symptoms of other serious conditions, such as:

Again, schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out other issues and get an accurate diagnosis. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, you can keep your acid reflux under control and live a normal life.


 

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Medically Reviewed on 1/12/2021
References
SOURCES:

American Dental Association: "Erosion: Stomach Upset and Your Teeth."

Cedars-Sinai: "Heartburn and Acid Reflux: What You Need to Know."

Cheyenne Regional: "Complications of GERD."

Edward-Elmhurst Health: "Is it heartburn or a heart attack? Don't guess."

Gut and Liver: "Cow's Milk Allergy among Children with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Herbal Remedies for Heartburn."

International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Diseases: "Diet Changes for Gerd."

Johns Hopkins Medical: "GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "When Heartburn Signals Cancer Risk."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Definition and Facts for GER & GERD."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of GER & GERD."

University Hospitals: "The Best and Worst Foods for Acid Reflux."

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