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The Worst Foods For Reflux

The Worst Foods For Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus causing a burning feeling. Many foods can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux by stimulating the stomach to produce too much gastric acid (stomach acid responsible for breaking down food). If you suffer from acid reflux, you might need to adjust your diet by removing the below 10 foods.

1. Tomatoes
Tomatoes and tomato products (including soups, juices and sauces) can cause the overproduction of gastric acid.
When acid volume gets too high, it can be forced to flow up to the esophagus.
Even cooking tomatoes won’t reduce the acidity enough to prevent acid reflux.
If you’re preparing pizza or pasta sauce, replace the red sauce with fresh pesto to avoid triggering your symptoms.

2. Citrus Fruits
Lemon juice has a PH of 2, making them one of the most acidic foods.
Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruits and oranges, can also worsen symptoms.
Pineapple is not technically a citrus fruit, but it might possibly induce your symptoms, so start with a small piece at first if you are craving something sour and juicy.

3. Onions
Onions allow acid to flow back by relaxing the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve where the esophagus joins the stomach).
Onions aggravate heartburn by increasing the duration of stomach having pH<4 (the lower the pH, the higher the acidity).
Cooking onions doesn’t have much effect on their acidity, so you can try eating milder shallots and green onions in small amounts to see how strongly they affect your symptoms.

4. Carbonated Beverages
The gas released from carbonated beverages increases gastric pressure and forces the opening of the esophageal sphincter.
Many carbonated beverages contain caffeine, which can trigger acid reflux symptoms in some people.
Diet sodas tend to be even worse, having a pH between 2.5 and 3.7.

5. Alcohol
Alcohol causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing gastric acid to push its way up into esophagus.
If you do drink, you can sidestep a reflux attack by avoiding carbonated drinks such as beer and champagne,
Be careful of reflux-stimulating mixers such as carbonated sodas and acidic juices.

6. Spicy Foods
Spices are one of the most common foods acid reflux patients complain about triggering their symptoms.
Spices exert no pressure on the esophageal sphincter, but it rather irritate the esophagus causing a burning sensation.

7. Fatty Foods
Fatty foods spend more time in the stomach due to its slow digestion, this allows gastric acid to flow back into the esophagus.
High-fat foods could be also a reason for weight gain that eventually leads to obesity making them more prone to develop acid reflux due to belly fat that increases the pressure on the stomach.

8. Coffee
Consuming coffee in large quantities has been linked to increased prevalence of acid reflux symptoms, specially caffeinated coffee.
If you do drink coffee, choose darker roasted rather than light roasted coffee because they tend to be less acidic and better tolerated by people with reflux. And, either way, limit your intake to one cup per day.

9. Chocolate
In people with acid reflux, eating chocolate causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax due to the release of serotonin from the intestines.
Chocolate is high in fat and cacao, which could be a reason for triggering acid reflux symptoms.
Even though dark chocolate is a healthier option compared to milk chocolate, containing less refined sugar and a higher percentage of antioxidant-rich cacao, it may stimulate more severe symptoms in people with reflux.

10. Peppermint
Peppermint can be used to reduce indigestion in people without acid reflux, by preventing gas from forming in the GI tract as well as it helps the body to expel it.
On the other hand, peppermint can actually trigger heartburn for people with acid reflux because of its relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter.
If you’re craving a relaxing cup of peppermint tea, it is either recommended to dilute it with water or replace it with ginger tea.

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

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Christelle Bedrossian