Acid Reflux Diet

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Acid Reflux Diet Myths

Many people believe that adopting a good acid reflux diet will solve all their heartburn problems, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Although conventional wisdom says that eating the wrong food is the major cause of acid reflux, if you examine the facts, a different picture starts to emerge.

The stomach is a marvelously engineered chemical factory capable of digesting most foods without any problem.

In fact, our digestive hydrochloric acid is so strong, it's able to break down many solids - including bone, ferrous metal, and even glass!

A major study, published in May, 2006 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, as reported in Science Daily ( opens new window), debunked a number of acid reflux diet myths.

Stanford University carried out the study - headed by Lauren Gerson, MD - and the following facts emerged:

Myth #1

  • Drink Milk

    MilkAn old wives tale says drinking a glass of milk before bedtime prevents night-time acid reflux.

    This is false; the lactic acid in partially digested milk has a rebound effect.

    Although the lactic acid present in fermented foods, such as yogurt is good for the digestion, raw lactic acid from milk forces the proton pumps on your stomach lining to secrete extra hydrochloric acid as a neutralizer.

    Since the valve that prevents acid regurgitation, (the lower esophageal sphincter or "LES") tends to relax during sleep, the result is often an induced night-time acid reflux attack caused by acid seeping sideways through the relaxed valve.

Myth #2
  • Red PepperAvoid spicy food, tomatoes, citrus fruits and citrus beverages.

    The study proved that we can safely include all of the above in our acid reflux diet without inducing any heartburn symptoms.

Myth #3
  • Avoid fatty foods.

    Fatty MeatConventional thinking suggests that a good acid reflux diet must exclude fatty foods because they are harder to digest.

    Not so! The Stanford’s research, (backed up by a number of independent studies), debunks this theory.

    Every related study carried out shows that neither a low fat, nor a high fat diet is responsible for inducing heartburn symptoms.

    However, to be on the safe side, avoid overindulging in saturated animal fats – and if you’re overweight, try cutting down on fats altogether.

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Trigger Foods

Despite Stanford University’s encouraging news, many of us are sensitive to certain foods, or we have one or two specific food allergies.

To adopt an effective acid reflux diet as part of your remedy program, you must first identify your own heartburn triggers.

Many of the common triggers have already been identified through observation and research. However, it’s impossible to generalize when it comes to pinning down your own personal food sensitivities.

Everyone is different, and the old saying, “One man's meat is another man's poison” holds true (for example, 2 out of every 10 people are sensitive to coffee).

Even though you may be aware of a few of your own particular triggers, add to the list by carrying out some private research.

Keep a journal and list all the foods that are a part of your regular diet.

Whenever heartburn strikes, highlight your last meal and all its ingredients. By applying a process of elimination, you'll soon get a handle on which foods to avoid.

With regard to unfamiliar foods and beverages, pay particular attention when eating out – you’re sure to come up with one or two surprises.

This may take time, but when developing a custom acid reflux diet, it’s worth the effort.


Acid Reflux Diet - Triggers to Avoid

Eliminate or cut down on the following – they’re all proven acid reflux triggers:


All alcohol, has a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter, whether it’s wine beer or spirits. If you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner, experiment until you identify your level of tolerance.

Cigarette ButtsNicotine

Tobacco in all its forms, including electronic cigarettes and snuff. Nicotine weakens the LES.


Chocolate relaxes the LES.

Peppermint, Spearmint and Mint Tea

Makes the proton pumps produces extra acid.

Soda CanCarbonated drinks.

Soda, beer and sparkling wine: Drinking any of these fizzy beverages forces you to swallow carbon dioxide bubbles. This in turn induces burping, and that allows corrosive digestive fluids to erupt upwards into the esophagus.

Diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners.

The sweetening chemical, Aspartame, is a deadly poison. Use honey instead, or at the very least, lay in a supply of unrefined brown sugar - you'll soon get used to it.

Whole milk, including creamed foods or soups.

As mentioned, proton pumps produce extra acid to counteract lactic acid from some dairy products.


Suspect Foods

Pay close attention after consuming any of the following:

Raw onions.

Sour cream.
Milk shakes.
Light blends of coffee.
Ice cream.
Regular cottage cheese.

Macaroni and cheese.

Creamy salad dressing.

High fat butter cookies.
Brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
Doughnuts with chocolate dressing or additives.
Corn chips.
Regular potato chips.

Recommended foods

  1. Fruit: No limitations.

  2. Vegetables: No limitations (Garlic, cooked onions and sauerkraut are particularly good for you).

  3. Meat: Few limitations (avoid hot dogs and high fat meats).

  4. Dairy: Yogurt, two percent low fat milk, Cheddar cheese, low fat cottage cheese.

  5. Grains: No limitations (Garlic bread, muffins and Granola cereal are good).

  6. Beverages: Non-alcoholic beer (low fizz), non-carbonated fruit juices, tea, Root beer.

  7. Sweets/deserts: Everything that does not contain regular milk products, chocolate or artificial sweeteners.


Coffee and Your Acid Reflux Diet

CoffeeScientists at the University of Vienna are in the process of studying the effects of coffee as related to heartburn.

According to Veronika Somoza Ph.D. and her colleagues, darker roasts cause less disruption to the natural pH level of the digestive fluids.

In fact, a chemical generated during the roasting process known as N-methylpyridium (NMP), appears to prevent stomach cells producing hydrochloric acid.

However, the lighter, cheaper blends contain stuff called catechols and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides; these substances retard digestion and trigger heartburn.

If you love your coffee but you’re coffee-sensitive, experiment with blends such as espresso, French roast, and other dark-roasted beverages. These contain NMP and may prove to easier on your stomach.



BreakfastDoctor Gerson said that for the most part, medication alone is all you need to treat the symptoms of heartburn.

"The main reason they probably have heartburn is that their sphincter muscle (LES) is relaxing too much and taking medicine will decrease the amount of acid that's going into their esophagus."

Apart from avoiding your own acid reflux food triggers, dietary considerations are of secondary importance.

So relax! Go ahead and have that refreshing acidic glass of orange juice with your breakfast. Eat just about anything that passes the trigger foods test – enjoying your food won’t cause an acid reflux attack…

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