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Acid Reflux: Foods To Avoid

Acid reflux is a term used to describe the stomach acid leaving the stomach and coming up the throat. This causes unpleasant symptoms that can include a burning feeling in the chest known as heartburn and a sour taste in the mouth.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux has a number of causes including smoking, pregnancy, being overweight, stress / anxiety and certain medications. Another very common cause of acid reflux is eating certain foods, particularly acidic foods.

Keeping a food diary will help you to work out which foods cause your acid reflux symptoms. Since everyone reacts differently to the foods that can trigger symptoms, you may find you can eat more spicy food than someone else and that they can tolerate more citrus that you. Keeping a food diary will help you put your finger on exactly what you can and can’t eat without triggering acid reflux.

Foods that cause acid reflux

The types of foods that cause heartburn include very fatty foods, spicy foods and alcohol. Hot drinks can also cause irritation, so it’s best to let them cool a little before drinking.  

Examples of foods to avoid with heartburn are:

  • Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola

  • Alcoholic drinks, especially red wine

  • Chocolate

  • Black pepper

  • Garlic

  • Raw onions

  • Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges, and citrus-based foods

  • Peppermint

  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods

Working out what your triggers are will help you to come up with an appropriate acid reflux diet that works for you.

You may also find it beneficial to eat smaller meals more often. It’s a good idea not to eat 3-4 hours before going to bed. Keep some antacids handy at home in case you suffer from a bout of acid reflux.

Foods that help acid reflux

A great food for heartburn sufferers is ginger as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is a great natural remedy for heartburn and other digestive problems.

Other good foods for acid reflux sufferers include:

  • Vegetables, which are low in sugar and fat

  • Lean meats, which are low in fat

  • Oats and oat products, which are high in fibre

  • Wholegrain breads, which are high in fibre

  • Wholegrain rice, which is high in fibre

  • Non acidic fruits such as melons and bananas. Apples and pears are also good options.

Cold drinks such as milk and water should feel temporarily soothing if you’re experiencing symptoms. Adding low fat yoghurt to a curry will help to make it less spicy whilst still keeping the flavour. This should hopefully mean that you experience symptoms that are less intense.

If spicy food is a big problem for you, you could try adding herbs other than peppermint to your meals. Basil and coriander are particularly flavourful and can add flavour to a meal without adding any heat.

Although it isn’t a food, chewing gum can help to ease acid reflux. Chewing gum causes the mouth to produce more saliva, which in turn makes you swallow more and makes the stomach acid go back down your oesophagus. Try to avoid peppermint flavoured gum, however, as peppermint can make symptoms worse.