Acid reflux is a common condition that many people experience from time to time. It occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and discomfort. For those who deal with chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), finding relief can be challenging. This has led some people with acid reflux to try juicing as a natural remedy.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, relaxes or weakens and allows stomach acid to flow upwards. The LES is supposed to act as a one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach, but when it malfunctions, acid can irritate the esophageal lining and cause discomfort. This is what causes the burning feeling of heartburn.
Some common causes and risk factors for acid reflux include:
- Eating large meals
- Eating too close to bedtime
- Being overweight or obese
- Hiatal hernia
- Some medications like NSAIDs
- Foods that may trigger reflux – spicy, acidic, fatty, or fried foods
Symptoms of acid reflux
The most common acid reflux symptoms include:
- Regurgitation or belching up food/liquid
- Bitter or sour taste in the mouth
- Excessive burping
- Chest pain
- Wheezing or coughing
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Feeling like there’s a lump in the throat
Symptoms tend to worsen after eating a meal, when bending over or lying down, or for those with nighttime reflux, symptoms may disrupt sleep. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux can cause serious complications like esophageal strictures, Barrett’s esophagus, and increased risk of esophageal cancer over time.
How could juicing help with acid reflux?
Drinking fresh juices made from vegetables and fruits could potentially help reduce or relieve acid reflux symptoms in a few ways:
- Alkaline juices can neutralize acidity: Some ingredients like spinach, kale, cucumber, parsley, melons, and celery are more alkaline-forming and can help neutralize excess acidity.
- Provide nutrients and antioxidants: Juices provide hydration and nutrients that may help heal the GI tract like vitamin C, carotenoids, zinc, and magnesium.
- Easily digestible: The nutrients in juice are extracted and more easily absorbed compared to eating whole fruits/veggies.
- Avoid irritating foods: Making your own juices allows you to control ingredients and avoid triggers.
While small amounts of fresh ginger or turmeric may provide anti-inflammatory benefits, be cautious with too much as they could worsen reflux. The same applies to acidic juices like orange or tomato juice which could provoke symptoms.
What does the research say?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of solid research specifically on juicing and acid reflux.
A 2012 study did find that taking cabbage juice supplements helped improve reflux symptoms and heal mucosal damage in people with gastric ulcers. Researchers believe antioxidant compounds called flavonoids in cabbage juice may help protect the GI mucosa.
Another small study looked at using either green cabbage juice or antacids to treat gastroesophageal reflux. People drinking cabbage juice (100ml 3 times per day) for 1 week reported significantly fewer reflux symptoms than those using antacids.
Overall though, there needs to be much more research on juicing, juice ingredients, and acid reflux before drawing firm conclusions.
Best juices to try for acid reflux
While individual tolerances vary, here are some juice recipes that may be beneficial:
1. Cucumber aloe juice
– 1/2 cucumber
– 2 celery stalks
– 1 inch aloe vera gel
– Handful of spinach
– 1/2 lemon, peeled
– Small knob of ginger
Aloe vera has soothing properties that may aid digestion, while cucumber and celery add hydration. Lemon provides flavor and antioxidants.
2. Fennel apple juice
– 2 apples
– 1 fennel bulb
– 4 kale leaves
– 1 inch fresh turmeric or ginger
Fennel and ginger can reduce inflammation, while kale gives a boost of nutrients. Use green apples for less acidity.
3. Carrot parsley juice
– 5 carrots, tops removed
– 1 cup flat leaf parsley
– 2 celery stalks
– 1 lemon, peeled
Carrots are packed with vitamin A and have an alkaline effect. Parsley aids digestion, while lemon adds vitamin C.
4. Papaya mint juice
– 1 cup papaya, seeds removed
– 6 mint leaves
– 1 lime, peeled
– 1 cup coconut water
Papaya contains the enzyme papain which can soothe the stomach. Mint may reduce inflammation and bloating.
Tips for managing acid reflux with diet
Besides juicing, there are other diet modifications that can minimize acid reflux as well:
- Avoid trigger foods like coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, chocolate, and peppermint
- Don’t eat large meals; choose smaller, more frequent meals
- Wait at least 3 hours after eating before lying down
- Limit high-fat foods, which take longer to digest
- Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and put down utensils between bites
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Elevate the head of your bed by 6-8 inches if you have nighttime reflux
Other ways to find relief from acid reflux symptoms
While dietary changes are important, other lifestyle factors and supplements may also help control acid reflux:
- Quit smoking and minimize alcohol intake
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid abdominal pressure
- Limit vigorous exercise which can aggravate reflux
- Manage stress through yoga, meditation, counseling, etc.
- Over-the-counter antacids or acid reducers (used sparingly)
- Probiotic supplements to improve gut health
- DGL licorice, slippery elm, marshmallow root, or aloe vera supplements
For those with frequent or severe symptoms, prescription medication or even surgery may be necessary. Be sure to consult your doctor if lifestyle measures don’t seem to help manage your acid reflux.
The bottom line
There is limited evidence that specific juices, vegetables, or fruits can directly relieve acid reflux symptoms. However, incorporating certain produce into fresh juices may be helpful for some acid reflux sufferers. The best approach is to avoid known trigger foods and make dietary changes that prevent flare-ups. Juicing vegetables and fruits that are less acidic and lower in fat can support acid reflux management when done alongside other lifestyle measures.
Pay attention to your individual responses and customize your approach. Stick to low-acid juices and be cautious with ingredients like ginger or turmeric if they aggravate your symptoms. Dietary changes take time and patience, but can provide lasting relief when done consistently.