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What can I drink to neutralize acid reflux?

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common condition where stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This can cause symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and discomfort in the chest and throat. While there are medications that can help manage acid reflux, making some dietary changes can also be beneficial. One of the easiest things to adjust is what you drink. Certain beverages can help neutralize stomach acid and relieve symptoms.

How Beverages Impact Acid Reflux

The fluids you drink can directly affect your acid reflux in a few key ways:

  • Some beverages can increase acid production in the stomach, which leads to more reflux.
  • Carbonated drinks and alcohol can promote relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing more stomach contents to flow up.
  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and sodas may also relax the LES and stimulate acid secretion.
  • Large amounts of liquid, especially right before laying down, can increase risk of reflux.

On the other hand, some beverages can help neutralize stomach acid and ease symptoms:

  • Drinks like water, herbal tea, and low-fat milk can help dilute stomach acid and wash away irritation.
  • Baking soda mixed with water acts as a buffer to neutralize stomach acid.
  • Aloe vera juice coats and soothes the esophagus.

Beverages to Avoid with Acid Reflux

Here are some drinks that can make acid reflux worse and are best avoided:

Coffee and Tea

Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soda stimulate acid production. They also relax the LES muscle, leading to more reflux. Switching to decaf versions can help minimize symptoms.

Carbonated Beverages

The bubbles in carbonated drinks like soda and sparkling water can cause belching, which promotes reflux. Choose non-carbonated options instead.

Alcohol

Wine, beer, and liquor relax the LES and increase acid production. It’s best to limit or avoid alcohol altogether if you have frequent reflux.

Citrus Juices

Juices like orange, grapefruit, or pineapple are very acidic. They can irritate the esophagus and make symptoms worse.

Spicy Beverages

Spicy drinks like bloody marys, hot cider, and hot chocolate can trigger reflux symptoms. Opt for non-spicy versions.

Beverage Reason to Avoid
Coffee and tea Stimulate acid production, relax LES
Carbonated drinks Promote belching and reflux
Alcohol Relax LES, increase acid production
Citrus juices Highly acidic, irritate esophagus
Spicy beverages Can trigger reflux symptoms

Best Drinks for Acid Reflux

These beverages can help neutralize stomach acid and relieve reflux symptoms:

Water

Plain water is alkaline and can help neutralize acid.Aim for at least 8 glasses per day. Drink slowly and avoid large amounts at once.

Low-Fat Milk

Cold milk can wash away acid and provide a soothing coating for the esophagus. Opt for skim or 1% milk.

Herbal Tea

Non-caffeinated herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, and ginger can help reduce reflux. Avoid adding citrus juice.

Aloe Vera Juice

Pure aloe vera juice is an alkaline drink that can coat and protect the esophagus from acid irritation.

Baking Soda and Water

Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with 4-8 ounces of water. This neutralizes stomach acid and provides fast relief.

Beverage Benefits
Water Neutralizes acid, hydrates
Low-fat milk Coats and soothes esophagus
Herbal tea Reduces reflux, calming effect
Aloe vera juice Alkaline, coats esophagus
Baking soda and water Neutralizes acid instantly

Other Tips for Beverages with Acid Reflux

Here are some other tips to manage reflux through beverage choices:

  • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with meals, which can promote reflux.
  • Don’t lie down immediately after drinking. Wait at least 3 hours before reclining.
  • Try adding a splash of non-citrus juice to water for flavor without acidity.
  • Sip beverages slowly rather than gulping them down.
  • Drink through a straw, which can help keep acid down in the stomach.
  • Keep a food/drink diary to identify triggers of your reflux.

When to See a Doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have frequent or severe symptoms that don’t respond to diet and lifestyle changes. They can recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to better manage acid reflux.

See a doctor right away if you experience:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting of blood or coffee-ground-like material
  • Frequent vomiting

These may indicate complications of GERD and warrant further evaluation.

The Bottom Line

Some beverages like coffee, alcohol, and soda can instigate acid reflux symptoms. But others like herbal tea, aloe vera juice, and water can help calm symptoms by neutralizing stomach acid. Avoid drinking large amounts with meals and stay upright after drinking. Pay attention to your personal triggers and adjust your beverage choices accordingly to minimize acid reflux.