Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common condition where stomach acid frequently flows back up into the esophagus. This can cause symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing. While there are medications that can help manage acid reflux, making dietary and lifestyle changes is also important. One way to help minimize reflux symptoms is to pay attention to what you drink. Certain beverages can trigger or worsen acid reflux, while others may help soothe it. This article explores the best and worst drinks for acid reflux.
The link between drinks and acid reflux
What you drink can directly impact the severity of your acid reflux symptoms. Some drinks can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the muscular valve that closes to prevent food and stomach acid from coming back up into the esophagus. When the LES is relaxed, reflux is more likely to occur. Drinks can also irritate the esophageal lining or increase the volume and acidity of stomach contents, further promoting reflux.
On the other hand, some beverages may help reduce or soothe reflux symptoms. Alkaline drinks can neutralize stomach acidity, while low-acid drinks may reduce irritation of the esophagus. Thicker drinks can also form a protective coating over the esophageal lining.
The worst drinks for acid reflux
Here are some of the top drinks that can make acid reflux worse:
Coffee and tea
Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soda can relax the LES and stimulate acid secretion, leading to increased reflux. Coffee is also highly acidic.
Alcohol can cause the LES to relax and irritate the esophageal lining. Red wine is particularly problematic due to its high acidity.
The high acid content in citrus juices like orange, grapefruit, or lemon can irritate the esophagus and worsen symptoms.
The bubbles in carbonated drinks like soda and seltzer can cause belching, which promotes reflux of stomach contents.
|Drink||Reason it worsens reflux|
|Coffee and tea||Relaxes LES, stimulates acid production|
|Alcohol||Relaxes LES, irritates esophagus|
|Citrus juices||High acidity irritates esophagus|
|Carbonated beverages||Promotes belching and reflux|
The best drinks for acid reflux relief
Fortunately, there are also some great drink options that can help minimize acid reflux symptoms:
Plain water is generally well-tolerated and doesn’t affect the LES. Drinking adequate water can also help dilute stomach acidity.
The proteins in milk can form a temporary protective coating over the esophageal lining. Opt for low-fat or nonfat milk.
Non-caffeinated herbal teas like chamomile, ginger, or peppermint may help reduce reflux symptoms.
Aloe vera juice
The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera juice may help soothe acid reflux.
Baking soda water
The alkaline nature of baking soda can help neutralize stomach acidity and relieve reflux symptoms.
|Drink||Benefit for reflux|
|Water||Doesn’t affect LES, dilutes stomach acid|
|Low-fat milk||Forms protective coating over esophagus|
|Herbal tea||Soothes esophagus|
|Aloe vera juice||Anti-inflammatory effects|
|Baking soda water||Neutralizes stomach acid|
Other tips for managing reflux through diet
In addition to drinking reflux-friendly beverages, here are some other diet changes that can help minimize acid reflux:
- Avoid large, heavy meals – Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime
- Limit fatty, greasy, fried, and spicy foods
- Avoid trigger foods like garlic, onions, and chocolate
- Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly
- Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before lying down
- Elevate the head of your bed by 6-8 inches
- Avoid tight clothing that can put pressure on your stomach
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
When to see a doctor
Dietary and lifestyle changes can go a long way in controlling acid reflux symptoms. However, see your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Frequent or severe heartburn and regurgitation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Chest pain
Your doctor can help determine the severity of your condition and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include prescription medications or surgery if reflux is uncontrolled.
The bottom line
Paying attention to your beverage choices can significantly impact acid reflux symptoms. Avoid problematic drinks like coffee, alcohol, and soda. Instead, opt for water, herbal tea, low-fat milk, and other drinks that may soothe your digestive tract. Making other healthy diet and lifestyle changes can also go a long way in reducing reflux.