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30 Foods That Cause Acid Reflux

Grilled Foods

Something about grilled foods can make your acid reflux so much worse. Whether you’re eating out or cooking food at home, you may find yourself reaching for Tums after eating.

To avoid the dreaded acid-reflux burps when grilling out, you can stick to eating vegetables, salad, or the leanest of burgers. Although, experts highly suggest that you avoid BBQs all together. 

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Raw Onions

It may seem normal to top your salad or burger with raw onion, but if you have acid reflux, you should stay away from this vegetable. Raw onions can increase the number of reflux episodes as well as the frequency of belches you may experience.

Onions are a double-hitter. First, the onions lower the esophageal sphincter. In addition to that, they're high in fermentable fiber, which promotes even more acid reflux. 

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Dairy

Dairy products, especially milk, cheese, and ice cream, are also a common cause of acid reflux. These products are frequently high in fat, and as mentioned earlier, foods like this can cause acid to leak into the esophagus.

Switching to low-fat or skim milk may improve symptoms for some. To really decrease acid reflux symptoms, you can swap to almond milk. It has an alkaline composition, which can help relieve acid reflux symptoms. 

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Cranberry Juice

Cranberries are great for your stomach, but most juices are loaded with sugar. While this enough to provoke acid reflux, cranberries alone can make symptoms worse.

This juice isn’t as acidic as orange juice, but it can trigger reflux in the same way. If you want juice, there's a number of options! Carrot, aloe vera, cabbage, and watermelon are fantastic juice options. 

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Alcohol

Alcohol dehydrates the body, which is what causes hangovers in the morning. Being dehydrated can cause poor digestion and acid reflux. It also increases gastric acid in your body. All of this means you may wake up to an uncomfortable burn the next morning. 

Alcohol does affect people differently, however. This means that one person with acid reflux or GERD can drink, but another may have severe heartburn after just a small amount. 

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Beef

Most cuts of beef have a high fat content, which can aggravate acid reflux. This is due to the fact that fatty pieces of meat take longer to digest, which means it sits in the stomach much longer.

That doesn’t mean you can’t eat beef, but it requires choosing extremely lean cuts, like round roast. Overall, it’s still better to eat fish or chicken, but moderation is the key to consuming beef. 

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Olive Oil

While olive oil provides a number of heart-healthy benefits, it can trigger acid reflux for some people. High-fat foods have the ability to loosen the muscle dividing the stomach from the esophagus, which can lead to acid leakage.

With 14 grams of fat in one tablespoon, olive oil falls squarely within the realm of high-fat products. It's great to cook with, but try to use small amounts whenever possible. 

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Coconut

Like olive oil, coconut and coconut oil provide essential nutrients for heart health. However, these products are also high in fat and may lead to acid reflux.

Shredded coconut as a garnish will probably not cause problems for most people, but using it as a main ingredient or cooking with coconut oil can lead to trouble. That being said, coconut water is a great way to soothe heartburn. Just look out for the sugar content!

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Pasta Sauce

Tomatoes are highly acidic themselves, so eating them alone can be bad, but pasta sauce? When combined in pasta sauce with other reflux-causing foods like garlic or onions, digestion issues can surface.

Limiting the amount of pasta sauce with a meal can help keep acid reflux at bay, as will switching to a sauce that does not contain tomatoes. Some brands also make a low acidic tomato sauce, although it should still be consumed with moderation. 

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Salad Dressing

A salad is good for you, but the dressing – not so much. Most of the time, salad dressings are mostly fats, and this can cause your stomach to create more stomach acid.

For those that suffer from acid reflux or GERD, the best way to eat a salad is without dressing. However, for those that can't eat their salad without some sort of topper, aim for yogurt dressings. 

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Fried Foods

Fried food is one of the most challenging things for your body to digest. It’s high in trans-fats, which causes havoc with your digestive tract. Fried food is heavy and slows down the digestive process, leaving excess acid in the stomach.

Eventually, it makes its way up and causes acid reflux. The easy fix for this is to avoid fried foods altogether. Baked is the best option for anyone with acid issues. 

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Carbonated Beverages

Your favorite drink may be bad for your acid, especially if you like soda. Anything carbonated is awful for acid reflux, including tonic water. It's not so much the ingredients but the carbonation. 

The bubbles from the carbonation expand in the stomach, which causes increased pressure. This pushes the acid up your esophagus and causes reflux. Sodas with caffeine are even worse. 

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Pineapple Juice

While not as acidic as oranges, pineapple juice can still lead to acid reflux. However, the acidic concentration of whole pineapples is significantly less than in pineapple juice.

In addition to that, some scientists say that fresh pineapple may help improve acid symptoms due to the bromelain present. Pineapple juice has very little bromelain, so it's best to start eating the whole fruit instead. 

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Orange Juice

Citrus fruits and fruit juices such as orange juice are among the most frequent causes of acid reflux because of their high acidity. The fiber may help your digestive system a little, but it's best to avoid orange juice altogether. 

However, some companies offer low-acid varieties of orange juice, which may help limit the occurrence of the condition in some people. It varies from person to person, so try a little before drinking a full glass.

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Garlic

Garlic has been known to cause acid reflux, but only in certain circumstances. In most cases, consuming cooked garlic poses no problems However, eating it uncooked may lead to the condition, due to a higher acid content.

Interestingly, there is some research to indicate that taking garlic supplements may actually decrease a person’s risk of acid reflux. More research is needed, but it's a start!

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Peppers

Spicy foods, including peppers, are a common cause of acid reflux. Particularly potent varieties such as jalapenos pose the highest risk even if you eat just a small amount. 

Even milder, sweeter types, such as bell peppers, can lead to the condition in those who are especially susceptible. Thoroughly cooking peppers before consumption may reduce their spiciness and potential for acid reflux. 

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Peanuts

Peanuts are delicious and have great nutritional benefits, but there's a downside. They're a legume that is particularly high in fat, which makes them potential cause of acid reflux.

This is especially true when it comes to peanut butter—which derives about three-quarters of its calories from fat. If you feel like eating nuts, aim for almonds. They're more much alkaline compared to other nuts. 

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Coffee

Foods are not the only potential source of acid reflux. Beverages high in caffeine, such as coffee, can also cause the condition. As with fat, caffeine can loosen the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus.

This loosening allows acid to leak upward. Switching to decaf coffee or limiting its intake can potentially lessen the symptoms of acid reflux. You won't get the caffeine, but you'll still have the delicious taste.  

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes are incredibly acidic, even if they aren’t cooked. A raw tomato can cause just as much trouble as one prepared in a sauce or grilled. It’s best to stay away from this food altogether. It can trigger reflux and worsen symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

One study in BMC Gastroenterol found that tomatoes even caused acid reflux when the pH was balanced out. Further studies are needed, but this could mean there's another reason tomatoes cause acid reflux. 

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Spicy Foods

Spicy or hot foods don’t help acid reflux. Some spices can irritate the stomach lining, like chili peppers. Many spicy foods contain capsaicin, which can produce a burning sensation on tissue, which only exacerbates acid reflux symptoms.

For some people, excessive amounts of pepper could be enough to trigger acid reflux and heartburn. To keep track of what triggers your symptoms, it may be best to keep a food journal.

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Chocolate

Few things are as bad as being told you probably shouldn’t eat chocolate. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bad for you. It’s high in fat, so it takes a while to digest. It also has caffeine, which can cause stomach acid to come up the esophageal sphincter. 

Not only is it high in fat, but cocoa powder also a trigger. Cocoa can cause your esophagus to relax, which allows acid to creep up from the stomach. In this case, chocolate is sadly off-limits for those with reflux. 

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Butter

Butter is nothing but fat. Naturally, this can make acid reflux so much worse, especially if you’re frying foods in it. It adds unwanted calories to your meal and can cause serious acid reflux symptoms later.

When cooking, it's best to avoid excessive amounts of butter. Instead, use a small amount of oil spray. When roasting, this gets a similar browned effect without the extra burn and calories. 

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Candy

Candy is nothing but sugar, which is one of the worst culprits of acid reflux. Candy may also have vitamin C and preservatives that can also increase the acidity, making it a seriously bad food for acid reflux sufferers.

Sweets that make you chew a little more, like gum, also introduce more air into your stomach. This air makes a person gassy, which could make acid symptoms feel even worse, although you're just burping up the acid rather than it actually being worse. 

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Pastries

Processed baked goods may be delicious, but they make an acidic environment in your stomach. They’re high in butter and fats and are also made with refined products like sugar and flour.

These three ingredients are some of the worst causes of acid reflux, and pastries mix them all into one food. Swapping these foods with things like almond milk, almond flour, and a natural sweetener may be the best choice here. 

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Mac & Cheese

Mac and Cheese is a delicious double threat. The pasta is made with enriched white flour that can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms. To make matters worse, it’s covered in cheese. After eating mac and cheese, it’s no surprise someone may have acid reflux issues.

Whole wheat noodles make mac and cheese less of a threat, however. Fiber can absorb stomach acid and decrease symptoms. While it won't taste as sweet, it'll be much better on the stomach. 

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Jam or Jelly

Jam and jelly taste great on a peanut butter sandwich, but it’s pretty acidic. It has a highly acidic pH and is nothing but sugar. If you have to have jelly, try to eat an alkalizing fruit like bananas with it to bring down the acid levels.

For some, pure honey could be a better option than processed jams. If you want to eat jam, avoid acidic foods like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. 

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Peppermint

Mint or peppermint are known to settle upset stomachs but stay away from it if you have acid reflux issues. The numbing effect relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which keeps your stomach acid at bay.

Anyone with acid problems should avoid this herb at all costs because there's no way around this one. Even if it's in tea, it can still cause acid reflux. Stick to the calming herbal teas like chamomile. 

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Lemon

Lemon is pretty bad for your teeth because it can eat away at your enamel. Think about what it can do to your stomach! Lemons irritate the stomach and can trigger acid reflux symptoms in no time.

Sadly, lemon water is just as bad. Lemon water (and lemon) is strong enough to eat away at the enamel of your teeth, so it may be best to avoid this altogether. 

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Avocados

Avocado toast is a perfect breakfast food, but they have a high level of natural fats. While healthy, it slows down the digestive process, which keeps food in your stomach longer. 

This increases the amount of acid in your stomach. Those with mild problems can consider eating avocados, but someone with severe reflux should avoid them.

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Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets are an easy dinner, but you could be making your heartburn worse by eating them. Not only are they fried, but they’re also loaded with salt.

If you want chicken nuggets, you can make your own using breading and lean chicken breast. Just make sure to bake them instead of frying. An air-fryer is also a fantastic option. 

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