Soy sauce acid reflux

Eating Out With GERD

If you’d rather swallow fire than eat out at your favorite restaurant, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, could be to blame. But before you swear off restaurant meals for good, check out these smart tips on dining out:

Portion Perspective

Overeating is a surefire way to aggravate the symptoms of reflux. A full stomach applies pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, says Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Yet most restaurants pile two or more servings onto one entrée-size plate. To help control GERD while eating out:

  • Ask the waiter for a half portion.
  • Share a meal with your dining partner.
  • Order two small appetizers for your main course.
  • Take half your entrée home in a to-go bag.
  • Eat slowly


You can read about the various causes of GERD and not clearly recognize yourself among the many descriptions. That’s because individuals are unique and different things – including foods – trigger GERD. Because people are not genetically identical, Anding says, you must learn which specific foods aggravate your reflux symptoms – and keep track of them. Anding suggests that when you dine out you ask the waiter how a dish is made. A menu might list pasta with cream sauce, but that could be a red cream sauce. If tomatoes trigger your symptoms, then you’ll wish you had ordered something else.

Menu Maneuvering

Some foods are notorious for causing GERD to flare up. While it’s important to know which foods specifically contribute to your reflux symptoms, here are a few general menu guidelines:

Avoid acidic foods. For example:

  • Condiments like ketchup, mustard, and vinegar
  • Tomato-based sauces and soups

Steer clear of citrus fruits. For example:

  • Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes – whole or in juice form
  • Any seafood dish cooked or basted in lemon juice

Forgo fried foods. For example:

  • Anything sautéed in butter or oil
  • French fries, onion rings, fried fish, potato chips

Forget about fatty foods. For example:

  • Fatty cuts of meat, such as prime rib, duck, and sausage
  • Meals made with high-fat dairy, such as cheese, cream, and butter

Pass on spicy foods. For example:

  • Spicy peppers, red pepper flakes, wasabi, salsa, and hot sauce
  • Finally, go easy on garlic, shallots, and onions.

Choose Cuisines Carefully

Going out for ethnic or fast food? The following are some smart and not-so-smart choices for people with GERD.

At an Asian restaurant…


  • Steamed dishes made with vegetables, chicken, tofu, beef, or pork
  • Noodles in broth
  • Egg drop, clear, or miso soup
  • Sushi with soy sauce (skip the wasabi)
  • Steamed dumplings
  • Edamame
  • Fortune cookies


  • Fried eggrolls, dumplings, rice, and crab rangoons
  • Wonton soup
  • “Crispy” anything
  • General Tso’s dishes
  • Tempura
  • Thai spices

At a Mexican restaurant…


  • Vegetarian refried beans (made without lard)
  • Vegetable burrito or quesadilla without cheese
  • Brown rice
  • Guacamole
  • Grilled fajitas


  • Mole (chocolate) sauce
  • Anything labeled spicy or containing chiles or jalapeño peppers
  • Fried tortillas (chips, strips, or salad bowls)
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Deep-fried ice cream

At an Italian restaurant…


  • Broth-based pasta sauces and soups
  • Bread sticks
  • Salad with light Italian dressing on the side
  • Roasted, grilled, or broiled meats
  • Grilled, poached, or steamed fish dishes (without cream sauce)


  • Cheesy dishes like lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini and anything with an Alfredo sauce
  • Tomato-based dishes like red pizza, pasta with red sauce, bruschetta, and tomato soup
  • Fried appetizers like zucchini and calamari
  • Chicken, veal, and eggplant Parmesan

At a fast-food restaurant…


  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Salad with light dressing
  • Plain hamburger
  • Turkey or ham submarine sandwich with veggies


  • French fries
  • Fried fish or chicken sandwiches
  • Heavy condiments
  • Milkshakes

Assess the Extras

Some extravagances go hand in hand with a fine restaurant meal – specifically, dessert and alcohol. But if you want to walk away with fond memories of your dining experience, it’s important to ask yourself if indulging is really worth it. If you do decide to dive into the “good stuff,” these tips will help guide you into safer waters:

  • Enjoy one glass of wine and stop there.
  • Look for lighter desserts made with fresh fruit.
  • Avoid anything made with chocolate or full-fat dairy, including dishes like crème brûlée, cheesecake, and pudding.
  • Split a dessert with your dining partner.
  • Choose decaf coffee or tea.
  • Resist the chocolate mint candy on the way out; the mint and chocolate deliver a double whammy.

Eating out with GERD can be a challenge. But if you make smart choices and keep track of the foods that tend to aggravate your reflux, you can enjoy a restaurant meal without getting burned by GERD’s side effects. As Anding says: Moderation while eating out will provide reasonable symptom control. You may not walk away without any reflux symptoms, but if you enjoy one glass of wine, a few bites of dessert, and take half your meal home with you, you should be able to enjoy a restaurant meal without severe symptoms. And enjoyment is what a restaurant meal is all about!

Foods to Avoid with GERD

  • Tomatoes and Citrus Fruits/Juices

    The high acid content in these foods is commonly known to exacerbate GERD. That also includes pizza, sadly, which can be a double-whammy due to the next category of culprits.

  • Foods High in Fat

    Cheese, fries, prime rib and ice cream can cause heartburn in many GERD sufferers. That’s because fat slows down the emptying of the stomach, which puts pressure on the esophageal sphincter. That doesn’t mean you can never eat Ben & Jerry’s again—just be careful.

  • Garlic, Onion and Spicy Foods

    Not everyone who suffers from GERD has a problem with these. But it’s a good idea to eliminate them on a trial basis if you’ve already done away with acidic and fatty foods and still have problems.

  • Coffee

    This is unfortunate, for sure, but coffee works negatively in two ways. It’s been shown to decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter, which invites stomach contents to come in. Caffeine also stimulates acid secretion. If you love coffee, try one with low acidity.

  • Mint and Chocolate

    Like coffee, these foods can chemically cause the lower esophageal sphincter to loosen, triggering acid reflux. But while mint—and mint gum—can cause problems, chewing gum in general has been shown to have a beneficial effect on GERD because it increases saliva, which helps neutralize stomach acid. Just choose a flavor other than mint if it bothers you.

  • Alcohol

    While alcohol is a known contributing factor to GERD, it affects everyone differently. Try limiting yourself to one drink or not drinking for two hours before bed.

  • Carbonated drinks

    The carbonation in soda can cause the stomach to distend and bloat, placing extra strain on the lower esophageal sphincter.

The Real Cause of GERD

Last week a study was published in JAMA about the real cause of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and it got a lot of media attention (as studies often do).

It was announced that researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas VA Medical Center may have found the real cause of GERD.

In a small study of 12 men with severe acid esophageal reflux that was being successfully managed with proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications, researchers analyzed the changes to the esophageal tissues once the PPIs were stopped.

Not surprisingly, they found reflux returned in 11 of the 12 men. But they found that the damage to the tissues was NOT caused by the chemical exposure of the acid itself (as has long been assumed) but by an inflammatory response in the esophagus to the acid.

Everyone seems to be jumping to the conclusion that all of a sudden, acid reflux is no longer the real cause of GERD but rather, inflammation is now the true culprit.

Here’s a few headlines:

Researchers Discover Actual Cause of GERD

Inflammation, Not Acid, Cause of GERD, Study Suggests

Inflammation is Direct Cause of Acid Reflux

But these are misleading. Because when you read the JAMA study, the acid is still refluxing. It says directly in the results, “Two weeks after stopping the PPI medication, esophageal acid exposure increased.”

It’s just that the cause of the damage to the esophagus is an inflammatory response to the acid, not the acid itself.

This challenges the long-held belief that acid is directly damaging the esophagus.

But I don’t see what the big deal is here.

The acid is causing the inflammatory response. So the reason for GERD, be it chemical exposure from the acid or an inflammatory response, is still acid reflux. Inflammation is NOT the real cause of GERD as the headlines suggest.

But it’s not acid reflux either.

The Ten Million Dollar Question

Of course, those in the pharmaceutical/medical community are now calling for the development of new drugs to target the inflammation. 🙄

But in my mind, this study doesn’t change anything.

Nobody is asking the 10 million dollar question.


That’s the real cause of GERD. Who cares if it’s the acid itself or an inflammatory response to the acid that’s damaging the esophagus?!

It’s as if a stream of gasoline was flowing uphill along a path and igniting a fire at a specific spot on the path. Firefighters (the pharmaceutical companies) are continually putting out the fire without asking why the gasoline is flowing upwards in the first place.

Proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium), H2 blockers (Zantac, Pepcid) and antacids (Tums, Rolaids) rarely put out the fire for long. When people stop taking them, the fire comes raging back.

Why Low Stomach Acid is the Real Cause of GERD

It is no surprise that the participants in the study experienced intense esophageal reflux when they stopped taking PPIs. This is known as rebound acid hypersecretion. This occurs when PPI therapy is suddenly stopped and the stomach compensates for the lack of stomach acid by now overproducing acid.

Rebound acid hypersecretion is due to a LACK OF STOMACH ACID.

Those of us in the holistic health community have been saying low stomach acid is the real cause of GERD for decades now. There’s an actual medical term for low stomach acid which is known as “hypochlorhydia.” Fellow NTP, Margaret Floyd, wrote an excellent article detailing 13 signs you have hypochlorhydria. Guess what #5 is on her list? That’s right, acid reflux.

I explained the mechanism for how low stomach acid causes acid reflux in a recent post detailing the many reasons to stop taking acid blockers and I explain it in much more detail in my book, The 30 Day Heartburn Solution.

Here’s an ultra-brief summary:

Poor digestive fire (low acidity) causes food to sit in the stomach too long. Symptoms include bloating, belching, bad breath and undigested food in your stools. This maldigesting food can expand, ferment and give off gasses that put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that keeps the stomach separate from the esophagus. Over time, the LES can weaken through this continuous increased pressure and push the acidic contents of the stomach back into the esophagus which burns the lining (or in light of the new research perhaps causes an inflammatory reaction).

Now this is not to say that low stomach acid is always the reason for acid reflux. There can be many reasons including structural changes brought about by a hiatal hernia and of course, pregnancy.

But for millions of people who regularly struggle with acid reflux, there’s hope in dietary changes!

Wouldn’t it be nice if more scientific research studied the influence of food on our digestive system and offered real food solutions instead of more drug therapies?

Maybe because there’s no money in natural therapies.

Why Low Stomach Acid is a Form of Inflammation

Though inflammation in the tissues of the esophagus is not the true cause of acid reflux, low stomach acid is in many ways a symptom of general inflammation in the body.

More and more doctors believe general inflammation in the body is the root of many common diseases.

Because stomach acid is required to break down our food, a deficiency in the short-term can lead to bloating in the stomach, belching, nausea, bad breath, gas, gastritis and yes, acid reflux.

Over the long-term, chronically low stomach acid from the overuse of PPIs can lead to a greater risk of infection (source), nutrient deficiencies (source), bone loss (source) and hip fractures (source), to name a few.

So what’s the true cause of low stomach acid?

As with all things, there’s rarely a simple answer. Stress, environmental toxins, infections and hypothyroidism can play a role.

But as a Nutritional Therapist, I think poor diet is the most widespread factor because I’ve seen so many improvements when dietary changes are made.

How to Heal Low Stomach Acid Naturally with Food

First things first, you must remove all pro-inflammatory processed foods.

Because processed food is now so woven into the fabric of our culture, millions of people no longer know the difference between real food and processed food.

Most people today know that foods high in refined sugar are highly processed. But most people don’t know that most grain-based foods are also highly problematic. This flies in the face of conventional dietary advice to “eat more whole grains” but there’s a HUGE difference between modern grains, which are not properly prepared for optimal digestion and traditionally prepared grains, which are.

Traditionally, cultures fermented, sprouted and soaked grains to neutralize some of their inflammatory and hard-to-digest characteristics. But few companies do this anymore.

Americans eat A LOT of grain-based foods, to put it mildly.

If this topic is new to you, Sally Fallon does a nice job explaining the difference between modern and traditional grains in this article.

This is why in my book, step 1 of my protocol is to go grain-free for 30 days.

It’s kind of like killing two birds with one stone. Because so many grain-based foods also are high in sugar by going fully grain-free for 30 days, you’ll be restricting the two most inflammatory foods in the modern diet.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. But that’s a good start. Here’s a short list of other common pro-inflammatory foods:

  • Bad fats from nut and seed oils, especially corn, cottonseed, canola and soybean oils
  • trans fats such as partially hydrogenated oils (common in processed foods, especially snack products)
  • soy (with the exception of traditionally prepared version like miso, natto and soy sauce)
  • pasteurized dairy
  • food additives and preservatives such as MSG, food colorings, etc.

Restore with REAL Food

Once you’ve removed pro-inflammatory foods, you want to also bring in gut-healing foods which help restore the proper digestive environment to prevent acid reflux.

The three most important are healthy fats, bone broths and fermented foods. These are key pillars in every traditional culture on the planet and have many anti-inflammatory properties.

Dairy can be helpful for some, if unpasteurized, but harmful for many. And of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are important too but seriously, who doesn’t know that?

In my book, I detail the many pillars of a real food diet. All of these are anti-inflammatory and very helpful to restore proper digestive capacity which of course includes proper acid production in the stomach.

If you’d like a more thorough explanation for WHY these foods are so beneficial check out my book, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, which also includes meal plans and recipes for how to make things like bone broths and fermented foods.

Finally, though this food approach works wonders for most, many who have been on acid blockers for extended periods will often have a very difficult time stopping PPI therapy due to the long-term suppression of stomach acid, which causes the vicious rebound effect explained above. If that describes you, here’s an approach for how to wean off acid blockers.

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Heartburn, Indigestion, Acid-Reflux? How to Kick an Over-Acid Diet

Have you ever been diagnosed with Heartburn or Acid-Reflux? Both of these problems can be result of an over-acidic diet. One of our major nutritional goals for optimum health is maintaining a proper acid/alkaline balance. It is important that our diet is slightly more alkaline-forming than acid as this is the environment which is most conducive to health and the body’s natural repair process.
We are talking about the acid or alkaline ash that remains in the body after metabolism, not the actual content of the food. For example, lemon is an acid-containing food, but it leaves an alkaline residue. In fact, an excellent way to combat acidosis would be to drink water with fresh lemon juice.
The body always strive to maintain a proper acid/alkaline balance, though the more we help it along by eating the right balance of foods, the less wear and tear on the system. If an acid condition persists, however, the body will draw minerals from other areas to try to neutralize the situation. For instance, calcium, an alkaline-forming mineral, may be released from bones. This is a short-term solution which, over time, can lead to osteoporosis. Chronic over-acidity removes oxygen from the blood and can result in lowered immunity and premature aging, kidney stone formation, muscle loss, back pain, gout and other joint diseases. Chronic degenerative conditions, like cancer, tend to develop in an over acid environment. Over acidity also can produce that tired, headachy, fuzzy-headed feeling many people get, especially after eating.
There is a simple method for measuring pH (the symbol used as a measurement for acidity/alkalinity) in the urine. One can buy nitrazine or litmus paper in most drug stores. A half-inch or so of tape is dropped into a small amount of urine collected in a container. The tape turns to a color that is compared to a special chart on the package which corresponds to the acid/alkaline numbers – a pH of 7 is considered neutral; lower than 7 is acid, above is alkaline. A single urine test cannot give the total picture. The test ought to be repeated in early morning and several times during the day, and over more than one day, to establish a pattern. The numbers should not be consistently extreme on the acid side (called acidosis), or on the alkaline side (alkalosis). Either extreme is out of the normal healthy range. The ideal is a slightly alkaline pH reading of 7.365 – 7.45, but within the range of 6.0 – 7.5 is considered a healthy place to be.
The typical American diet is acidogenic, consisting of foods that have an acidifying effect on the body – too much meat, processed foods, refined sugars, chemical additives, caffeine, alcohol, as well as most prescription drugs, etc. A plant-based diet of whole, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, etc., will naturally have a more alkalinizing effect.
It should also be noted that chronic low-grade stress, so common in today’s busy, fast-paced world – is acid forming. The antidote would be to try to acknowledge and manage stress, and to incorporate activities like meditation, yoga which help relax and rebalance the system.
Clinicians have determined that a proper balance for regaining health is best achieved by eating about 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming. For maintaining health, usually 60% alkaline and 40% acid is adequate. Some practitioners suggest the following formula for every 10 foods eaten: 6 should be vegetables, 2 fruits, 1 protein, 1 starch and whole, organic grains. I have added another ingredient – fermented food, such as yogurt or naturally fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut or kim chi. Fermented food provides the beneficial intestinal flora that is a natural need of the colon.
One of the basic principles that doctors have discovered from long clinical experience and study is that healing is essentially the process of the body ridding itself of toxic materials. When at rest or asleep, the body focuses its energy on attempting to repair any biological dysfunctions, as well as “housekeeping” to release stored toxins from cells into the bloodstream for elimination. Therefore, the most toxic time is in the morning. While most people have been told repeatedly that a substantial breakfast is the best way to start the day, in many European health clinics the very opposite is the practice. They begin the early morning mostly with fruits which serve as cleansers, followed by other foods on the alkaline side because this is one of the best ways to neutralize over-acidity from accumulated toxins and to stimulate the muscular activity of the intestines to eliminate wastes. After the period of morning toxicity is relieved, one can then start on the day’s normal food intake.
People have asked me why it is that primitive man survived without a clue about his pH or what percentage of his foods should be acid or alkaline? Ah, life was simpler then! There were no fast food outlets or refined foods. There were fewer choices, so people naturally ate a more unadulterated plant-based diet. Today, we have a lot more food options, but it’s still relatively simple to eat well: just stick to a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains) with small amounts of flesh foods, a daily dose of fermented. Avoid processed/junk foods, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, soda pop, routine use of pharmaceuticals, etc.
Check your pH periodically and adjust your food intake to average in the alkaline zone. Find ways to diffuse chronic stress.
(Note: Experts often disagree about the pH of some foods, based on different testing methods or interpretations. What’s important to remember is that the human body is an amazing survival machine and Mother Nature gives us a lot of leeway. She would like us to aim high, but perfection is not necessary or even attainable. This chart gives sufficient general guidelines to help you make wise choices.)

Acid/Alkaline Food Chart

Alkaline Foods Acid Foods

Alkaline Vegetables

Lambs Lettuce
Red Cabbage
Green Beans
Grasses (wheat, straw, barley, dog, kamut etc.)
Brussels Sprouts


Watermelon (is neutral)


Other Seafood (apart from occasional oily fish such as salmon)

Dairy Products

Ice Cream


‘Green Drinks’
Fresh vegetable juice
Pure water (spring, distilled or ionised)
Lemon water (pure water + fresh lemon or lime).
Herbal Tea
Vegetable broth
Almond Milk


White Pasta
White Bread
Wholemeal Bread
Soy Sauce
Condiments (Tomato Sauce, Mayonnaise etc.)
Artificial Sweeteners


Fizzy Drinks
Fruit Juice
Dairy Smoothies
Traditional Tea

Seeds, Nuts & Grains

Buckwheat Groats
Cumin Seeds
Any sprouted seed

Convenience Foods

Microwave Meals
Tinned Foods
Powdered Soups
Instant Meals
Fast Food

Fats & Oils

Saturated Fats
Hydrogenated Oils
Margarine (worse than Butter)
Corn Oil
Vegetable Oil
Sunflower Oil

Acid / Alkaline Food Chart Source:

13 Foods That Cause Digestive Problems

While it may be stinky and smelly, poop is a good thing—but it’s not always an easy thing to do. In order to ensure your digestive system runs smoothly, you have to consume foods that can easily pass through your body after they give you an energy boost and stray from the foods that cause digestive problems.

If we’re being honest, though, we’re not exactly a nation of healthy food lovers. Many of us tend to favor the taste of less-than-stellar foods that cause digestive problems. These foods don’t pass through the digestive system as easily as say, oatmeal, or an apple. The result? Heartburn, cramping, acid reflux, inflammation, and infection. And yes, all of these things are as horrible and uncomfortable as you might imagine.

So how can you tell if you’re digestive system is suffering? You don’t have to “go” every day to be considered regular, according to the Mayo Clinic; however, if you’re heading to the loo for number two fewer than four times per week, it’s time to get to a doctor—and then head to the grocery store.

After you’ve filled your cart with foods that make you poop, scan through your cabinets and fridge and toss out the foods that cause digestive problems below. While a ground beef or soy sauce may seem innocent enough, these types of foods are essentially creating an irritating, stool-stopping sludge in your stomach.


Carbonated Beverages

Think your daily soda or seltzer habit isn’t hurting your digestion? Think again. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, drinking carbonated beverages can contribute to acid reflux. The bubbles in fizzy drinks can cause stomach discomfort and burping—a lot of burping.


Soy Sauce

Evgeny Karandaev/

Soy sauce—every sushi lover’s condiment of choice—is high in something called advanced glycation end products or AGEs, according to study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. AGEs are harmful because they contribute to increased intestinal permeability, which you may know as leaky gut syndrome. The digestive disorder can lead to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and even food allergies. The main lesson here: If you tend to get backed up after ordering in sushi, try skipping the soy sauce to see how your body reacts. We promise sushi is delicious without the stuff!


Saccharin AKA Sweet ‘N Low

There are a number of reasons you should be weary of saccharin-sweetened foods. Not only has the additive been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, a 2014 study published in the journal Nature found that saccharin damages the good bacteria that thrives in the human gut. Not only can this negatively impact digestion, it can increase the risk for glucose intolerance and diabetes, too. Ditch sugar-free sweets, jams, and canned fruits that are made with saccharin, and dial back your intake of the sweet stuff with the help of these 30 Easy Ways to Stop Eating So Much Sugar, instead.


Fried Foods

It may be fast, but fried drive-thru grub can seriously slow your digestive system down. After you eat a plate of fries, for example, the stomach has to call on the liver and gallbladder to release bile to digest all the fat, which can stall the digestion process, according to the book “Advancing Medicine with Food and Nutrients.” But the trouble doesn’t end there. Fried foods are one of the foods bad for heartburn because they relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for preventing backflow from the stomach into the esophagus. As a result, you’re more likely to have acid reflux and heartburn after your meal.


Red Meat

Gut microbiome research, or the study of how the foods we eat upset or enhance the bacteria that live in our stomachs, is a growing field of research. While certain things like yogurt and kimchi help healthy bacteria thrive, other foods, when eaten in excess, have the opposite effect. For example, a study published in the journal Nature found that certain bad bacteria (which are connected to things like gut inflammation and disease) tend to flourish in stomachs of those who follow a meat-heavy diet. But fear not, protein devotees! This doesn’t mean you have to give up burgers and steaks for good, just make sure your portions are reasonable and opt for grass-fed beef (one of these foods worth paying more for) instead of corn-fed, conventional meat.


High-Fructose Corn Syrup

The black sheep of the nutrition world, high fructose corn syrup gets a bad rep for some pretty good reasons. Not only can it make you fatter and wreak havoc on your skin, eating the stuff has been linked to gas, bloating, and stomach pain, such as abdominal cramping, according to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services. Sadly, it’s lurking in a ton of different processed foods, from salad dressing and yogurt to candy bars and soda. The moral of the story: Be sure to read food labels before you nibble.


Underripe Bananas

Waiting for your green bananas to turn yellow can feel as time-consuming as watching paint dry. However, there’s a good reason to avoid the green ones. According to the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, unripe bananas are high in tannins. In sensitive individuals, excess tannins can cause constipation by slowing down the digestive processes. (Those who don’t have tummy trouble, however, can actually benefit from this slower process. Learn more about that here!) If you typically notice issues after you eat green-ish bananas, practice patience and wait for your fruit to ripen.


Potato Chips

They made be super tasty, but these little flat, greasy bites of goodness can wreak havoc on your belly. First of all, they are fried, which means they’re bound to give you acid reflux. The grease also means they’re high in fat, a nutrient that can delay stomach emptying. Potato chips also contain the compound acrylamide, which is created in high-starch foods when they’re fried, roasted, or baked, according to the American Cancer Society. Preliminary human and test-tube studies have linked this compound with cancer, so they’re best to skip for your overall health, too. Not sure what to nosh on instead? Consider digging into some of these low-calorie snacks.



Eggs may be incredible, but for some people, they cause significant constipation, according to the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. While it may seem surprising, egg allergies are fairly common. In fact, they’re the second-most common allergy in infants and young children. If you’re egg-sensitive, eating eggs could lead to some significant stomach side effects and digestive problems, such as constipation and an upset stomach so be sure to stay away!



Conventional bread, cereals, and snacks don’t cause digestive problems for everyone, but they are to those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. To come to this finding, researchers divided 61 study participants (a relatively small group) without celiac disease into two groups. The first group took a pill each day that had almost five grams of gluten while the other group took a placebo. After a week, a significant amount of participants reported side effects related to gluten pill consumption, such as bloating, pain, difficulty thinking, and depression.



While no one can seem to agree if tomatoes are a fruit or a veggie, one this is for sure: chronic heartburn sufferers should stay away! Due to their high levels of malic and citric acids, consuming tomatoes and tomato-based foods can stimulate the body to produce gastric acid, which may cause acid reflux, according to Manhattan Gastroenterology.



We hate to rain on the donut parade, but these fried balls of dough aren’t good for your waistline or your digestive processes. Not only are they fried, a cooking process that can cause acid reflux, but they’re also loaded with inflammation-causing sugar–about 20 to 50 grams a pop, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Want to make a healthier version of the morning pastry at home?


Foods Made With Red Dye

Eating foods with an unnatural rich red color are about to become a lot less appealing. A study published in the journal Toxicological Sciences looked at the effects of red dye #2, #40, and #106 on pregnant and male mice. The researchers found all three types of dye caused DNA damage in the colon, stomach, and bladder. Damaged DNA can lead to a number of unwanted side effects ranging from inflammation to cancer. While we can’t be certain humans would suffer the same side effects, we suggest playing it safe and skipping foods prepared with these potentially toxic dyes—especially red 40, which is one of these worst food additives.

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My usual sushi order triggered a severe acid reflux reaction after I ate everything because I figured I could handle it.

Some background: there’s a place near where I live that makes terrific sushi, particularly nigiri (which looks like this). They opened another restaurant in a neighboring city that is close to where I work, so it’s more convenient. The original restaurant is 20 minutes away from my work, while the franchise is about 10 minutes away from work.

For lunch today, I called in a to go order at a local sushi place that I frequent (if I’m working) for two orders of tuna nigiri which equals four pieces.

I get to the restaurant and pay for my food and come back to work. I meet up with a coworker who got food from somewhere else and we go to the break room and eat. I didn’t think anything was wrong when I opened the container and showed my coworker my sushi, but apparently he noticed something unusual right away.

I dunked my sushi piece from the far end of the container in soy sauce and took a bite and started coughing. There was wasabi between the fish and rice already. I did not put that there, I usually leave wasabi alone. Apparently the chef had just handled wasabi before pressing the rice or something because one of the rice forms was speckled with wasabi, like it was 50% bright green. I was pissed, but I didn’t think to check my food before I left, so that was on me. I thought about calling and complaining but I didn’t in the end, though I should have. My coworker saw my reaction to the unexpected spice and said he saw it but figured I had ordered that way. I said no and that I prefer to just dip it in soy sauce.

I still ate all four pieces, because the wasabi wasn’t visible on the sushi pieces except for one. I also ate everything partly because I love tuna and I knew I could handle most of the spice because thankfully wasabi spice dissipates quickly…until I got to the super spicy one that was 50% covered in wasabi.

After I ate, I had a mild acid reflux reaction which went away after a minute because I was also drinking dairy but I had indigestion and bloating that persisted. The reflux was sporadic throughout the day because I walked around some. However, I drank a soda near dinner which triggered a worse reaction and I didn’t want to eat anything because of the pain. I ate some, but food made the reaction worse.

After that, I don’t want to go back to that place, even though it’s more convenient. I’d rather make the drive to the original restaurant even though its further away. It’s unsettling that the chef just put wasabi on the sushi without me knowing or requesting it. If I do go back, I’m definitely opening the container before I leave.

TL;DR: Took a bite of spicy sushi that I didn’t ask for and finished all the pieces and had a severe acid reflux reaction.

TL;DR again: I’m a stubborn idiot and a masochist.

If you have read and relished the supposed diets of lit-from-within celebrities, you know what you risk when you see a nutritionist. When I visited a widely recommended expert downtown last week to report frequent nausea and acid reflux that need not be elaborated on, I expected she would insist I make some modifications to what I eat. I was willing! Prepared! Short of a colonic, I was enthusiastic about it all.

She first told me to eliminate dairy—a bedfellow, she said, of inflammation and catastrophe. She banned gluten and red meat next, breaking it gently to my gut that it would be better off without bread or brisket. When she prescribed probiotics and a chelated iron supplement, I nodded, swearing to follow what was sure to be a routine of sewer-scented all-natural pills. But when she proposed that I stop eating raw fish, I froze.

I love sushi—fancy sashimi and the spicy tuna rolls that I once found at a 24-hour market in Boston both. It is a superlative food and my best and most basic treat.

“It’s hard, because we think fish is so good for us,” the nutritionist said, sympathizing. “But, really, I’d put raw fish up there with dairy and gluten. For your gut, it’s a killer.” She explained that uncooked fish makes for a cozy home for parasites and chemicals, which can eat away at your digestive tract and probably kill you. Better to grill it or bake it and stick to a straightforward cucumber-avocado roll at your local Haru. I pretended to understand what I would have to give up in that tiny office of abstemiousness. But I was not convinced.

“The reported dangers of illness brought on by eating raw fish and meat often cause fear and confusion in the minds of those who enjoy such food, either for their esthetic or nutritional benefits,” wrote Mimi Sheraton, speaking my truth in the New York Times in 1981. She went on to cite a then-recent report that recommended that “public health education should discourage the eating of raw and inadequately prepared fish or squid,” which would have caused me greater angst were it not more than three decades out of date. I resolved to seek more current wisdom.

I discovered that “public health education” had decided it better to legislate raw fish than disavow it. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene published a new round of regulations this summer that mandate that fish served raw or marinated raw must be flash frozen in order to be served, killing parasites in the process. The move, which has reduced some toro devotees to tears, only validates what many kitchens already do. A representative for the New York State Restaurant Association told the New York Times that fish is often frozen at some point in production to preserve freshness, anyway, which is bureaucratic speech for: Get over it.

It’s not only the suits who support the guidelines. Naomichi Yasuda, owner of the revered Sushi Yasuda, has imported and then frozen fresh tuna for at least a decade. The late Nobu 57 chef Shin Tsujimura reported that even he could not “tell the difference between fresh and frozen in a blind test.”

The method is almost foolproof—if perhaps not essential. An expert in the virulent nature of Manhattan-born unease, Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center director Dr. Gina Sam told me that the parasites eliminated by a quick cool are not even very common in the United States. “If you have a normal digestive system and the fish is prepared in a clean environment,” she says, “you should be okay.”

Nutritionist Dana James weighed in too, explaining that while raw fish is a more likely to be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites than cooked fish, the precautions that restaurants take are proven to minimize risk. “Should you avoid sushi? Not necessarily,” James says. “Just remember we are constantly exposed to pathogens, and they rarely cause havoc in the body, but when they do you know it! Your stomach becomes bigger than your boobs!” Besides, James adds, “I love fluke crudo too much to give it up.”

Garden vegetables can be as perilous as undercooked or raw fish.

Pointing to recent recalls of spinach and cucumbers, New York-based nutritionist Amy Shapiro reasons that garden vegetables can be as perilous as undercooked or raw fish. Chipotle scrambled to switch tomato suppliers earlier this year when it discovered that a bad batch of the juicy fruits had caused a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota. Hysteria so overwhelmed customers in the state that a Department of Health spokesman had to eat a “fully loaded burrito bowl” just to prove that all was well. Brave man. Listeria outbreaks have forced companies like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and Blue Bell to shut down production.

Nu-Train nutritionist Heather Bauer gave this final reassurance to rescue me from the brink. “For a healthy person,” Bauer says, “the risks are so small they’re just not something I worry about.” While she advises patients with compromised immune systems to opt for a seared salmon over a zippy ceviche, Bauer sees no need for me to renounce it. “When someone feels sick when they eat sushi, I always want to know, ‘Did you use a ton of soy sauce? Did you eat a lot of edamame?’ The fish might not be problematic, but the gluten in soy sauce or just the soy in something like edamame can be an irritant.”

“Try a squeeze of lemon over your sushi for that hit of acid, if you want,” she tells me, treating me very much like the addict I am. “See how it feels.”

So bolstered, I consider whether I want to sneak down to Whole Foods for a salmon-avocado roll for lunch. But visions of tapeworms stall me. I know whom I have to consult. I visit and search for raw-fish recipes.

A description of tuna poke seals the deal. While her royal goopness cautions that “eating raw fish of unknown provenance and freshness can always be a little dubious,” she declares that she is “totally on board” with the raw-fish dish. Elsewhere, she extols the virtues of “omega-3 fatty acid packed fish” and deems the protein “great for those on a cleanse.” Sushi—it probably won’t kill you, might just make you stronger.

Mattie Kahn Mattie Kahn is a writer who lives in New York.

10 Foods That Can Help Fight Acid Reflux, So Eat These If You Have Heartburn

If you get acid reflux, you know how uncomfortable the feeling can be. Despite trying to cut out the right foods, you still may be experiencing heartburn, so it’s helpful to know what foods can actually fight acid reflux. What you eat is important when it comes to preventing gastrointestinal issues, and certain foods can work wonders to relieve discomfort and prevent future issues.

Sixty percent of the adult population will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease each year, and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms, according to Healthline. But what exactly causes these symptoms?

“Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle that separates your stomach from your chest and the upper part of the stomach shift above the diaphragm,” Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN, tells Bustle. “When the diaphragm is in its correct position, it keeps acid inside the stomach. When it shifts, however, the acid can flow back up the esophagus contributing to symptoms of acid reflux.”

Switching to lower-acidic foods can help prevent build up of acid in your stomach. If you suffer from acid reflux and want to change up the way you eat, try incorporating these 11 foods into your lifestyle, which can help prevent the pesky condition.

1. Almond Milk

You may have heard to drink milk to help with acid reflux, but almond milk might be the better solution. “Sometimes cows milk can contribute to reflex, so almond milk is a great substitution,” Warren says. “Almond milk is alkaline — the opposite of acidic — helping to combat acid reflux.”

According to Healthline, other types of milk can be high in fat content, and some high-fat foods may actually make heartburn worse. Almond milk, or other types of plant-based milk like soy, flax, cashew, or coconut, will not only alleviate symptoms, it can be a better alternative for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.

2. Oatmeal

Julia Sudnitskaya/

Oatmeal is quick, tasty, and can be the perfect breakfast food if you have issues with acid reflux.

“Because oatmeal is a whole grain, it has a lot of fiber and is not an acidic food,” Warren says. “As a result, it will help fill your stomach and lessen the chance of having a reflux issue. It may also soothe your symptoms.”

Healthline also notes that if you are looking for other options, fiber-rich foods like whole-grain bread and whole-grain rice will have a similar effect on acid reflux symptoms.

3. Yogurt

Eating fermented foods rich in probiotics help increase the presence of good bacteria, according to Mayo Clinic. “Foods with healthy bacteria may help improve digestion and reduce the frequency of acid reflux,” nutritionist Lisa Hugh tells Bustle.

According to Harvard Health, low-fat yogurt with fruit or nuts is a great option for breakfast. Include some of that whole-grain toast, and you have a fiber-rich meal that won’t cause you any irritation.

4. Kimchi

Like yogurt, kimchi, a Korean staple made with fermented vegetables, is full of probiotics, making it another great choice for better digestion. Cabbage also contains a substance known as vitamin U, which has anti-ulcer properties, according to research from the Western Journal of Medicine.

But be careful when it comes to your daily intake of probiotics. For some, having too many probiotics can cause an overgrowth in bacteria, resulting in a slew of other stomach issues. If this is a concern for you, consult your doctor.

5. Ginger


There’s a reason that ginger is always recommended when you’re having stomach issues — it can actually help.

“Ginger has been long used to treat gastrointestinal issues because of its soothing properties,” Warren says. “It is known to be an anti-inflammatory food that can help combat symptoms of acid reflux.”

If you’re looking for some ways to incorporate ginger into your day, try a ginger tea, or make a smoothie with some ginger in it.

6. Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera is good for more than just treating sunburns — it can help soothe the gastrointestinal tract as well. According to research from the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, drinking aloe vera juice can help prevent acid reflux, as it can decrease inflammation.

And, there are a few more benefits to drinking aloe vera juice. According to Healthline, aloe vera juice may help lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels, and replenish your skin.

7. Fennel

“Fennel is another known food to be used to help combat digestive problems including heartburn,” Warren says. The herb contains an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient called anethole, according to Medical Daily, which can relax the stomach walls.

Web MD notes that fennel has the ability to relax the colon, which can help with digestive issue like colitis, and indigestion. Because it also has the ability to mimic estrogen, fennel extract may even be able to reduce period pain in some people.

8. Rice


Bland starches are good choices when it comes to foods that are easy on the stomach lining, according to SF Gate. Plain pasta, baked potatoes, and bread are other good options as well — just be sure not to load them up with butter or other acidic, high-fat condiments that could cause acid reflux.

9, Green Vegetables

“Vegetables such as broccoli and celery are low acidic foods,” Warren says. “As a result, they can soothe the esophageal lining.” Other good veggies include asparagus and green beans, according to WebMD.

Cleveland Clinic also notes that generally, fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables are safe for people with acid reflux. However, if those vegetables are fried or creamed, the addition of high-fat ingredients could aggravate the stomach.

10. Low-Acid Fruits

Africa Studio/

“Even though a lot of fruits are acidic, contributing to acid reflux, low-acid fruits are a good bet,” Warren says. Low-acid fruits include bananas and melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.

Some fruits you may want to steer clear of are oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, pineapples, and tomatoes, Healthline says. These foods are highly acidic and can cause acid reflux symptoms.

Eating these foods regularly can help prevent acid reflux, but be sure to avoid other foods such as coffee, citrus, alcohol, fried foods, and spicy foods to keep your symptoms at bay.

This post was originally published on August 10, 2016. It was updated on June 3, 2019. Additional reporting by Kristin Magaldi.

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