Yogurt and acid reflux

10 Foods & Drinks To Eat To Avoid Acid Reflux Every Day

Food is one of the greatest joys in life, but as all of us have experienced at one time or another, eating certain foods can bring discomfort. This is especially true if you’re sensitive to certain ingredients, textures or flavors, or have a tendency to eat super quickly. A food-related discomfort that’s particularly annoying (and can be painful) is acid reflux, or heartburn, which arises (ahem) when food isn’t digested well. Eating foods and drinks that prevent acid reflux can help decrease the chances of heartburn, indigestion, pain, nausea, and increase the chances you get the most out of what you eat.

“Acid reflux occurs when there is a weakening in the sphincter between your esophagus and stomach,” Samantha Cochrane, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle. “As the sphincter weakens, pressure changes cause the acidic contents of the stomach to come up into the esophagus.” Things like hormonal changes, smoking, certain medications, and particular foods can lead to acid reflux, Cochrane says. Working low-acid drinks and food into your diet can help you get ahead of any potential reflux situations.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on having healthy digestion, and with this, we usually discuss eating slower in order to be more mindful and to ease the digestive process, without overwhelming the body with large amounts of protein, acid, and other substances that your digestive system then has to pass. Such overwhelm can delay the digestive process and cause symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn and indigestion, as well as a bad taste in the mouth, trouble breathing, and scratchiness.

While avoiding foods that cause acid reflux isn’t always possible — imagine Sunday dinners without spaghetti and meatballs, for instance — it’s worth keeping this list in the back of your mind for times you *especially* want to avoid acid reflux.

Here are 10 foods and drinks that can help prevent acid reflux.

1. Bananas & Melon

In general, the name of the game in terms of eating to avoid acid reflux will be to eat low-acid food and drinks — and that includes fruit. Avoiding citrus or other acidic fruit can help prevent acid reflux, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Bananas and melons, by contrast, are lower in acid, meaning that they are less likely to trigger acid reflux symptoms, according to Dr. Jamie Koufman, who recommended these fruits to The New York Times.

2. Oatmeal

Other great, low-acid snacks? Toss some bananas in your oatmeal. The classic breakfast cereal has a pH of 7.2, says The New York Times, making it a very neutral addition to your day (no pun intended). Oatmeal can go down real easy and keep you full for hours to come. It can also help with other digestive processes, with one 2005 study finding that oatmeal helped babies with acid reflux poop better. The more you know!

3. Fruity/Flavored Gum

Chewing gum can help manage acid reflux in a surprising way; it encourages saliva production, and saliva, which is low in acid, helps soothe your irritated esophagus, according to Harvard Health. Spearmint or peppermint, though, can lead trigger acid reflux, Cochrane says, so it’s better to stick to fruit-flavored gum or another more neutral flavor.

4. Ginger

Ginger has been used as a folk remedy for acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn for centuries, according to Harvard Health. The science on it’s effects on heartburn are so-so: a 2019 review of ginger’s effects on digestion found that while ginger had a net positive effect on nausea, one of its few, rare side effects was actually heartburn. Regardless, the study concluded that “ginger could be considered a harmless and possibly effective alternative option” for nausea and other digestive issues, and that more research is needed, so if ginger helps you, more power to you. Eat plain or toss into a veggie dish with a meal. You can also toss some in a juice, water, or smoothie, and take a few sips after eating.

5. Almond Milk

According to Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist in Washington, DC, and author of Gutbliss in interview with Prevention, drinking almond milk can get rid of acid reflux and help prevent it from occurring due to its key nutrients and ability to alkalinize the body and allow it to thrive in a proper state.

“Sometimes cow’s milk can contribute to reflux, so almond milk is a great substitution,” Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN, told Bustle for a previous article on acid reflux. “Almond milk is alkaline — the opposite of acidic — helping to combat acid reflux.” Drink plain or add to smoothies after a meal.

6. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, skyr, or kefir which have strains of healthy gut promoting bacteria and probiotic properties, have been shown to help prevent acid reflux.

“Foods with healthy bacteria may help improve digestion and reduce the frequency of acid reflux,” nutritionist Lisa Hugh previously told Bustle. Have a yogurt for breakfast or snack. It’s also packed with other vital nutrients and protein!

7. Licorice

Similar to ginger, licorice is a long-touted herbal remedy for heartburn. A 2014 review of case reports found that deglycyrrhizinated licorice helped children manage acid reflux as a part of a broader integrative treatment. (Deglycyrrhizinated means that a compound linked to high blood pressure has been removed.) You can pick this up in tablet form at your pharmacy.

8. Fennel

If you don’t like the taste of licorice, you probably won’t like the taste of fennel, either, but know that both of these bitterly sweet herbs can help with acid reflux, according to Providence St. Joseph’s Health. Fennel has powerful abilities to help soothe the stomach and digestive process and to reduce acid. Consume fennel as part of a salad or after a meal for the best results.

9. Lean Protein

While food that has a higher fat content isn’t necessarily “bad” for you — avocados, for example, are chock-full of it — fat can exacerbate acid reflux. “Choosing lean protein sources such as lean meats, fish, beans, legumes, and low-fat dairy can help prevent reflux when substituted for proteins higher in fat,” Cochrane says.

10. Aloe

You might think of aloe vera as a gel you use to treat sunburn, but the anti-inflammatory effects that make it a soothing post-vacation skin treatment also make the plant effective at managing acid reflux. A randomized control trial published in 2015 found that it was “safe and well tolerated and reduced the frequencies of all the assessed GERD symptoms.” You can pick it up as a juice from most supermarkets.

If you notice acid reflux symptoms, it might be a good idea to change up your food choices so that you can feel better and more comfortable after a delicious meal. Cochrane suggests eating slowly, eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, and waiting at least three hours after eating before lying down. But ultimately, if acid reflux is getting in the way of living your life, you should speak to your doctor about ways you can manage it.

“If you notice that any home remedies have to be used more and more frequently to manage symptoms of reflux, it’s time to talk to a doctor about what you can do to better manage those symptoms,” Cochrane says. “Uncontrolled reflux can cause damage to the esophagus and increase risk of further health problems over time.”

Experts

Samantha Cochrane, RD, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Studies Referenced

Heartburn and Yogurt: Does Yogurt Cure or Cause Heartburn?

Yes yogurt does cure heartburn but yes yogurt also causes heartburn!

When you first think about this question you would have probably expected this question to have a very definite answer either one way or the other. Simple logic would apparently require this, as how could the same food possibly both seemingly cure and cause the same condition.

However if you consider the matter in a little more detail you start to see how this could be possible as not all yogurts are the same, they have different levels of fat content as well as different levels of acidity and different ingredients. Unfortunately a yogurt doesn’t have to contain just yogurt and if you read the ingredients list of a diet yogurt you might start to wonder just how much yogurt it contains.

So why does yogurt cause heartburn or acid reflux

Compared to milk, yogurt is a much more acidic food and depending upon the variety chosen it can be quite high in fat. Some luxury yogurts have added cream or are given a more intense flavor by the addition of milk powder or other ingredients. It is the fat content which does the damage as fatty foods have to stay in our stomach for longer because they are more difficult to breakdown and digest. This means our stomach has to produce more acid over a longer period.

If you believe that yogurt is aggravating your heartburn and acid reflux symptoms you can either try switching to a type of zero fat yogurt with no unexpected added ingredients which also contains probiotics or you may need to stop eating yogurt altogether as there do appear to be a small percentage of unfortunate people who cannot tolerate yogurt without it causing them heartburn or acid reflux.

So why does yogurt cure heartburn or acid reflux

If you choose one of the fat free yogurts on the market that are totally natural and contain probiotics it can have a very positive influence on the systems of heartburn or acid reflux. The probiotics restore the equilibrium of the acidity levels in the stomach and the cooling effect of the natural yogurt on the inflamed esophagus gives almost instant relief.

How do I know whether yogurt will help my heartburn or cause it.

Unfortunately there is no test you can take and you can only find out the answer to this question by trial and error.

Chocolate, wine and spicy foods may be OK for heartburn

Stanford Report, June 21, 2006

By Louis Bergeron

Lauren Gerson

Patients have been known to hug Lauren Gerson, MD, so overjoyed are they at hearing her words. What does she say to them? Go ahead and eat chocolate. Indulge your passion for spicy cuisine. Drink red wine. Enjoy coffee when you want it, have that orange juice with breakfast and, what the heck, eat a grapefruit, too. Gerson says that for most heartburn patients, there’s insufficient evidence to support the notion that eating these foods will make heartburn worse or that cutting them out will make it go away.

Many of Gerson’s patients walk into her clinic upset, having been advised elsewhere to severely limit their diets to help reduce their heartburn symptoms. But recent research by Gerson, assistant professor of medicine, indicates there’s no evidence to support a need for dietary deprivation, except for the unlucky few whose heartburn is clearly triggered by a particular food.

Gerson’s advice runs counter to the long-standing recommendations of virtually every professional organization of gastroenterologists, including the American College of Gastroenterology, as well as the National Institutes of Health. For the past 15-20 years, the standard treatment for heartburn has been to cut out the aforementioned culinary joys—along with fried and fatty foods, all alcoholic and carbonated beverages, tobacco and mint—and to stop eating three hours before lying down. In addition, you’re advised to keep your weight under control. Those lifestyle changes coupled with antacids and various over-the-counter and prescription medications have been the accepted first line of treatment.

But Gerson, a practicing gastroenterologist for seven years and director of Stanford’s Esophageal and Small Bowel Disorder Center, said the stream of “very unhappy” patients referred to her clinic by outside doctors caused her to doubt the efficacy of the usual treatment advice. “The patients were on very bland diets and cutting out coffee and wine and everything that they enjoy—and basically their heartburn wasn’t getting any better,” she said. “So I decided that maybe it’s time to look and see if these lifestyle measures really work.”

In the May 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, Gerson and two other physicians at the School of Medicine—Tonya Kaltenbach, MD, and Seth Crockett, MD—published the results of a systematic survey they conducted of more than 2,000 studies published worldwide on heartburn, also known as acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), between 1975 and 2004. They found 100 studies looking at lifestyle factors thought to be associated with heartburn. Only 16 of those studies examined how implementing lifestyle changes affect heartburn symptoms, and these studies were the focus of their article.

Their conclusion: There is currently no evidence to show that any of the dietary restrictions usually recommended make a difference. They found only two lifestyle changes for which there was evidence of a clear benefit from making a change. First, if you’re overweight, then losing some pounds will reduce or even eliminate the amount of heartburn you suffer. Second, raising the head of your bed will cut down on the amount of stomach acid that can enter your esophagus while you sleep.

But Gerson noted a conundrum in her counsel. Although there is no evidence that ceasing consumption of the suspect foods will reduce heartburn, some of the studies did show that certain of the foods (such as chocolate and carbonated beverages) can reduce the pressure exerted by the esophageal sphincter, the control valve that keeps the food you’ve swallowed and your digestive acids down in your stomach, where they belong.

Heartburn is most commonly caused when the esophageal sphincter relaxes more often than it is supposed to, allowing stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus. That causes a burning sensation behind the breastbone or acidic fluid surging up into the mouth. So it might seem logical to think that if a particular food has been shown to cause a loosening of the sphincter, then eliminating that food from your diet would allow the sphincter to tighten up, thus reducing your heartburn. But, no, said Gerson, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case, because simply eliminating a certain food doesn’t fix the main problem of the esophageal sphincter relaxing too readily.

Gerson’s experiences with her patients back that up.

“It’s very rare to see a patient who says, ‘Oh, I just changed my diet and everything got better,'” she said, “though this might be the case for patients with milder heartburn symptoms who never walk into the doctor’s office for advice.”

The cause of the conundrum lies in the nature of the studies that have been done. They generally looked at whether a particular food decreased the pressure exerted by the sphincter or increased the acidity in the stomach, but not at whether taking that food out of a patient’s diet made any difference.

For example, Gerson said, “There were 14 studies that examined the effect of coffee on sphincter pressure and acidity in the esophagus, and none of them demonstrated a change after coffee consumption. To date, no one has done a study where they took patients and told them to cut coffee out for several days to see if their sphincter pressures or acid profiles markedly improved.”

Gerson and her co-authors said that to really sort out how effective, or ineffective, dietary and lifestyle changes are in combating GERD, future research has to be designed to specifically look at the effects of implementing those measures.

Most physicians treating a heartburn sufferer will generally put them on a medication, in addition to any lifestyle changes they recommend. These days that’s usually a proton pump inhibitor, which reduces the amount of acid secreted in the stomach.

Gerson said that for the most part, medication alone is adequate to treat the symptoms of heartburn. “The main reason they probably have heartburn is that their sphincter muscle is relaxing too much and taking the medicine will decrease the amount of acid that’s going into their esophagus,” she said.

“Since I don’t have a lot of evidence that changing their diet dramatically is going to take the heartburn away, it makes more sense just to take the medicine,” she added.

That said, Gerson allowed that for some patients, a minor change in diet can make sense. “If a patient comes in and states, ‘Red wine really gives me terrible heartburn,’ then it may be reasonable to say, ‘Well, you could avoid it, or you could take a medication before you drink some red wine,'” she said.

According to the ACG, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and estimates are that more than 15 million suffer from it daily. For the great majority of those sufferers, Gerson’s recent findings could free them from the bonds of dietary self-denial. She is considering doing studies of her own to learn more about what effects dietary changes actually have—or don’t have—on heartburn.

“It probably wouldn’t be that hard to recruit volunteers for a study of chocolate,” Gerson noted. “People like to eat chocolate.”

Yogurt Vs. Milk – Which One’s Better For Acid Reflux?

While both are dairy products, yogurt and milk have different effects on acid reflux. Read on to find out why yogurt is beneficial for acid reflux and why milk is not.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Yogurt is made by adding a starter or ‘bacterial cultures’ to pasteurized, homogenized, warm milk. In this warm temperature, the bacteria convert lactose (the main sugar in dairy products) into lactic acid. This makes it acidic, with a potential of Hydrogen (pH) ranging from 4 to 5. A pH scale of less than 7 is acidic. Whereas milk is non-acidic, with a pH of about 7.

Interestingly, the acidity level of a food does not determine whether it is an ‘acid-forming food’ or not. Yogurt, though acidic in nature, is a low acid-forming food, because it does not affect the acid-alkaline balance of the body.

Yogurt has Probiotics (Good Bacteria)

Bad bacteria in the digestive tract are one of the causes of acid reflux. Probiotics are microorganisms (certain bacteria and yeasts) that are good for the body. These probiotics or ‘good bacteria’ prevent the bad bacteria from growing rapidly. Probiotics also help in reducing inflammation of the stomach caused by acid reflux.

Yogurt is Easier to Digest

The bacteria in it release an enzyme in the stomach that makes it easier to break down lactose. Because of its sugar content, lactose is hard to digest.

Milk can Aggravate Acid Reflux

In a study conducted by Gut and Liver, an international journal of gastroenterology, it was found that cow’s milk aggravated acid reflux among participants. They also found that medication for GERD was ineffective because of milk in the diet. When it was removed from the diet of the participants, their condition improved.

To conclude, although milk has numerous health benefits, it’s one of the foods to avoid for acid reflux.

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Q: I have had severe heartburn problems for 15 years. I have tried Nexium, Prilosec and many other over-the-counter medicines.

I knew that coffee triggered my heartburn, but I could not give it up. After one bad attack, I started eating yogurt each morning. I’ve been free of heartburn, even after three cups of coffee.

I mentioned this to a friend whose husband also had a severe heartburn problem. He tried eating yogurt each evening, and he also has been heartburn-free.

There must be something in the yogurt that is keeping heartburn at bay. What might it be?

A: Japanese researchers confirm your experience (Pharmaceuticals, June 25, 2014). People with persistent heartburn who had not achieved symptom relief with acid-suppressing drugs took yogurt with active lactobacillus daily for three months. This probiotic treatment improved symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Although coffee is considered a prime culprit in causing GERD, a recent meta-analysis determined that there is no significant association between heartburn symptoms and coffee intake (Diseases of the Esophagus, May-June 2014).

Q: The People’s Pharmacy is batting 3-for-3 in our household. First, it was the fresh-cut onion to ease the pain of a bee string. Next it was soy sauce on a kitchen burn.

Then I cut my thumb chopping an onion. The cut wasn’t serious, but there was a lot of bleeding — until I remembered your black-pepper solution. I had to grind the pepper with one hand, but I was amazed at how fast and well it worked. It also promoted healing. Amazing!

A: Thank you for this lovely testimonial. Having the pepper preground can be helpful for such a situation, even if you only use fresh-ground in cooking. These remedies and hundreds more can be found in our book “Quick and Handy Home Remedies,” available in libraries or online at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: I have a question about consuming coconut oil. A psychiatrist I know said that a person could avoid Alzheimer’s disease with mental stimulation, regular exercise, vitamin E and virgin coconut oil in the diet.

I was always under the impression that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels. Have there been any new studies about coconut oil to indicate that it’s now beneficial for health? How about drinking coconut juice?

A: Coconut has been controversial for decades. Preliminary animal research suggests that coconut juice might be helpful in preventing brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease (British Journal of Nutrition, March 14 2011). We will be interested to see whether clinical trials in humans demonstrate similar benefits.

Because coconut oil is high in saturated fat, nutritionists have discouraged its inclusion in the diet. But there is growing recognition that the evidence behind this prohibition is not very strong. The assumption was that saturated fat from any source would raise cholesterol and increase the likelihood of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.

A meta-analysis that included 72 studies did not find a link between saturated-fat consumption and the risk of heart disease or stroke (Annals of Internal Medicine, March 18, 2014). A review of dietary fats and health cited studies showing health benefits from coconut-oil consumption (Advances in Nutrition, May 1, 2013).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th floor, New York, NY 10019, or via their website: www.peoplespharmacy.org

This Article is Written and/or Reviewed by RefluxMD Medical Authors Team and Reviewers

Each week we receive a number of excellent questions that require only a short response – and yet, they are still valuable to you, the visitors to RefluxMD. We will try to provide these short responses each week to answer more questions and to help you find your path to relief. This week, we turn our focus to diet and give you a few ideas for satisfying your sweet tooth without aggravating your GERD symptoms.

Do you have a question? We’d love to answer it! Just submit your question using the form at the bottom of this page.

Your question:

What are some good healthy desserts for those of us with acid reflux?

RefluxMD response:

Great question! Just because you have acid reflux doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your sweet tooth! Unfortunately, some items commonly included in desserts are also common GERD trigger foods, such as:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee and drinks with caffeine
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Foods with mint
  • Alcohol and after-dinner drinks

When it comes to trigger foods, remember that everyone is different. If you find that those items trigger your symptoms, then it is best to avoid them as much as possible. On the flip side, if they don’t seem to make your symptoms worse, then there’s no reason to skip them.

A few other things to remember when you start to think about eating healthy desserts:

  • Low calorie desserts are better in the long-term than high calorie desserts since maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of controlling GERD.
  • Portion control is essential to avoid GERD symptoms, so keep your dessert sizes smaller. Remember, this dessert is in addition to the meal you just consumed and a small portion is often enough to indulge your craving for something sweet.
  • Be sure you allow three hours after dessert before you go to sleep.

So what healthy desserts are good for people with GERD?

From an earlier article on our website titled Sorry! Chocolate is not on your GERD diet menu, we highlighted several alternatives to chocolate. Also, in our new diet program we outline 20 snacks that can also double as healthy desserts. Here are a few ideas:

  • Non-citrus fruits
  • Angel food cake
  • Low-fat candies like gummy bears, red licorice, and jelly beans
  • Pistachios, almonds, and other nuts
  • Low-fat yogurt with non-citrus fruits
  • Peaches
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.)
  • Instant pudding
  • Cottage cheese and apples
  • Non-fat frozen yogurt

Finally, in our recipe section we also offer several very tasty healthy desserts:

Cantaloupe sorbet – 116 calories

Vanilla almond parfait – 199 calories

Baked bananas – 190 calories

Peachy cobbler – 271 calories

Banana date mousse – 145 calories

Coconut rice pudding – 190 calories

Pineapple ambrosia – 165 calories

Finally, don’t forget about our delicious smoothies for a tasty after-dinner drink!

We hope this helps

By the way, you can help us reach others like you with similar questions by simply going to our Facebook page and clicking the LIKE BUTTON!

Please note, RefluxMD does not provide medical advice. This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for direct medical advice from your health care provider. See our Terms of Use for more detailed information.

Reflux-Friendly Baked Dessert Recipes

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

Each recipe here includes fruit, which ups the fiber content and overall healthiness. And, of course, fruit is low in fat. One of the healthiest desserts you can eat? Fruit! Now, if you have acid reflux, citrus is most likely out of the picture for you.

When fruit alone won’t cut it, make one of these desserts. Pairing fruit with some fat and baking it was never a bad idea, even for people with acid reflux.

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/mtreasure

Blueberry Cherry Crisp

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 33–38 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/3 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups frozen cherries, thawed

2 cups frozen blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-9-inch glass dish with unsalted butter and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, and macadamia nuts. Set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt.

    Heat the mixture over low heat until the butter melts, about 3 minutes. Stir the oil and butter mixture and pour it over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until the mixture becomes crumbly.

  4. Place the cherries and blueberries into the prepared glass dish.

  5. Spoon the oatmeal mixture over the berries. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crisp is bubbly and the topping has browned. Serve 1-1/2 cups per serving.

Drizzle each serving with a bit of honey. This crisp is just as good cold the next day, so pack some in your lunchbox for a special treat.

Old-Fashioned Baked Apples with Tahini Raisin Filling

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

4 ripe apples

3/4 cup tahini

1 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons raisins

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

Dash of vanilla

3/4 cup boiling water

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

  2. With a paring knife or apple corer, remove the apple core to 1/2 inch of the bottom of each apple. Make the holes about 3/4 inch to 1 inch wide. Use a spoon to dig out the seeds. Set the apples in a shallow baking dish, top side up.

  3. In a small bowl, vigorously mix the tahini and 1/2 cup of the apple juice. Add the raisins, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and mix the ingredients together.

  4. Fill each cored apple with this filling.

  5. Add the boiling water to the baking pan.

  6. Pour a bit of the remaining apple juice over each apple before baking.

  7. Bake the apples for 30 to 40 minutes until tender but not mushy.

  8. Remove the apples from the oven and baste the apples several times with the remaining juices. Serve warm.

As a traditional dessert, this recipe is especially nice to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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