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What to Drink for Acid Reflux?

What to Drink for Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and sometimes pain. It’s a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide. While medications and lifestyle changes are often recommended to manage acid reflux, what you drink can also play a significant role in either alleviating or aggravating symptoms. In this article, we’ll explore various beverages and their effects on acid reflux, helping you make informed choices for better digestive health.

Understanding Acid Reflux

Before delving into what to drink for acid reflux, it’s crucial to understand the condition itself. Normally, a muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) keeps stomach acid where it belongs — in the stomach. However, when this valve weakens or relaxes abnormally, acid can escape into the esophagus, leading to symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.

What to Drink for Acid Reflux?

What you drink can significantly impact acid reflux symptoms. Certain beverages can relax the LES or increase stomach acid production, exacerbating reflux. Others may soothe irritation or neutralize acid, providing relief. Here’s a closer look at different types of drinks and their effects:

  • Water

Water is generally the best choice for staying hydrated and maintaining overall health. It’s neutral in pH and won’t aggravate acid reflux symptoms. In fact, drinking water may help dilute stomach acid, reducing its potential to cause irritation in the esophagus. Sipping water throughout the day can also help wash away acid lingering in the throat.

  • Herbal Teas

Certain herbal teas can be soothing for acid reflux sufferers. Chamomile tea, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties that may help calm the stomach and reduce irritation in the esophagus. Ginger tea is another popular option, known for its ability to aid digestion and alleviate nausea, both of which can be beneficial for those with acid reflux.

  • Non-Citrus Juices

While citrus juices like orange juice and grapefruit juice are acidic and can trigger reflux symptoms in some individuals, non-citrus juices like apple juice or pear juice are generally gentler on the stomach. Just be sure to choose juices that are low in acidity and free from added sugars, as excess sugar intake can exacerbate reflux.

  • Alkaline Water

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular water, which some believe may help neutralize stomach acid and reduce acid reflux symptoms. However, scientific evidence supporting the benefits of alkaline water for acid reflux is limited, and more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.

  • Milk

Milk is often thought to provide relief from acid reflux due to its soothing properties. While milk may temporarily coat the esophagus and provide relief from heartburn symptoms, it can actually stimulate the stomach to produce more acid in the long run, worsening reflux for some individuals. Additionally, full-fat dairy products can be high in fat, which can further aggravate symptoms.

  • Low-Fat Dairy Alternatives

If you find that dairy exacerbates your acid reflux symptoms, consider opting for low-fat or non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk. These alternatives are typically lower in fat and may be better tolerated by individuals with reflux.

  • Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera juice is derived from the aloe vera plant and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritation in the esophagus. Some studies suggest that drinking aloe vera juice may help reduce symptoms of acid reflux, although more research is needed to confirm its efficacy.

  • Coconut Water

Coconut water is a natural source of hydration that is low in acidity and may help soothe the digestive tract. While there isn’t much scientific evidence specifically linking coconut water to improved acid reflux symptoms, it’s generally considered a safe and refreshing beverage choice.

  • Peppermint Tea

While peppermint tea is often enjoyed for its refreshing flavor and potential digestive benefits, it may worsen acid reflux symptoms in some individuals. Peppermint can relax the LES and allow stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, leading to heartburn and discomfort. If you have acid reflux, it’s best to consume peppermint tea in moderation or avoid it altogether.

  • Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages like soda and sparkling water can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms due to their carbonation and acidity. The bubbles in these drinks can expand in the stomach, putting pressure on the LES and causing it to relax, which can lead to reflux. It’s best to limit or avoid carbonated beverages if you have acid reflux.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol is a known trigger for acid reflux and can worsen symptoms in many individuals. It can relax the LES, increase stomach acid production, and irritate the esophagus, leading to heartburn and discomfort. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and pay attention to how it affects your reflux symptoms.

Conclusion

When it comes to managing acid reflux, paying attention to what you drink can make a significant difference in your symptoms. Opting for beverages that are low in acidity, soothing to the digestive tract, and unlikely to relax the LES can help alleviate discomfort and promote better digestive health. Remember to stay hydrated with water, and consider incorporating herbal teas, non-citrus juices, and low-fat dairy alternatives into your diet. As always, it’s essential to listen to your body and avoid beverages that exacerbate your acid reflux symptoms. If you’re unsure about which drinks are best for you, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance. With the right choices, you can effectively manage acid reflux and enjoy greater comfort and well-being.

Written by Amy Fischer

Amy, a registered dietitian at the Good Housekeeping Institute's Nutrition Lab, brings a wealth of expertise to nutrition, health content, and product testing. With a journalism degree from Miami University of Ohio and a master's in clinical nutrition from NYU, she's a versatile expert. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping, Amy worked as a cardiac transplant dietitian at a prominent NYC hospital and contributed to clinical nutrition textbooks. Her background also includes PR and marketing work with food startups.

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