Highly acidic foods can lead to heartburn in some people. If a low-acid diet is part of your GERD relief strategy, here's where to start.
Regular heartburn sufferers know the importance of avoiding the foods that trigger their reflux. Certain foods that are high in saturated fat, for example, can loosen the pressure of the sphincter muscle, located at the top of the stomach. If it’s not tightly “shut,” it allows food and stomach acid to backwash into the esophagus and throat, causing heartburn.
Heartburn Remedies 10 Drinks (🔥 Acid Reflux) | Heartburn Remedies 12 Tipshow to Heartburn Remedies for While keeping acids in their place is one way of avoiding heartburn, another school of thought encourages avoiding highly acidic foods, too, as a way of stopping the acid before it’s even in the stomach.
Quick chemistry lesson: Water’s pH is 7, which is neutral. Anything lower is acidic, and anything higher is basic (or alkaline). Dropping by 1 on the pH scale means the acidity is 10 times higher, so even small decreases in pH can mean big increases in for 1 last update 14 Jul 2020 acidity.Quick chemistry lesson: Water’s pH is 7, which is neutral. Anything lower is acidic, and anything higher is basic (or alkaline). Dropping by 1 on the pH scale means the acidity is 10 times higher, so even small decreases in pH can mean big increases in acidity.
A normal stomach pH is between 1 and 4. It’s already acidic. “The stomach’s pH is low because it secretes gastric acid, which plays a large role in food breakdown,” explains Michelle Duong Davenport, MA, an adjunct instructor at New York University and a researcher at the NYU School of Medicine.
Some History on Low-Acid Foods
Experts currently discourage reflux sufferers from eating certain foods and beverages known to cause heartburn, such as chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, and alcohol. Doing so can help prevent heartburn in some people, but everyone is different.
One study even makes a case for following a diet centered the 1 last update 14 Jul 2020 on low-acid foods.One study even makes a case for following a diet centered on low-acid foods.
The small study, published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology,included 20 people who continued to suffer from reflux symptoms despite standard treatment with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and an H2-blocker. But after consuming only foods and beverages with a pH of 5 or greater for at least 2 weeks, 19 of those 20 participants saw improvement.
More research is needed, but the idea of a low-acid diet is intriguing. Additionally, eating low-acid foods may bring about other health benefits, ranging from decreased erosion of tooth enamel to a lower risk of bone fractures — a potential side effect of taking PPIs for heartburn.
So if your doctor suggests you try a low-acid lifestyle, here’s where to start. Read up on the low-acid diet staples that may bring GERD relief, along with some other health perks.
“Bananas are generally considered to be alkaline in nature and not acidic,” says Patrick Takahashi, MD, a gastroenterologist at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles. “They are a good source of fiber and vitamin B6, and help with maintaining potassium, which is good for your heart and bones in general.” Raw bananas are probably the best source of nutrients. You can eat them at any time, for a snack or with a meal. In some low-acid baking recipes, you can mash them up as a substitute for a fat component.
Skinless chicken makes a great low-acid diet staple. High in protein, a 4-ounce portion provides two-thirds of the recommended daily amount. While chicken is perfectly fine, deep-frying it in greasy oil will only trigger heartburn. Prepare it mindfully, with as few reflux-triggering spices as possible.
Another low-acid option, apples make a great source of fiber, too. “Fiber can help you stay full longer, which can minimize overeating during the day,” says Tara Harwood, MS, RD, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic's Digestive Disease Institute. “Fiber also helps with lowering cholesterol and preventing spikes in blood sugar.” Even the skins, which have polyphenols and flavonoids, can be good for you.
Fish is a nutritious component in any diet but an excellent source of protein in a low-acid diet. Salmon, for example, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit the heart, joints, and eyes. It may also protect against certain kinds of cancer. As with chicken, the most effective GERD recipes for fish will limit or exclude spices and heavy seasonings to avoid heartburn issues. And remember to skip the lemon. Its low pH makes it acidic.
Oatmeal is a great breakfast option for people sticking to a low-acid diet. High in filling fiber, oats can help improve cardiovascular health and stabilize blood sugar, among other benefits. When topping off a hot bowl of oatmeal with fruit, remember to avoid ones high in acid, like strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
Unlike other nuts such as pecans, cashews, and walnuts, almonds are generally alkaline. The monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids almonds contain can protect the heart and the high fiber content can keep you feeling full between meals. Almonds also contain Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, and the minerals manganese and magnesium. Use almonds in place of other nuts when preparing low-acid recipes.
Whole-Grain Brown Rice
Brown rice is a healthy choice whether or not you’re following a low-acid diet. It's high in fiber, which can help regulate the digestive tract, plus it’s heart-healthy and chock-full of B vitamins, which can help keep the body full of energy.