Do you feel miserable when the waiter asks you, “Would you like something to drink with your meal” and your answer is always – “Just plain water is fine”? For those who suffer from acid reflux, picking a GERD-friendly beverage or drink seems to be extra-tricky. Common beverages like coffee, alcohol, carbonates drinks, sodas and most citrus juices can all be acid-reflux triggers.
So what can you sip on safely without having to worry about heartburn later? You’re in luck today, because we have put together this simple guide on what to drink and what not to drink with acid reflux for you!
If you suffer from reflux, feel free to add these to your GERD-friendly diet.
Nothing beats water when it comes to one of the best drinks to soothe acid reflux. Studies have found that a glass of water immediately increases gastric pH, making it one of the best choices for those who suffer from chronic acid reflux. Think water is boring?? Try flavored water! Add a burst of flavor to simple water by infusing mint leaves and lime/lemon wedges in a jug of plain water. I also love adding cucumber and watermelon slices to a big jig of water for some extra refreshing taste in the summer.
Doctors recommend that switching from regular black tea (which may contain caffeine) to herbal teas can bring about relief from acid reflux symptoms. Chamomile tea is a natural remedy for a plethora of gastrointestinal disorders, according to studies. According to an Egyptian study conducted in 2015, an herbal concoction made with chamomile flower, bitter candy tuft, lemon balm leaf, caraway fruit, peppermint leaf, Angelica root, milk thistle fruit, licorice root and greater celandine herb can prevent gastric ulcers. Ginger tea and licorice tea are other excellent digestive aids.
While full-fat milk is high in saturated fats which are difficult to digest for GERD sufferers, low fat or skimmed milk is usually safe. If you are not lactose-intolerant and milk is not one of your reflux triggers, adding a cup of milk to your oatmeal or cereal will help add healthy calcium and proteins to your diet.
Want the perfect blended breakfast? Opt for fruit smoothies made with yogurt. Make sure that you choose non-citrus fruits like bananas, melon, cantaloupe and berries. To increase the health-quotient of your smoothie, add a bunch of spinach or kale and blend with the fruits and yogurt.
Are you lactose intolerant? Plant based milk, like almond milk are a good alternative. With its alkaline composition, almond milk can help neutralize stomach acid, making it an excellent choice for GERD sufferers. It’s also excellent in smoothies!
Want something cold and refreshing on a hot summer’s day? Ditch sodas in favor of coconut water! The alkaline nature of coconut water neutralizes the effects of excess stomach acid, and can bring instant relief from a bad bout of acid reflux. It has a cooling and soothing effect on the stomach which can bring relief from the burning sensation that accompanies heartburn. Furthermore, it’s rich in fiber, which aids digestion and prevents the reoccurrence of reflux.
Fermented milk products like buttermilk are one of the best natural probiotics available, so add this refreshing and healthy drink to your diet. It’s rich in lactic acid which neutralizes stomach acid and soothes the stomach lining as well.
Feel heartburn creeping up and wish you could slowly sip on something to soothe your stomach? Pour yourself a glass of Aloe Vera juice! This succulent has strong antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found that regularly drinking Aloe Vera juice can reduce the frequencies of GERD symptoms, with no adverse events requiring withdrawal.
While citrus juices are best avoided when you have GERD, try juicing watermelon, carrots or apple with fresh cabbage, spinach, beets and cucumbers for a refreshing drink that is chock full of vitamins and minerals too.
Now that we have discussed what is safe to drink when you have acid reflux, let’s take a quick look at some of the drinks that are best avoided if you have acid reflux.
Highly acidic in nature, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and tangerine are common GERD triggers. Avoid citrus juices if you suffer from acid reflux.
Caffeine relaxes the LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter, allowing stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus. Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, along with some sodas, which is why they are best avoided. Coffee also stimulates gastrin release and gastric acid secretion. In fact, research has found that decaffeinated coffee is safer for acid reflux sufferers.
Lots of athletes choose to rehydrate with sports drinks, which are also associated with heartburn. Gatorade and several other sports drinks contain citric acid, which can trigger heartburn. In fact, studies have found that runners who rehydrate with conventional sports drink as compared to water are more likely to suffer from severe reflux.
Chocolate is made with cocoa which is acidic in nature and encourages esophageal sphincter to relax, triggering acid reflux. This is why it’s best to avoid hot chocolate and chocolate milk shake if you suffer from chronic reflux which often contain both cocoa and caffeine.
Carbonated beverages are pumped with air (or bubbles) which expand the stomach upon ingestion. This exerts extra stress on the lower esophageal sphincter, triggering acid reflux. If you want something cold to sip on, choose flavored water or cold-pressed juices made from non-citrus fruits instead.
Alcohol relaxes the LES, allowing acid to creep up the esophagus, triggering acid reflux. If you have chronic acid reflux, it is best to avoid alcoholic drinks all together. However, if you have mild reflux, limit yourself to just one drink, but avoid cocktails that use sodas or citrus juices as a mixer.
In the end, we want to mention that it isn’t just enough to choose the right drinks that don’t trigger acid reflux; proper drinking practices are just as important. Avoid drinking anything late in the evening, particularly close to bedtime. When a large quantity of liquid sits undigested in your stomach during bedtime, there is an increased risk for night-time reflux attacks. Make sure to stay hydrated and drink a lot of liquids throughout the day. However, don’t gulp down a lot of fluids too quickly at any point of time, as this too exerts extra stress on the lower esophageal sphincter, triggering acid reflux. Sip on your drink slowly and enjoy the refreshing flavors!
Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/#R54
Mechanisms involved in the gastro-protective effect of STW 5 (Iberogast) and its components against ulcers and rebound acidity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16963243/
Efficacy and safety of Aloe vera syrup for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a pilot randomized positive-controlled trial – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26742306
A Glass of Water Immediately Increases Gastric pH in Healthy Subjects – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10620-008-0301-3
The effect of decaffeination of coffee on gastro-oesophageal reflux in patients with reflux disease – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2036.1997.00161.x/full
The effect of a sports drink on gastroesophageal reflux during a run-bike-run test – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10683102