You may spend mealtime avoiding certain foods and drinks if you suffer from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a condition where stomach acid leaks back into the esophagus. Symptoms can include coughing, nausea, hoarseness, belching, sore throat, and regurgitation.
It’s an unpleasant condition, but there’s help. A little bit of avoidance can provide a lot of relief, as GERD symptoms are affected by what you choose to eat.
Beverages such as coffee, colas, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and tomato and citrus juices often top the list of “don’ts.” Some research suggests that these beverages increase risk for GERD symptoms.
So what drinks are best for acid reflux patients? This information can be harder to find. Keep reading for some of the top GERD-friendly drink recommendations.
Herbal teas are a good choice for acid reflux because they can improve digestion and soothe many stomach problems, such as gas and nausea. According to the American Dietetic Association, it’s OK to drink any caffeine-free herbal tea for acid reflux — except those with spearmint or peppermint.
In his book “The Acid Reflux Solution,” gastroenterologist Jorge Rodriguez suggests that dried ginger and dried fennel can speed up the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine.
The Mayo Clinic suggests chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow as herbal remedies to soothe GERD symptoms.
Harvard Medical School reports that licorice has been proven effective against GERD in several studies. It’s been found to increase the mucus coating of the esophageal lining, which helps calm the effects of stomach acid. However, there is insufficient evidence to confirm the effectiveness of fennel, marshmallow root, and papaya tea.
When using dried herbs as extracts in tea, you should use one teaspoon of herb per cup of hot water, says the National Gardening Association. Steep leaves or flowers covered for five to 10 minutes. Steep roots 10 to 20 minutes. For best results, drink two to four cups per day.
Be aware that some herbs can interfere with certain prescription medications, so talk to your doctor before trying an herbal remedy.
Because regular cow’s milk contains a considerable amount of fat and is hard to digest, Rodriguez recommends drinking goat’s milk products instead. Like all high-fat foods, full-fat cow’s milk may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause or worsen reflux symptoms.
Opt for the lowest-fat options possible if you have to go with cow’s milk products. The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois includes skim milk as part of its recommended GERD diet.
Citrus drinks such as orange, tangerine, grapefruit, and pineapple juice are very acidic and may cause acid reflux. Other types of juices — such as apple, carrot, aloe vera, and cabbage juice — are less acidic and thus less likely to trigger GERD symptoms in most people. Because tomato-based foods can trigger reflux symptoms, avoiding tomato juice may also reduce GERD.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions make the most sense. Tufts Medical Center recommends drinking eight glasses of water per day to help reduce GERD symptoms. Some doctors also recommend alkaline water to reduce stomach acidity and control acid reflux.
As with eating, when and how you drink beverages can make a difference in GERD symptoms.
The following tips can help keep symptoms at bay:
- Avoid skipping breakfast or lunch, which can lead to overeating (and overdrinking) late in the day.
- Give up late-night snacks — including beverages that may cause heartburn (carbonated and caffeinated drinks).
- Maintain an upright posture during and after eating and drinking. Don’t eat for at least three hours before bedtime.
- Moderate alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can cause reflux symptoms in some people.
- Reduce or eliminate spicy foods and fried foods
By practicing healthy drinking habits as a part of your overall plan for managing GERD, and taking note of how your individual symptoms respond to specific foods and drinks, you can reduce your reflux symptoms and improve your quality of life.