You may spend mealtime avoiding certain foods and drinks if you suffer from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). An ounce of avoidance can often be worth a pound of cure, as GERD symptoms are affected by what you choose to consume.
Beverages such as coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and tomato and citrus juices often top the list of “don’ts.” Some research has suggested that these beverages increase risk for GERD symptoms.
What drinks are best for acid reflux patients? This information can be harder to find. Below are some of the top GERD-friendly drink recommendations:
Research on the effects that caffeinated tea has on GERD has been divided. Several types of herbal teas have been identified as digestion aids. Although there still isn’t consensus on the most beneficial types, any herbal tea is safe to drink.
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. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) notes that some preliminary evidence suggests cranberry extract may inhibit the growth of H. pylori, a bacterium found in the inner lining of the stomach.
Harvard Medical School reports that licorice has proven effective 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, Harvard notes that there is insufficient evidence to confirm the effectiveness of fennel, marshmallow root, and papaya tea.
UMMC suggests that when using dried herbs as extracts in tea, you should use one teaspoon of herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered for five to 10 minutes for leaves or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. For best results, drink two to four cups per day.
Be aware that some herbs can interfere with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before trying an herbal remedy.
Goat’s Milk or Skim Milk
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 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. The UMMC notes that the protein contained in low-fat or skim dairy products may help strengthen muscles in the esophagus, which can help limit reflux symptoms.
Citrus drinks such as orange, tangerine, grapefruit, and pineapple juice are very acidic and can cause reflux action. Other types of juices—such as apple, carrot, aloe vera, and cabbage juice—are less acidic and may cause fewer GERD symptoms in some people. Even raw potato may prove helpful in the treatment of heartburn symptoms, according to Harvard Medical School. However, tomato juice increases gastric acid secretion, so you should avoid it if you don’t tolerate it.
Sometimes the simplest solutions make the most sense. The UMMC recommends drinking six to eight glasses of filtered water per day to help reduce GERD symptoms. Some doctors also recommend alkaline water to reduce stomach acidity and control acid reflux.
Drinking Best Practices
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.
- Maintain an upright posture during and after eating and drinking.
- Moderate alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can cause reflux symptoms in some people.
By practicing healthy drinking habits as a part of your overall plan for managing GERD, you can reduce your reflux symptoms and improve your quality of life.