Apples and acid reflux
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but does it keep acid reflux away, too? Apples are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It’s thought that these alkalizing minerals may help relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid rises into the esophagus. Some say that eating an apple after a meal or before bedtime may help neutralize this acid by creating an alkaline environment in the stomach. Sweet apples are thought to work better than sour varieties.
What are the benefits of eating apples?
- Pectin, which is found in apples, reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Apples also contain antioxidants that can reduce your risk of cancer.
- The ursolic acid found in apple skins may assist with fat loss and increased muscle growth.
Apples contain large amounts of a soluble fiber known as pectin. Pectin may prevent a type of cholesterol from accumulating in the arterial walls. This can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Pectin may also:
- help remove harmful toxins from the body
- shrink or prevent gallstones
- delay the absorption of glucose in people with diabetes
Antioxidant flavonoids found in apples can limit or prevent oxidation caused by free radicals. This can prevent future cell damage from occurring.
Apples also contain polyphenols, which are antioxidant biochemicals. Polyphenols have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
The ursolic acid found in apple skins is also known for its healing properties. It’s said to have a role in fat loss and muscle sparing. Ursolic acid hasn’t been studied in humans yet, though animal studies are promising.
What the research says
Although many people report success in treating acid reflux with apples, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support these claims. Most people can eat red apples without experiencing any side effects, so there’s no harm in adding them to your daily diet. A typical serving size is one medium apple or about one cup of chopped apples.
Risks and warnings
- Green apples are more acidic. This may cause an increase in your acid reflux symptoms.
- Conventional apple skins may carry trace amounts of pesticides.
- Apple products, such as applesauce or apple juice, won’t have the same alkalizing effects as fresh apples.
Although apples are generally safe to eat, certain types of apples may trigger symptoms in people with acid reflux. Red apples generally don’t cause an increase in symptoms. Green apples are more acidic, which can have a negative impact for some.
Pesticide residue may be present on conventional apple skins. Eating an apple skin with minimal residue shouldn’t cause any adverse side effects. If you’re trying to reduce your exposure to pesticides, you should purchase organic apples.
Fresh apples are recommended over processed forms, such as juice, applesauce, or other apple products. Fresh apples generally have a higher fiber content, more antioxidants, and have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels.
Other acid reflux treatments
Many cases of acid reflux can be treated with lifestyle changes. This includes:
- avoiding foods that trigger heartburn
- wearing looser clothing
- losing weight
- elevating the head of your bed
- eating smaller meals
- not lying down after you eat
If lifestyle changes aren’t doing the trick, you may want to try an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. This includes:
- antacids, such as Maalox and Tums
- H2 receptor blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac)
- proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec)
Despite their effectiveness at treating heartburn, PPIs have received a bad rap. They are blamed for side effects such as fractures and magnesium deficiency. They are also thought to increase your risk of developing diarrhea caused from Clostridium difficile bacteria.
If OTC remedies don’t bring relief within a few weeks, you should call your doctor. They may prescribe prescription-strength H2 receptor blockers or PPIs.
If prescription drugs don’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery to reinforce your lower esophagus. This is usually only done as a last resort after all other options have been tried.
What you can do now
Although OTC and prescription medications may relieve your symptoms, they also have the potential for negative side effects. As a result, many people are looking to natural remedies to treat their acid reflux.
If you believe apples may help you, give them a try. Even if the apples don’t relieve your symptoms, they still contribute to a healthy diet. Remember to:
- choose organic, if possible, to reduce pesticide exposure
- peel the skins off of conventional apples to remove trace pesticides
- avoid green apples, because they’re more acidic
You should speak with your doctor if your symptoms persist. Together, you can develop a treatment plan that works best for you.