Peanut butter and acid reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus. Common symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn) and a sour taste at the back of the mouth.

Your diet can have a big impact on your acid reflux symptoms. Just as people experience acid reflux at different levels, food triggers can vary between people.

Peanut butter generally isn’t considered to trigger acid reflux, but it may affect some people differently. Although peanut butter has several health benefits, it’s also a high-fat food. These foods can increase acid reflux symptoms.

What are the benefits of peanut butter?

Benefits

  1. Peanut butter is a heart-healthy food.
  2. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals.
  3. It’s also high in fiber, which promotes good digestion.

Peanut butter is high in unsaturated fats, but it’s important to understand that these are “healthy” fats. Unsaturated fats help lower your cholesterol levels. This can reduce your risk for heart disease.

Peanut butter is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. For example, it contains the essential mineral manganese. This mineral helps activate enzymes designed to remove toxins from the body. It also breaks down nutrients for your body to absorb and helps with tissue growth.

Peanut butter is also rich in fiber and protein. Fiber promotes digestive health, while protein helps build and repair muscle tissue.

What the research says

Although the relationship between acid reflux and diet has been studied extensively, there isn’t a lot of research available on specific foods. This includes peanut butter. It isn’t clear whether eating peanut butter will have an effect on your symptoms.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center lists peanut butter as a good option for people with acid reflux. You should choose unsweetened, natural peanut butter when possible.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center specifies that smooth peanut butter is best. You should avoid chunky peanut butter, as it’s more likely to cause symptoms of acid reflux.

Smooth peanut butter is often a part of esophageal soft diets. Your doctor may recommend this diet if you have esophagitis, or inflammation of the esophagus. Acid reflux is often a symptom of esophagitis.

Risks and warnings

Some believe that peanut butter can make acid reflux worse. You should talk with your doctor about whether peanut butter is the best option for your diet. It’s usually best to start with a small amount of peanut butter and work your way up to a standard serving size. A typical serving is about two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Recent research links discomfort in the esophagus to allergies. The study discusses the potential connection between eosinophilic esophagitis and food allergens. The condition creates esophageal dysfunction.

This can be reduced by a six-food elimination diet. Approximately 70 percent of adults with this condition experienced remission by avoiding several food items, such as peanuts. Other items included:

  • milk
  • wheat
  • egg
  • soy
  • tree nuts
  • fish, especially shellfish

Using a diet-based plan to treat acid reflux may reduce or relieve your symptoms.

Treatment for acid reflux

If your acid reflux is infrequent, you may be able to let it pass without intervention. Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, can also treat mild discomfort. You shouldn’t take antacids for more than two weeks. If your symptoms persist, make an appointment with your doctor.

More serious cases of acid reflux can be treated with both OTC and prescription medications. This includes H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors. These typically provide longer-lasting relief than antacids.

In severe cases, you may need to have surgery to repair the lower esophageal sphincter.

You can also make lifestyle changes to reduce or relieve your symptoms. Losing weight, exercising, and eating smaller meals with fewer trigger foods may lessen the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

What you can do now

Opinions are mixed on whether peanut butter can have a negative effect on acid reflux. If you want to add peanut butter to your diet, you should:

  • Slowly incorporate it into your meal plan.
  • Stick to small amounts of peanut butter at first.
  • Take note of any other foods in your diet that trigger acid reflux.

If your symptoms persist, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Together you can determine the best diet and treatment plan for you.

Keep reading: Acid reflux diet and nutrition guide »