Avoiding beverages that trigger acid reflux is the best way to manage symptoms. That said, nonacidic beverages like plant-based milk, water, and herbal tea may also help reduce symptoms.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to travel into the esophagus. This may result in uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn and acid regurgitation.
If you have acid reflux or GERD, certain foods and beverages can make your symptoms worse.
The terms “acid reflux” and “GERD” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Acid reflux refers to symptoms that occur occasionally, while GERD is defined as the chronic reoccurrence of acid reflux.
This can happen if you have a weakened or dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter that allows stomach acid to flow backward into the esophagus. Over time, untreated GERD can cause inflammation or damage to the esophagus.
Certain drinks may not cause acid reflux symptoms, while others may help relieve symptoms you’re experiencing.
In addition to following the beverage suggestions below, try sipping liquids instead of drinking them quickly. This can help prevent acid reflux symptoms. According to a
Beverages such as coffee, soda, and acidic juices may increase the risk or severity of reflux symptoms. So what should you drink instead? There are many options that likely will not trigger your reflux and may even help reduce symptoms.
Try using herbal remedies that may soothe GERD symptoms, such as:
Licorice can help increase the mucus coating of the esophageal lining, which may help reduce the effects of backflowing stomach acid. A 2017 study found that an herbal formula including deglycyrrhizinated licorice provided relief from GERD symptoms consistently better than common antacids.
Ginger tea has anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve nausea, according to
Still, there is room for more research to confirm the effectiveness of herbal teas, including fennel, marshmallow root, and papaya tea.
When using dried herbs as extracts in tea, it’s recommended to use 1 teaspoon of herbs per 1 cup of hot water. Steep the leaves or flowers covered for 5–10 minutes. If you’re using roots, steep for 10–20 minutes. For the best results, you can drink 2–4 cups per day.
However, you may want to avoid peppermint teas, as mint may trigger acid reflux symptoms in some people.
Additionally, some herbs can interfere with certain prescription medications, so consider talking with a doctor before trying any new herbal remedies.
Low fat or skim milk
Cow’s milk can be hard for some people to digest. Whole milk can contain a significant amount of fat. Consuming full fat cow’s milk and other high fat foods may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause or worsen reflux symptoms, according to
The same research found that fats may also reduce gastric motility, which may keep high fat foods in your stomach longer.
If you include cow’s milk products in your diet, consider choosing an option with lower fat content.
For people with lactose intolerance or those who experience an increase in acid reflux symptoms from consuming dairy products, plant-based milk might be a good alternative. A variety of products are available, including:
- soy milk
- flax milk
- cashew milk
- coconut milk
- oat milk
- almond milk
Soy milk and other plant-based milk typically have a lower fat content than most dairy products, making them a safer choice for people with GERD.
You may want to avoid products with this additive if you have GERD.
Citrus drinks and other beverages like pineapple juice and apple juice can be very acidic and may cause acid reflux symptoms. Juices that are less acidic are not as likely to trigger GERD symptoms.
Juices with lower acidity include:
- carrot juice
- aloe vera juice
- cabbage juice
- freshly juiced drinks made with less acidic foods, such as beets, watermelon, spinach, cucumber, or pear
Smoothies are a popular way to incorporate more vitamins and minerals into your diet. They’re also tasty options for people with GERD.
When making a smoothie, try including the same low acidity fruits that make up reflux-friendly juices, such as pear or watermelon. Also, try adding green vegetables like spinach or kale for added nutrients and reflux-reducing benefits.
Try putting your own spin on this simple smoothie recipe that incorporates spinach and plant-based milk. You might even consider freezing cut-up avocados to use when making nutritious smoothies in a pinch.
The pH of most water is neutral, or 7.0, which can mildly raise the stomach’s pH. However, water can also help the digestion and motility of food from your stomach to your small intestine. This may help reduce acid reflux symptoms.
Although uncommon, too much water can disrupt the mineral balance in your body, which could increase the likelihood of acid reflux. A doctor or registered dietitian can help you navigate your hydration needs if you have any concerns.
Unsweetened coconut water can be another excellent option for people with acid reflux or GERD. This beverage is a good source of helpful electrolytes, such as potassium. It also promotes pH balance within the body, which is crucial for managing acid reflux.
Some drinks can aggravate reflux symptoms and should be avoided. Examples include certain fruit juices, caffeinated beverages, and carbonated beverages.
Citrus juices and tomatoes are highly acidic and can aggravate acid reflux.
Examples of juices to avoid for GERD can include:
- lemon juice
- orange juice
- tangerine juice
- lime juice
- grapefruit juice
- tomato juice
Citric acid, naturally present in citrus fruits, has been known to irritate the esophagus. While the stomach is made to withstand higher acidity foods, the esophagus is not. If you have acid reflux, foods with citric acid may reenter the esophagus and irritate it or cause damage.
When buying juice drinks, check for citric acid in the listed ingredients, as it’s sometimes used as flavoring. It may be best to avoid products made with citric acid to reduce the likelihood of reflux symptoms.
A morning cup of coffee is a daily habit for many, but it may cause symptoms in those with acid reflux. Coffee can stimulate increased gastric acid secretions, making it more likely to rise to your esophagus. This results in heightened acid reflux symptoms.
The more coffee you drink, the more aggravated your symptoms can become. Other caffeinated beverages, such as sodas or caffeinated teas, can have similar effects.
A 2020 study confirmed that the intake of these caffeinated drinks was linked to an increase in reflux symptoms when compared with other beverages.
Alcohol can negatively affect acid reflux, regardless of its type. Hard liquor is more likely to aggravate reflux conditions quickly, though a glass of wine with a large or acidic meal can cause discomfort, too.
Heavy alcohol consumption may be a risk factor for developing GERD, and it could cause mucosal damage in the stomach and esophagus.
Research from 2019 found a significant correlation between alcohol intake and the risk of GERD.
If you have acid reflux, it may be best to avoid alcohol consumption. However, if you plan to drink, there are a few things that may reduce symptoms. These include:
- drinking in moderation
- staying hydrated
- avoiding acidic or carbonated drinks
Some people who have never experienced acid reflux may develop acid reflux or heartburn symptoms during pregnancy. Many people also have decreased or no symptoms after the pregnancy is over.
Keeping a food diary to help monitor which foods aggravate your symptoms can help you avoid known trigger foods for the duration of your pregnancy.
If your GERD or acid reflux has not responded to dietary changes, other remedies and medications may offer relief.
It may be best to contact a doctor for acid reflux, especially if it’s recurring. They can prescribe a treatment plan that fits your symptoms and test for any related issues.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for acid reflux can include:
- temporary use of OTC antacids, such as calcium carbonate (Tums)
- proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- H2 receptor blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid AC)
- deglycyrrhizinated licorice
Prescription medications for acid reflux can include:
- prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors
- prescription-strength H2 receptor blockers
In extreme cases, surgery may be an option. Surgical intervention can help reinforce or strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. A doctor can help you navigate decisions and choose the right path of care for your individual needs.
Here are some common questions about acid reflux.
What is the fastest way to stop acid reflux?
OTC and prescription medications, such as antacids, may help quickly relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
Does drinking water help acid reflux?
Sipping water slowly may help food in your stomach move on to your small intestine, which may relieve acid reflux symptoms.
What foods help acid reflux go away immediately?
While there isn’t a specific food that can get rid of acid reflux immediately, dissolving baking soda in water and drinking it or taking an OTC antacid like Tums may help.
What foods neutralize stomach acid?
No foods neutralize stomach acid. However, whole grains may help absorb acid and reduce symptoms. OTC antacids like Tums can help neutralize stomach acid to help relieve symptoms.
Like with the foods you eat, it’s important to be mindful of when and how you drink beverages while trying to avoid or reduce 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.
- Avoid late-night snacks or beverages that may cause heartburn at bedtime. This includes carbonated and caffeinated drinks.
- Maintain an upright position during and after eating or drinking. You may need to avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Moderate your alcohol consumption if you drink, as drinking alcohol can cause reflux symptoms in some people.
- Reduce or eliminate spicy and fried foods.
- Elevate the head of your bed so that gravity can help prevent acid from creeping into your esophagus while you sleep.
- Sip beverages slowly.
Many people live with acid reflux, but it’s important to note that everyone responds differently to diet changes.
It might take some trial and error to find what works for you, but by practicing healthy drinking habits and taking note of how your system responds to specific foods and drinks, you can reduce your reflux symptoms and improve your quality of life.