If you’ve experienced heartburn, you know that it can be a painful experience.
Heartburn is a burning sensation that you feel in the chest. It occurs when stomach acid travels up the esophagus, a process known as reflux (
Reflux can cause foods to regurgitate, increase inflammation over time, and interfere with swallowing. A more serious form of heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (
Oftentimes, symptoms can be managed through modifying your diet and lifestyle. Acidic foods are a common heartburn trigger and are found in many fruits and juices, so sometimes it’s helpful to avoid them.
That begs the question: what types of juices can you enjoy if you experience heartburn? Today, we’ll dive specifically into pomegranate juice and its effects on heartburn, plus some tips for reducing reflux.
Pomegranate juice is made from extracting the liquid portion of a pomegranate fruit via juicing. Hence, water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C remain in the final product.
However, pomegranate juice lacks fiber, since the seeds and flesh are discarded.
Pomegranate juice is quite high in acid, with the total acidity being 1.1 grams of acid present in 100cm3 of juice (about 3.4 ounces, or just under half a serving) (
Its predominant forms are citric and L-malic acids, with the former being several times higher in acidity (
Acidic foods, including acidic juices like pomegranate juice, may trigger heartburn for some folks who live with this condition. This is because the acidity may directly irritate the thin skin that covers the esophagus (
Here’s a possible explanation: Since we know that increasing fiber intake can help reduce reflux, it may be that by removing fiber from the pomegranate, the effect of acidity on reflux increases without that protective buffer (
Keep in mind that pomegranate juice may not trigger reflux in everyone. Acidic beverages and reflux have mixed research — some studies have found a positive correlation, while others found an inverse relationship (
Also remember that acidic fruits are not inherently harmful for your health. Despite the popular “alkaline diet,” avoiding acidic fruits like pomegranate won’t change your body’s pH level, which is tightly regulated.
Pomegranate juice is highly acidic. Although acidic foods and beverages aren’t inherently harmful, they may trigger heartburn and reflux in some people. Acidic juice may be particularly likely to trigger these conditions since it has no fiber.
There are many reasons why someone may develop reflux. Risk factors include (
- caffeine and alcohol
- certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers
- hiatal hernia
- increased esophageal exposure to acid
Reflux is often accompanied by other digestive symptoms, like indigestion, upper stomach pain, nausea, bloating, and belching (
Dietary triggers can increase risk of reflux, and acidic juices like pomegranate juice are very common ones. This is because the acidity may directly irritate the thin skin that covers the esophagus (
This may be confusing, since eating whole fruits and vegetables is associated with lowered reflux occurrences, regardless of whether they are acidic or not (
But as with many things relating to digestion, pomegranate juice is just one piece of the puzzle. Other factors that may affect reflux include macronutrient distribution, meal timing, and meal volume (
Here are 14 ways to prevent heartburn and acid reflux, taking these myriad factors into consideration.
One dietary trigger is just one piece of the puzzle behind heartburn and reflux. There are other factors and foods that may contribute to your symptoms.
If you experience reflux and are looking for alternative fruit juices, choose ones that are lower in acidity.
According to Clemson University, lower acidity fruits include melons, papayas, mangoes, cherries, pears, and figs. These could be good alternative juice options if you’re trying to manage reflux and heartburn (6).
As a general guideline, vegetables contain less acid than fruits. If you’d like, opting for green juices made with spinach, carrots, cucumbers, and celery is also an excellent option.
Consider choosing lower acidity juices to reduce reflux, such as papaya juice, mango juice, or vegetable-based juices.
It’s important to listen to your body and find your own level of tolerance for acidic foods and beverages.
If you enjoy pomegranate juice, try these tips to reduce risk for reflux:
- Enjoy pomegranate juice with meals. Consuming acidic juices or other dietary triggers on an empty stomach may worsen symptoms (
- Enjoy pomegranate juice flat rather than mixed with carbonated (sparkling) water for a “spritzer” drink, as carbonated beverages can trigger reflux (
- Try diluting pomegranate juice with water to reduce its concentration and therefore the amount of acid you’re drinking.
Here are some other ways to reduce risk of reflux (
- Try walking after meals and avoid lying down.
- Try to wait 3 hours after eating to sleep.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing, especially around the waist.
- Be mindful of reducing other common dietary triggers like caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, high fat meals, chocolate, and mint.
- Practice stress management and healthy sleep hygiene.
- Try elevating your head 6-8 inches when sleeping.
- Consider vitamins and supplements.
To reduce your risk of reflux, enjoy pomegranate juice mindfully and with meals. As well, be careful with other dietary triggers like coffee, spicy foods, and alcohol, and adjust your lifestyle as needed.
Pomegranate juice is a refreshing beverage that is rich in vitamin C. However, it can trigger reflux and heartburn due to its high acidity content and low fiber content.
With that being said, reflux and heartburn triggers aren’t one-size-fits-all. While some people may be highly sensitive to acidic juices like pomegranate juice, others may not.
If you enjoy the taste of pomegranate juice, you can try drinking it in mindful portions along with a meal. Listen to your body and find the portion and lifestyle that works best for you.
If you’d like, you can also try lower-acidity alternatives like mango juice, papaya juice, and vegetable juice, which may be less likely to trigger reflux and heartburn.
Just one thing
Try this today: Curious to learn more about the pros and cons of juice? Check out our article about the benefits and downsides of juicing. And remember that while drinking juice as part of your healthy diet can be delicious and nutritious, there’s no need to attempt a juice “cleanse.”