How This Helps

The stomach contains concentrated hydrochloric acid (HCL), which helps digest the food easily. So, it's necessary to maintain an optimum acidic level in the stomach, especially in cases when you face a constant problem of acid reflux. Acid reflux is an irritating and painful condition that arises when the contents of your stomach enter into your esophagus. Consuming hot and spicy foods may increase the production of stomach acid and results in acid reflux. Acid reflux can cause you pain in the chest, which may seem hot and burning, followed by a bitter taste in the throat and a gassy bloating in the stomach.

Can you avoid acid reflux?

How can you avoid acid reflux?

To avoid acid reflux, one should try avoiding foods that can worsen the acid reflux condition. The most simple and effective procedure that can prevent acid reflux conditions is to follow certain dietary modifications, which may help relieve the symptoms of Acid reflux without the need for any medication or surgery.

See: Ayurveda treatment for GERD and Acidity

Acid reflux foods to avoid in diet

What are foods to avoid with acid reflux?

Several Research studies conducted preclinically as well as clinically have revealed that certain foods can aggravate GERD symptoms through activating specific mechanisms. These foods can either cause delayed stomach evacuation, or decrease the tension of the lower esophageal muscle, or may stimulate sensory receptors that cause an increase in gastric juice secretion. List of foods to avoid with acid reflux include foods that are high in fats, spicy foods, alliums, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, carbonated beverages, fruit juices, mint, alcohol, and citrus fruits are closely related to GERD symptoms.1,2. 

Some of the foods to avoid with acid reflux flare-ups are mentioned below, along with their mechanisms on how they may flare up acid reflux symptoms:

Peppermint - Peppermint tea can cause stomach related problems. It can provide a cooling effect and has long been used to alleviate stomach complaints. However, some research studies have shown that infusion made with peppermint leaves can decrease the pressure of lower esophageal sphincter and intensifies heartburn. Literature sources that have evaluated the role of peppermint oil have also suggested that peppermint oil has the potential to relax the smooth muscles of the digestive tract when they are not swallowing any food.1.

Fatty foods - Fatty products/dishes like fries, cheese, meat, shake when consumed takes time to get digested and remains in the stomach for a longer duration of time. The process of stomach evacuation can be delayed by fatty foods, which are known to decrease LES pressure. The lowered pressure contributes to Acid Reflux symptoms.

Sour or spicy foods- Sour products like juices, particularly citrus products, are acidic and can increase the acidity of the stomach. An enhanced acidic environment can provoke reflux symptoms like heartburn due to low stomach pH. Irritant alkaloids that are found abundantly in spicy foods/dishes like chili, black pepper, and other hot spices are also known to stimulate mechanoreceptors in the esophagus.

This stimulation may cause unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux. The condition can worsen if the esophagus has any inflammatory lesions on the mucous membrane.

Alcohol - Consuming alcohol is known to produce Acid reflux symptoms by acting on two different pathways in which it may directly affect the esophageal mucosa and cause relaxation of the sphincter valve. Consuming alcohol frequently can stimulate the production of acid in the stomach and promote symptoms of acid reflux like heartburn. Smoking, along with alcohol consumption, can cause a reduction in LES pressure.[5].

Smoking- Numerous clinical data has emphasized the adverse effects of smoking on reflux mechanisms. Therefore it is advisable to refrain from smoking in case you are suffering from chronic Acid reflux.5.

1. Smoking decreases the LES pressure, which promotes the contents of the stomach to rise into the esophagus causing acid reflux.

2. The intraesophageal region is known to promote a neutralizing effect on the acid present in that section. However, smoking inhibits this effect by inhibiting the secretion of salivary bicarbonate secretion.

Besides, it has also been found that smoking can lead to an increased risk for developing adenocarcinoma of the gastric cardia and the distal esophagus. 

Candy bars, chocolates - Sweet substances such as candy bars and chocolates have high osmolality and are higher in fat content, both of which have shown to provoke reflux by decreasing the LES pressure.

Late-night snacks – Eating stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, and in such conditions, avoid eating anything before you go to bed for at least 2 hours. Because eating food immediately after eating may provoke acid reflux symptoms. To prevent getting hungry late at night, you can try eating 4-5 smaller meals during the day instead of three large meals.[4].

Carbonated beverages – Common beverages like coffee, coke, citrus juice, lemon iced tea, are empty in calories and should be avoided as these beverages can stimulate the production of stomach acid. Also, the carbonated sugar present in these drinks when entering into the stomach increases the pressure and pain in the lower esophageal sphincter and thus aggravates acid reflux symptoms.

See: Functional medicine for GERD

Studies in foods to avoid for GERD

Study: Risk factors for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): the role of diet.[3].

The study was conducted with 513 subjects who previously experienced some severe symptoms of GERD that aggravated with a particular diet. The study aimed to determine the role of food and their possible risk factors that are associated with causing gastroesophageal reflux disease. 

The individuals that were included in the study reported their conditioned worsened by consuming fatty, fried, sour, or spicy food and sweets. The study also reported that individuals who ate 1–2 meals per day, as well as those who consumed peppermint tea daily, are on the potential risk for developing gastroesophageal reflux disease. The study concluded that patients with chronic acid reflux conditions should consider eating more than three meals a day at assigned times instead of consuming just one big meal in the evening. Whereas, peppermint tea aggravating the acid reflux symptoms and its role needs to be understood clearly through further studies.

See: Heartburn and Acid Reflux Remedies


There are some specific acid reflux foods to avoid, and one must take note of them. Many research studies have put-forth their suggestions on how consuming certain foods can aggravate the conditions, and avoiding them can make the situation better. Along with a controlled diet, one should also consider eating meals at regular time intervals. The frequency of eating also plays a significant role in aggravating disease symptoms. The products mentioned above, along with several lifestyle and dietary factors, are thought to be negatively associated with GERD. More research is needed, however, to investigate the efficacy of nutritional and lifestyle modifications on acid reflux and its symptoms.

See: How I and My Husband Followed Natural Therapies to Help with GERD



2. Choe, Jung & Joo, Moon & Kim, Hyo & Lee, Beom & Kim, ji hoon & Yeon, Jong & Park, Jong-Jae & Kim, Js & Byun, Kwan & Bak, Young-Tae. (2017). Foods Inducing Typical Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Symptoms in Korea. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility. 23. 10.5056/jnm16122. 

3. Jarosz, Mirosław & Taraszewska, Anna. (2014). Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease: The role of diet. Gastroenterology Review. 9. 297-301. 10.5114/pg.2014.46166. 

4. Meining, A., & Classen, M. (2000). The role of diet and lifestyle measures in the pathogenesis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 95(10), 2692–2697. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.03175.x 

5. Kang, J.H.-E & Kang, J.Y.. (2015). Lifestyle measures in the management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: clinical and pathophysiological considerations. Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease. 6. 10.1177/2040622315569501. 


See: GERD diet plan to prevent heartburn

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