Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. This uncomfortable and even painful event can occur in conjunction with various other gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating and nausea. Avoiding foods that could trigger acid reflux can minimize painful instances of heartburn.


Cocoa triggers a rise in hormones that make us happy, but it also tends to make our muscles relax excessively, increasing the possibility of acid and food residue backing up into the digestive system. Minimizing your intake of chocolate, especially when you are experiencing frequent acid reflux or consuming other triggering foods, can help decrease the intensity of your symptoms.


Carbonated Drinks

Most carbonated drinks are acidic. Adding this mixture to the already acidic environment of the stomach increases the likelihood of acid reflux. Gaseous bubbles cause the digestive system to expand, furthering discomfort and pain. Eliminating carbonated beverages including club soda can help reduce these symptoms.



Garlic's pungent flavor and aroma make this bulb a popular addition to many recipes. Despite its popularity, many people report acid reflux right after consuming garlic. Unfortunately, the food is highly irritating for some people, and eating it can wreak havoc on the stomach, increasing acid product and relaxing the esophageal sphincter, causing reflux. Garlic can even slightly burn the esophagus. Eliminating garlic from your diet for a week or more can help you determine whether it is a factor in your condition.


Fried Food

Fried food is one of the top offenders when it comes to acid reflux. Because these foods are high in fat, they overwork the digestive system, increasing stomach acid as well as pain and discomfort. Air fryers are a popular alternative, creating the crispy outer layer many of us crave with minimal added fat.



Doctors typically recommend patients experiencing acid reflux reduce their alcohol consumption. Even a slight amount of alcohol can irritate the stomach and esophageal lining and increase burning sensations for some people who regularly experience reflux. Alcohol may also interfere with the digestive process, causing other digestion issues.


Dairy Products

Dairy products can cause acid reflux, but this effect seems to mostly apply to full-fat options -- many people can handle low-fat or no-fat products without issue. High amounts of fat can exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux.


High-Fat Meats

Because fat is a leading cause of acid reflux, many delicious foods can be taken off the menu when a person develops acid reflux. Meat such as pork, beef, and lamb are high in potentially problematic fats, and reducing these foods can help ease symptoms. Choose lean meats with little or no marbling, and use fat-free preparation methods such as roasting or baking. Chicken and turkey are naturally low in fat.



Coffee has become a part of many peoples' routines, but for those with acid reflux, caffeine can be one of the worse trigger foods because of its irritating effect on the stomach and esophagus. The acidic ingredient increases the likelihood of acid reflux. Though tea has less caffeine, it may still exacerbate symptoms, depending on an individual's sensitivity.



Peppermint is known for its relaxing qualities and is a common ingredient in gum, herbal tea, and other products, but its consumption can trigger acid reflux in some people. Because peppermint relaxes the muscles of the sphincter dividing the stomach from the esophagus, it can cause acid reflux.


Fast Food

Not surprisingly, fast food is high in fat and is a common acid reflux trigger. The stomach must work overtime to digest fatty foods like cheeseburgers and French fries, and this requires an excess of acid that can make its way into the esophagus and cause the heartburn and other symptoms associated with acid reflux.


Tomatoes and Citrus

Tomatoes and citrus brighten up meals and beverages, but they can wreak havoc when it comes to acid reflux. Malic and citric acids can prompt the body to produce an excess of gastric acid, which can back up into the esophagus and trigger acid reflux.

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Some studies link diets higher in salt with worsening of acid reflux symptoms. The exact mechanism by which salt triggers reflux symptoms is unknown. Read food labels to remain aware of salt intake, and try to flavor dishes with herbs instead.

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Risk Factors

People with diabetes often develop gastroparesis, where the stomach empties into the intestines. They may also have a swallowing disorder due to irregular esophageal muscle contractions that do not efficiently move food from the mouth to the stomach. Research shows that people with obesity face a higher risk of developing this condition; excess fat puts pressure on the stomach, leading to backflow or acid leakage.



Some of the best ways to prevent acid reflux involve making a few lifestyle changes. Eating smaller portions more frequently and consuming fewer fatty foods or whole-milk products can help control stomach acid. After meals, avoid lying down for at least an hour and don't eat for three hours before going to bed. Wear looser clothes — pants that are too tight around the abdominal area can push stomach acid up the esophagus. Losing weight in a healthy way should also curb acid reflux.


When to See a Doctor

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a more serious manifestation of chronic acid reflux and requires medical intervention. Heartburn every so often is normal, but if it gets worse at night or is accompanied by chest, jaw, or arm pain, see a doctor immediately. Likewise, medical attention should be sought if nighttime reflux becomes so frequent that it disrupts sleep or if one develops an excessive cough, problems swallowing, loss of weight, or voice loss. Acid reflux that occurs more than once per week also needs medical attention.


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