Acid reflux goes by a few names, including heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux. Whatever you call it, the process is extremely unpleasant. While some foods and drinks will increase your risk of acid reflux, there are also many drinks for acid reflux that can decrease the symptoms or prevent acid reflux from occurring at all.
But first, what is acid reflux?
The problem is linked to a weak valve between the esophagus and the stomach. This allows some stomach acid to enter the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.
What you choose to eat can strongly influence your acid reflux symptoms. For example, alcohol tends to relax the valve in question, increasing the chance of acid reflux. The bubbles from soda create pressure and can increase reflux too, while caffeine can also aggravate your system.
The best approach is to focus on mild drinks that are still and caffeine free, like the ones on this list. Some may even calm acid reflux down if you’re experiencing it.
Drinks for Acid Reflux (With Pictures!)
Ginger is well-known as a way to settle your stomach. But, don’t turn to ginger ale or ginger beer, as are both likely to make your symptoms worse.
Ginger tea is a safer bet, as you’re getting the beneficial compounds from ginger, without anything that could trigger acid reflux. Ginger tea tends to be naturally soothing anyway, which is a bonus.
There are many different ginger teas out there, although you will need to shop carefully. Make sure that you end up with something that is caffeine free. While ginger doesn’t contain caffeine, some brands of ginger tea may use black tea leaves as well, which do have some caffeine in them.
You can also make your own ginger tea by relying on ginger root. This allows you to control the amount of ginger in your final drink. Honey acts as a perfect sweetener for ginger tea and is often thought to be healthier than plain sugar.
Kefir is a fermented drink that is a little bit like a slightly fizzy drinkable yogurt. It often has a slight tanginess, which can be stronger if the drink hasn’t been sweetened first.
The probiotics in kefir are an important reason for choosing this drink. Probiotics are a way to improve the bacteria in your gut, creating a better balance of healthy microbes. This can be critical for anyone whose gut bacteria is compromised in some way, such as if you have been taking antibiotics for an infection.
Because acid reflux is linked to your gut, taking probiotics regularly could help to decrease acid reflux symptoms.
While any source of probiotics should be helpful for reflux, kefir stands out because it is a dairy product. Plain dairy products are sometimes recommended to decrease acid reflux, as they can help to soothe the stomach. Kefir is a way to get dairy and probiotics at the same time.
Kefir does have a slight fizziness, which would normally be a bad thing for acid reflux. However, the fizziness is much less than you find with soda, so kefir shouldn’t aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
Speaking of dairy, milk can also help to improve acid reflux. Milk isn’t a probiotic, so it doesn’t have all the benefits that kefir offers. Still, milk tends to be cheaper than kefir and easier to find.
This is one time where it’s important to choose low fat milk, as fatty foods and drinks are more likely to cause acid reflux than low fat versions.
You’ll also need to be a little careful with kefir and milk. Despite the benefits of dairy, many people can’t digest dairy products well. If you’re even slightly sensitive to dairy or to lactose, you may get more negative effects from milk and kefir than positive ones.
If you’re sensitive to dairy, then plant based milk may be a better choice for acid reflux. While any type of plant based milk could do the trick, almond milk is the most recommended choice.
Almond milk is notable because it is alkaline. This may help to neutralize your acid reflux and calm symptoms down faster.
While almond milk is made from almonds, it isn’t a rich source of nutrients like almonds themselves are. In fact, commercial almond milk tends to be mostly water. This isn’t a bad thing for acid reflux, although you can get a better nutrient balance if you make almond milk at home yourself.
Soy milk stands out for two reasons. First, it is one of the most common plant-based milks, so there are many products and styles to choose from. You can often find fortified versions of the milk, such as ones that have extra protein added or nutrients like calcium.
The second advantage is that soy milk tends to be low in fat, lower than other types of plant-based milk. This can be important for some people, as high fat foods and drinks may trigger acid reflux.
Other Plant Based Milks
Almond milk and soy milk are good go-to choices for plant based milk. Still, they’re far from your only choices. There are many other options to choose from, including cashew milk, rice milk, oat milk, and coconut milk. You may need to experiment to find one that you like that works well with your reflux symptoms.
Coconut milk is one to be aware of. It does tend to be soothing and alkaline, but coconut milk is often high in fat. This could be a problem for acid reflux symptoms.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the products that you choose. Some plant-based milks use additives, like carrageenan that some people are sensitive to.
Licorice Root Tea
Most herbal teas are helpful for acid reflux. Licorice root is one of the best, as it helps to increase the mucus coating in your esophagus, which helps to protect your stomach lining and tone down the effects of stomach acid.
Just be aware that licorice root is a mild laxative. This could be a slight problem if you plan to drink the tea late at night or if you’re sensitive to laxative effects.
It’s also important to be a little careful about how often you drink the tea. Some reports suggest that too much licorice root may have negative health effects. For that matter, it’s generally best to rely on a variety of herbal teas, rather than drinking a single type.
Chamomile tea is another herbal tea option. The tea is most well-known for its calming effects, which is why many people drink it as a sleep aid. The calming nature of chamomile could be highly relevant for acid reflux, as there is a link between acid reflux and stress.
There isn’t much evidence that chamomile tea will decrease acid reflux, but that scarcely matters. The tea isn’t likely to make your symptoms any worse. It also happens to be delicious and perfect at the end of the day.
Caffeine-Free Herbal Tea
The herbal teas that we’ve mentioned so far have the most potential for decreasing acid reflux, but they’re far from the only options. Almost any caffeine-free herbal tea should be a safe bet for acid reflux sufferers. Some of these teas will help to calm your symptoms, while others are simply relaxing drinks.
You don’t need to stick to teas made from a single plant or flower either. There are many interesting blends out there that use multiple ingredients. These are often delicious and take advantage of the best parts of each ingredient.
The main exception is any tea that contains mint, as this will cause acid reflux for many people. Even if you experience no problems with peppermint or spearmint teas, you’re not likely to get the same calming effects as with other choices.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is sometimes recommended as a treatment for acid reflux too. However, this is an approach to try with caution, as some people find that their acid reflux symptoms get worse instead.
The idea is that apple cider vinegar can help to balance the pH in your stomach and reduce symptoms. Apple cider vinegar is fermented too, which could help with the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Trying apple cider vinegar for yourself isn’t too risky. Many people drink the vinegar daily to try and improve their health anyway. Even if the vinegar aggravates your acid reflux symptoms, the symptoms should calm down again before too long.
Just be sure to drink apple cider vinegar in water (preferably warm water), rather than having it straight. There’s no advantage to drinking apple cider straight anyway and doing so risks damage to your teeth or esophagus.
Fruit juice tends to be acidic and can easily trigger acid reflux. This doesn’t mean that you need to avoid juice entirely. You just need to choose the choice that you drink carefully. Carrot juice is one example, as this isn’t acidic.
Carrot juice is also useful as it is high in beta-carotene and may help to promote your eye health.
Aloe Vera Juice
The hype around aloe vera gets a little insane at times, as the plant isn’t nearly as amazing as many people like to imagine. Still, aloe vera juice does have some advantages, including the potential to help reduce acid reflux.
One reason is that the juice tends to be alkaline. It is also mild, which is helpful for acid reflux symptoms. There are even some suggestions that aloe vera can help to soothe the esophagus and reduce the risk of long-term complications from acid reflux.
Why not try something simple? Water has a neutral pH, so it’s not going to aggravate acid reflux. It can also help to dilute your stomach acid and keep your esophagus clear. Both of those features can be very helpful.
Plus, dehydration can be a trigger for acid reflux. Some people who experience acid reflux regularly may be dehydrated. Drinking more water throughout the day is an easy way to resolve the problem.
Alkaline water may be even better than regular water for heartburn, simply because of the difference in pH. Just bear in mind that many of the claims surrounding alkaline water may not be true. If you’re going to try it for yourself, do a little background digging first.
While lemon water is often touted as an incredibly healthy drink, it’s an odd addition to this list – as lemons are highly acidic. Despite this, lemon water may help to reduce acid reflux symptoms.
The effect is partly because you’re not drinking much lemon juice at a time, perhaps just a tablespoon of juice in a full glass of water. This low dose even means that lemon water tends to have an alkalizing effect, rather than an acidic one.
Coconut water gives you the benefits of regular water and a little bit more. For one thing, you get the flavor of coconut, which makes this a more enjoyable drink than plain water.
Coconut water also contains more than water nutrients. There are key electrolytes present that may improve hydration. You can think of coconut water like a healthy and natural sports drink.
This beautifully colored hot drink is generally made using plant-based milk, turmeric, and perhaps other spices. It mostly acts as a way to increase your turmeric intake, as turmeric has been linked to an array of health benefits. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric may be especially relevant for reducing acid reflux symptoms.
Plus, golden milk doesn’t contain any compounds that are likely to aggravate acid reflux. This makes it a safe drink to enjoy at any time of the day or night.
Highly acidic fruit juices often make acid reflux symptoms worse. Pear juice is a good alternative, as pears are much lower in acid than citrus fruits.
This means you can easily eat pears or drink pear juice without triggering your symptoms. Just be cautious about the ingredients, as some products have other fruit juices in the mix. The other ingredients could raise the acidity and make the juice less suitable for acid reflux.
Celery juice has become pretty famous for all its potential health benefits. It’s touted as a weight loss aid, a way to detox, and a drink to clear your skin. Celery is also high in water, which makes celery juice a hydrating drink.
Like pear juice, celery juice isn’t very acidic at all. It might also increase levels of gastric mucus – an effect that could decrease acid reflux symptoms.
Some people mix lemon juice or lime juice in with celery juice for health benefits. However, this isn’t wise if you deal with acid reflux, as the citrus juice will increase the acidity too much.
People with acid reflux normally need to cut down their caffeine intake, but you can still focus on decaf tea. Not surprisingly, this is just regular tea that has been decaffeinated, so it has a familiar flavor and all the same emotional associations.
Decaf tea still offers many of the benefits of regular tea as well, including all the plant-based compounds. It’s also a decent source of water, so it can help to keep you hydrated.
You need to be a little cautious, though, as decaffeinated tea contains some caffeine. We’re not talking about a lot, as there’s often less than 2 mg of caffeine per cup. Still, this caffeine could start to add up if you’re having multiple cups of decaf tea per day.
There’s also decaf coffee to think about. Again, this provides a familiar flavor profile, while dropping the caffeine content way down.
The caffeine content is similar here too, giving you around 2 mg of caffeine per cup. This should allow you to have at least a few cups of coffee without any acid reflux issues.
However, it’s still important to pay attention to your body. Coffee tends to be acidic and lack of caffeine doesn’t resolve this issue. You may find that even low acid coffee leads to acid reflux symptoms.
Drinks That Make Acid Reflux Worse
We’ve talked about good drinks for acid reflux, so what about the reverse perspective? Which drinks make your symptoms much worse? Here are some of the most problematic types of drinks. These are the ones you should avoid entirely or at least cut down your intake:
- Alcoholic Drinks. Most people don’t need to stop alcohol consumption entirely, but being cautious is certainly wise. You could even turn to alcohol free spirits to make the transition easier.
- Citrus juice. While orange juice seems healthy, the high acidity makes it a poor choice when you have acid reflux. It’s also pretty high in sugar, so it isn’t nearly as healthy as it seems. The juice might contribute to canker sores too.
- Soda. Sugary carbonated drinks are a poor choice if you have acid reflux. They often make your symptoms much worse and can harm your teeth as well.
- Spicy drinks. Lots of spice often increases acid reflux symptoms. Thankfully there aren’t that many spicy drinks out there, but you might still need to miss out on a few favorites.
- High fat drinks. Some research suggests that high fat drinks can increase acid reflux symptoms. They also increase your risk of weight gain and being heavier also makes acid reflux symptoms worse.
Ways To Reduce Acid Reflux
The first way to reduce acid reflux is obvious – reduce your intake of foods and drinks that cause acid reflux. But some other approaches can help too.
- Eat And Drink Slowly. Slowing down your eating and drinking can help immensely. Sometimes this even matters more than the foods you choose.
- Eat Smaller Meals. Some people find that the grazing strategy works well. This typically involves eating small meals frequently, rather than just a few large meals per day.
- Lose Weight. Excess weight promotes acid reflux. So, if you’re very overweight or your doctor advises weight loss, it’s worth trying to drop some pounds. Doing so might even stop your acid reflux entirely.
- Don’t Eat Close To Bedtime. Standing or sitting is better for your digestion. It’s best to stay up for at least three hours after a meal (or even a snack!). This gives your meal time to digest and stops you from dealing with acid reflux.
- Watch Movement And Exercise Too. Vigorous exercise and tasks that involve a decent amount of bending may trigger your reflux, especially straight after a meal. You’ll need to pay attention to your own responses here, as everyone is different.
- Ask About Your Medications. Some medications cause acid reflux, while others may make existing symptoms worse. It’s always worth talking to your doctor about options, as there may be alternatives that don’t produce as many symptoms.