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Orange Juice And Digestion

by
author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Orange Juice And Digestion
A glass of orange juice surrounded by oranges. Photo Credit HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Digestive problems are often linked to insufficient stomach acidity, poor eating habits, combining incompatible foods and stomach or intestinal infections. Indigestion often leads to abdominal pain, acid reflux, flatulence and diarrhea. Fresh-squeezed orange juice can help increase the acidity within your stomach and promote better digestion, but it should be consumed prior to eating and not combined with most foods. Drinking any acidic juices while experiencing acid reflux can aggravate symptoms. Consult with your doctor if you suffer from chronic indigestion.

Indigestion

Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or dyspepsia, has a variety of causes but lack of stomach acidity is a common culprit according to the book “Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease.” The acidity of your stomach should be at least 3 on the pH scale while food is in your stomach. A higher or more alkaline pH in your stomach does not allow sufficient breakdown carbohydrates or adequately prepare proteins and fat for digestion in your small intestine. Causes of inadequate acidity in your stomach include nutritional deficiency, poor dietary choices, food allergies, hormonal or electrolyte imbalance, infection, drug interactions, excessive stress, extreme fatigue and certain hereditary and acquired diseases.

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Symptoms

The most common symptoms of poor digestion include abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation, loose stools, fatigue, weight fluctuation and mood imbalance, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease” by Gerald Litwack. Common treatments for poor digestion include dietary modification, taking antacids for symptomatic relief, supplementing with digestive enzymes and trying to naturally lower stomach pH during meals. Citrus juices can work well in regards to lowering pH.

Orange Juice

Oranges are citrus fruits that contain a variety of natural acids, particularly citric and ascorbic acids. Depending on the species, growing conditions and ripeness, fresh squeezed orange juice can have a pH lower than 3, according to “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." As such, drinking orange juice about 15 to 30 minutes prior to eating may help stimulate the secretion of digestive juices or lower the pH levels. Other acidic beverages, such as lemonade, pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar, are also consumed in order to promote digestion.

Cautions

Don't combine orange juice should not be combined with carbohydrates such as bread, pasta or potatoes because the enzyme needed to properly digest them is destroyed by certain acids. Natural fruit acids prevent carbohydrate digestion, which provides substrates for bacteria in your large intestine to ferment. Fermentation produces gas, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. Further, acidic fruits should not be combined with proteins because it hampers their digestion in the small intestine. For example, drinking orange juice with eggs, milk, cheese or meats will surely increase your risks of indigestion. The science of food combining is well established, but not widely known. Simple biochemical reactions make big impacts on digestion and health. Talk to a nutritionist about the benefits of orange juice and the best times to drink it.

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References

  • “Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease”; Eric Newsholme et al; 2010
  • “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
  • “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism”; Sareen Gropper et al; 2009
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