Foods that reduce stomach acid are the first things you should add to your diet if an excess of acid is a problem. A reduced stomach acid diet can be a great way to alleviate any of the uncomfortable symptoms that arise from excess stomach acid.
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Foods That Reduce Stomach Acid
There may be more foods that reduce stomach acid than you think, and some of these could already be a part of your diet. However, there may be certain foods you haven't considered before that could help you with any stomach acid symptoms you're having.
According to AARP, beneficial foods to create a reduced stomach acid diet include:
- Bananas: Classified as an alkaline fruit (acidic and alkaline lie at either end of the pH spectrum) banana is a great fruit for balancing digestive acidity levels. In addition to this, a common side effect of excess stomach acid is acid reflux, caused by acid being released from the stomach up the esophagus. Banana helps combat this by coating the esophageal lining. Bananas are also high in a soluble fiber known as pectin, which helps move food in the stomach through digestion faster so that less acid can build up.
- Melons: Also classified as an alkaline fruit, so they can also help balance the digestive system. Melons are also a fantastic source of magnesium, which is often an ingredient in medication used to treat excess stomach acid. The best varieties of melon for stomach acid include cantaloupes and honeydew.
- Oatmeal: Particularly high in fiber, oatmeal is beneficial for excess stomach acid. When it comes to digestive health, fiber is essential. This is because it keeps food moving through the stomach and the digestive process. High fiber also allows the body to feel fuller for longer, which means the desire to overeat is minimized so less stomach acid is required or produced.
- Yogurt: This particular dairy product provides a soothing effect to the stomach, similar to bananas. Yogurt is also good for the body as a whole, thanks to its high probiotic content. Probiotics are naturally found in the digestive tract and are often referred to as "good bacteria." Not only do they benefit digestive health, they also give the immune system a natural boost.
- Green vegetables: Like bananas and melons, many green vegetables are classified as alkaline so they help to balance the acid levels in the stomach. The most alkaline are asparagus, spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts, all of which contribute to balancing stomach acidity to a considerable degree. In addition to their alkaline state, they are low in fat and sugar, both of which are known to exacerbate stomach acid.
Stomach Acid: Foods to Avoid
Eating foods low in acidity is certainly part of building a reduced stomach acid diet, but there are also many foods that you should avoid also. When attempting to reduce stomach acid, it is no good to just increase the intake of beneficial foods while still maintaining steady consumption of potentially damaging foods.
University Hospitals advises that a number of foods and drinks can increase stomach acid, so you should cut them from your diet if possible:
- Coffee and tea: Caffeinated drinks, though sometimes said to encourage bowel movements, do not act the same way that fiber does. They can actually exacerbate the acid in the stomach, which can lead to acid reflux or stomach pain. Decaf coffee is widely available, and there are many options for caffeine-free teas.
- Carbonated beverages: The bubbles in fizzy sodas or similarly carbonated drinks expand in the stomach once ingested and can increase pressure to the point of causing undue strain on the stomach. This strain can cause the digestive process to work much slower, allowing excess acid to form and cause discomfort or acid reflux.
- Chocolate: Chocolate is also high in caffeine, which can exacerbate stomach acid. In addition to caffeine, chocolate also contains fat and cocoa, which also contribute to high acidity —
making it one of the worst foods when it comes to stomach acid.
- Peppermint: Often advertised as a stomach soother, this is not the case when it comes to stomach acid. If you have high stomach acid, stay away from peppermint.
- Citrus fruits: Lemons and limes are particularly acidic fruits, but the worst citrus fruits for stomach acidity are grapefruit and oranges. Despite being a high source of vitamins, citrus fruits are notorious for their role in exacerbating stomach acid and should be avoided.
- Tomatoes: Similar to citrus fruits, tomatoes are naturally high in acid so they should not be included in a reduced stomach acid diet. This includes tomato soup. Also avoid spaghetti sauce and ketchup.
- Alcohol: Along with numerous negative effects alcohol has on the body, it also actively stimulates the production of acid in the stomach. If an occasion calls for you to drink alcohol, mediate the amount with a glass of water between each drink.
- Fried foods: Some of the very worst foods for acidity are served fried. Consider skipping the french fries, onion rings and fried chicken and opt for healthier options to soothe your stomach. Many of these foods can still be enjoyed as long as they are prepared differently. Try oven cooking or roasting chicken as opposed to frying it.
Stomach Acid Symptoms
The most common way that excess stomach acid manifests as a physical symptom is through acid reflux, alternatively known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The Cleveland Clinic advises that this occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and stomach acid leaks through where they shouldn't, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation in the throat and sometimes resulting in vomiting.
Symptoms can be soothed through an adjustment of diet and lifestyle. Harvard Health Publishing notes that lifestyle changes can include changes to posture while eating (such as eating upright so as to allow gravity to keep the acid in your stomach) and weight loss — less weight means less pressure on your stomach, which can worsen stomach acid.
Read more: Signs of Too Much Acid in the Stomach
If you have any concerns regarding your own stomach acidity and acid reflux, contact your health care professional for advice.