What to Eat When You Have an Acidic Stomach

If you struggle with an acidic stomach, consider which foods you're eating that may be worsening the condition. Consume highly acidic foods in moderation and adopt a low acid diet to relieve your symptoms.

Bananas are great if you have an acidic stomach. Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/GettyImages

Read more: Signs of Too Much Acid in the Stomach

Low-Acid Foods

Foods that are low in acidity make for a less acidic stomach.

According to AARP and University Hospitals, these are some of the key foods to include in a low acid diet:

  • Bananas: An alkaline fruit that coats the esophageal lining to help prevent discomfort and reflux. Bananas are among the best additions to a low acid diet. They are also high in a soluble fiber called pectin that helps keep the contents of the stomach moving, which minimizes excess acid.

  • Fennel: A naturally soothing low acid herb, addition of fennel to your diet can help ease discomfort from excess stomach acid.

  • Lettuce, celery and red peppers: These vegetables are all mild and low in acidity, so they can help soothe an overly acidic stomach.

  • Green vegetables: Green vegetables are low in fat and sugar, two causes of acidity in the stomach. In addition, they tend to be alkaline —

    especially asparagus, Brussels sprouts and kale.

  • Melon: Melons are alkaline fruits that can help to balance the stomach's pH levels. They are also naturally high in magnesium, which is frequently found in stomach acid medications.

  • Oatmeal: High in fiber, oatmeal is a great addition to a low acid diet. It helps to keep food moving through the digestive system and helps you feel fuller for longer, so your desire for sugary, acidic snacks will be minimized.

  • Yogurt: Naturally soothing for the stomach, yogurt is high in probiotics —

    a type of good bacteria found in the body's digestive tract —

    providing a boost to both digestive health and the strength of the immune system.

Adding any of these foods to your diet can reduce your levels of stomach acidity or help to balance the acid levels already present.

Tips

If you have adjusted your diet accordingly and you are still struggling with excess stomach acidity or acid reflux, contact your health care professional for advice — there are medications available that can help.

Acidic Stomach: Worst Offenders

Along with adding low-acid foods to your diet to reduce or balance your stomach acidity, be mindful that what you do eat isn't high in acid. It doesn't matter how many bananas you eat per day if you follow them with a fried breakfast and a large coffee.

According to University Hospitals, some of the most acidic foods that you should avoid include:

  • Coffee and tea: Caffeine aggravated stomach acid and can make an already uncomfortable situation worse. Try decaffeinated coffee and caffeine-free teas.
  • Carbonated drinks: Skip the fizzy sodas; not only are they high in sugar, which can contribute to stomach acidity, the bubbles you drink actually expand in the stomach, causing unnecessary strain and pressure that can worsen stomach acid and slow digestion.
  • Chocolate: High in sugar, fat and cocoa, chocolate is one of the worst foods for stomach acidity. Swap the chocolate bars for alkaline fruits like banana or melon.
  • Citrus fruits: Grapefruit and oranges are worst, but all citrus fruits (including lemon and lime) are highly acidic and can contribute to the worsening of acid reflux. Avoid citrus when possible, and swap in more alkaline fruits, such as apples and blueberries.
  • Tomatoes: Naturally very high in acid. Choose vegetables such as spinach, eggplant or cucumber as a safer option. Avoid tomato products as well, including tomato soup, marinara sauce and ketchup, as well as pizza with tomato sauce.
  • Alcohol: Actively stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, as well as dehydrating the body. Trade the alcohol for water or a fruity soft drink (not a citrus drink) to limit excess acid.
  • Fried foods: Avoid french fries, onion rings and fried chicken. Try oven-cooking or roasting chicken instead of frying it. This way you can enjoy all the benefits of chicken without the added acidity

When it comes to stomach acid, knowing what not to eat can be just as important as know what you should eat. Finding the balance between the two should be your goal, so you do not have to worry about consuming too much acid or foods that will create stomach acid. Your diet can still include a variety of foods so it does not become boring or dull.

Read more: The Best Foods to Eat if You Have Acid Reflux

Is Stomach Acid Bad?

In short: No, stomach acid is not bad. It is the excess of stomach acid that causes problems, and this is controllable through the proper diet.

In fact, stomach acid is an integral part of the digestive process. Without it, food would not be broken down properly and could not pass through the digestive system, potentially leading to abdominal pain or constipation.

According to the Riordan Clinic, stomach acid is necessary for four key digestive processes:

  1. Proteolysis: The breakdown of proteins so that they can be sufficiently absorbed. Without this process, none of the key nutrients in your food could be absorbed.
  2. Enzyme activation: In particular, the activation of pepsin, a key enzyme in the breakdown of proteins leading to proteolysis.
  3. Chemical signaling: The beginning of the process of moving the contents of the stomach through to the small intestine is signaled by stomach acid. This is why a deficiency in stomach acid can lead to constipation.
  4. Bacteria inhibition: Stomach acid actually kills a lot of damaging bacteria that may find its way into your body, making infections less likely. This does not mean that more acid equals less chance of infection, but what it does mean is that a healthy amount of stomach acid is necessary for the health of your digestive system.

Stomach acid is not the enemy — it is an incredibly important part of the body's natural functioning, it just needs to be moderated so that you don't experience negative symptoms from excess stomach acid.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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