Acid reflux is a backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus, which runs from your throat to your stomach. It occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter, or LES muscle, irregularly relaxes or weakens. Certain foods have the potential to aggravate or trigger acid reflux, and pancakes that have a high fat or acid content can be one of them.
Most "trigger foods" for acid reflux and its more severe cousin, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, have high amounts of fat or acid. For example, the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology Clinic recommends avoiding fried foods, mint, full-fat milk, oil, chocolate, creamy foods, citrus fruits, coffee, tea and fast food if you consistently struggle with reflux. Baked goods made or served with those items, including pancakes, may also trigger acid reflux.
The problem with pancakes is that they are fried in oil or butter and then topped with more butter at serving time, which can prove to be a huge obstacle for acid reflux sufferers. Annabel Cohen and Jill and Manuel Sklar, the authors of "Eating for Acid Reflux," propose one potential solution with baked pancakes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, place the pancake batter in circles on a nonstick baking sheet and bake the pancakes for six to eight minutes per side, flipping once.
What goes into pancakes can also contribute to triggering acid reflux. Specifically, whole milk or cream, full-fat buttermilk and hefty amounts of butter or oil can cause the LES muscle to relax and induce reflux. In "Tell Me What to Eat if I Have Acid Reflux," author Elaine Magee suggests using lighter ingredients. Her recipe for buttermilk pancakes incorporates low-fat buttermilk, a small amount of butter and no oil or cream. She also suggests serving the flapjacks with reduced-calorie syrup.
Not everyone who has acid reflux or GERD has the same trigger foods. What aggravates one person may not upset another, and you may even be able to eat one type of trigger food consistently and get reflux from it only sporadically. If you know that pancakes tend to bring on reflux for you, try preparing a lighter version or cutting them out of your diet altogether. Other lifestyle remedies, such as eating smaller portions, smaller and more frequent meals, losing weight, staying in an upright position after you eat and wearing looser clothing may also help reduce symptoms according to PubMed Health.com. Before you make any notable changes to your diet or attempt to treat persistent acid reflux, see your doctor.