Can Drinking Orange Juice Make Your Stomach Hurt?

Young woman drinking orange juice on bed (portrait)
A young woman holding a glass of orange juice. (Image: amana productions inc/amana images/Getty Images)

A nutrient-rich addition to the diet, orange juice provides essential nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C and folate. However, drinking orange juice can cause digestive upset in some people, and might even damage the delicate lining of the stomach. This can cause stomach irritation or even gastritis, a condition that occurs when the stomach lining becomes painfully inflamed.

Citric Acid

Orange juice contains citric acid. According too "Science Daily," citric acid acts as a natural preservative and gives citrus fruits their sour taste. Citric acid is also an ingredient commonly used as an eco-friendly cleaner. A natural food chemical with the ability to clean surfaces can also erode the sensitive lining of the stomach, causing your stomach to hurt.

Allergic Reaction

According to Dr. Victor Crump of the Auckland Allergy Clinic, oranges have high salicylate content. "It is chemically related to aspirin, which is a derivative of salicylic acid," he advises. Salicylate, just like aspirin, causes stomach upset and pain in those sensitive to its properties.

Raw Orange Juice and Food Poisoning

Unpasteurized orange juice may contain bacteria, which could lead to food poisoning. Pasteurization heats the juice to kill bacteria and microorganisms they might contain, while raw juice can more easily serve as a breeding ground for microbes. Commercial orange juice producers must pasteurize and label their products as such. However, home-squeezed juices and some juices sold at fresh markets are frequently unpasteurized. To minimize the risks of drinking unpasteurized juice, keep it refrigerated and drink fresh juice promptly.

Reduced Acid Orange Juice

Orange juice manufacturers now offer reduced-acid varieties meeting the needs of consumers with low tolerance for high citric acid content in orange juice. However, it is not acid-free, so it might still irritate extremely sensitive stomachs. It still contains salicylate, so if your stomach irritation is due to an allergic reaction, low-acid orange juice may still cause your stomach to hurt.

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