Orange juice is a great source of essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. But in certain cases, sipping orange juice can hurt your stomach.
Here are four possible reasons OJ makes your stomach hurt, plus what you can do about it.
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1. It's Acidic
One reason why orange juice may make your stomach hurt is because oranges and other citrus fruits naturally contain acid, which can irritate your stomach lining and lead to a stomachache, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Oranges can also trigger acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid washes into your esophagus, per the Cleveland Clinic. Common symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling like something is stuck in your throat
- Sore throat and hoarseness
The fix: Some orange juice manufacturers offer reduced-acid varieties that may help prevent or offset the stomach irritation or acid reflux you experience after drinking full-acid juices.
Does Orange Juice Help With Cramps?
While OJ can be the reason for your stomachache, in certain cases, it may actually help reduce pain from muscle spasms, per MIT Medical. That's because the juice hydrates your body and packs plenty of potassium, an electrolyte that can help ease cramping.
2. You May Be Allergic
Though it isn't common, it's possible to have an allergy to citrus fruits like oranges, according to January 2013 research in PLOS One. And if you do have an allergic reaction, it's likely because the orange or juice contains proteins that are similar to those found in allergy-causing pollens, per the Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of a food allergy can include:
- Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
- Tingly or itchy mouth
- Skin rashes like hives or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
The fix: Visit your doctor to see if an allergy is to blame, in which case the best way to avoid symptoms is to skip the OJ.
Some people can have an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, where your throat closes up and makes it hard to breathe, per the Mayo Clinic. Seek medical care immediately if this happens to you.
3. Raw Juice Can Give You Food Poisoning
If you have severe stomach pain after drinking orange juice, food poisoning may be the culprit. That's because raw or fresh-squeezed unpasteurized orange juice can contain bacteria that could lead to foodborne illness, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pasteurization, on the other hand, heats juice to kill those harmful microorganisms.
Besides a stomachache, food poisoning can also cause the following symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Stomach cramps
The fix: To avoid foodborne illness, stick to juices that are labelled as pasteurized. If you're making fresh OJ, be sure to wash and dry the fruit before you squeeze it, taking care to cut away any parts that look rotten or damaged, according to the FDA.
4. It Can Interact With Medication
Another reason why orange juice may hurt your stomach? Certain citrus fruits like Seville oranges and grapefruit can interact with some prescription medications, according to the Mayo Clinic. That's because chemicals in the fruit can mess with your body's ability to break down your medicine.
Per the Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, side effects of a drug interaction may include:
- Stomach bleeding
- Muscle pain or breakdown
- Kidney damage
- Low blood pressure
According to the FDA, common medicines that don't mix well with citrus include:
- Some statin drugs for high cholesterol like Zocor and Lipitor
- Some high blood pressure medications like Procardia and Adalat CC
- Some organ-transplant rejection medications like Neoral and Sandimmune
- Some anxiety medications like BuSpar
- Some corticosteroids for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, like Entocort EC and Uceris
- Some heart rhythm medications like Pacerone and Cordarone
- Some allergy medicines like Allegra
The fix: Avoid drinking orange juice or eating citrus fruits if your doctor or medication label recommends it.
If you're not sure whether you should avoid citrus while taking your prescription medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to determine if you should avoid any specific foods, according to the FDA.
- Cleveland Clinic: "5 Foods to Avoid When Digestive Troubles Arise"
- Cleveland Clinic: "GERD (Chronic Acid Reflux)"
- PLOS One: "Citrus Allergy from Pollen to Clinical Symptoms"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food allergy"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "What You Need to Know About Juice Safety"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Food Poisoning Symptoms"
- Mayo Clinic: "I like to drink grapefruit juice but hear that it can interfere with some prescription medications. Is that true?"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don't Mix"
- Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy: "Understanding Food and Medication Interactions"
- MIT Medical: "A horse named Charley"