Citric acid intolerance is a relatively rare condition. It is more than a sensitivity or allergy to citrus fruits; citric acid is naturally present in berries, cheese, pineapple, tomatoes and wine. It is also used for flavoring and as a preservative in canned fruits and vegetables, beverages and mayonnaise. Citric acid intolerance is linked to gastrointestinal conditions such as acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD and irritable bowel syndrome. While the mechanisms that cause such severe reactions are still being investigated, a citric acid-free diet has provided relief to many people.
Avoid citrus fruits and juices, including lemons, oranges and limes. All citrus fruits are sources of citric acid.
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Read labels on all sodas, beverages, canned and processed foods to avoid citric acid. It is often added as a flavoring or preservative. Look for citric acid, citrate of calcium or citrate of potassium on the ingredients list.
Eat home-cooked meals of beef, pork, poultry and fish. Unprocessed meats are naturally citric acid free. However, read spice bottles carefully. Spices such as lemon pepper, salt-free seasonings, seasoned salt and seasoning packets may contain citric acid.
Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as part of your citric acid-free diet. However, avoid berries, cayenne peppers, lettuce, pineapple and tomatoes. Also avoid juices and beverages that incorporate these fruits and vegetables or include citric acid in the ingredients list.
Add milk and milk products, including live-culture plain yogurt, to your diet. Unless you are lactose intolerant, there is some evidence that milk helps mitigate the effects of citric acid on digestion. In addition, probiotics such as yogurt and acidulous milk help build healthy bacteria levels in your digestive system.
Stop smoking. Tobacco naturally contains high levels of citric acid.
Add a B-complex vitamin that contains vitamin B-5 to your daily plan. While the link between vitamin B-5 supplements and the reduction of symptoms caused by citric acid is anecdotal, the B-complex vitamins are known to support metabolism and the immune system.
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Always consult your dietitian or health care provider before beginning a new eating plan. Keep a food journal. Upon review of the journal, your health care provider may find other conditions that are causing your symptoms.
Serious health conditions are often masked by digestive upsets. If a citric acid-free diet does not resolve your symptoms, consult your health care provider.