Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid and Healthier Alternatives


Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid

Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid

The alkaline diet has recently been in the limelight, with everyone from celebrities to health gurus touting the benefits of cutting acidic foods out of your diet.

Studies show that limiting your intake of acidic foods may improve bone strength, reduce the risk of kidney stones, lower chronic pain, improve hormone levels, and alleviate acid reflux as part of an acid reflux diet.

Following a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods and reducing your intake of a few of the most acidic foods can be a great way to help you make strides toward achieving optimal health.

So are strawberries acidic? Is rice acidic, and where exactly do your other favorite foods fall on the pH chart?

What Are Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid?

Although doctors debate which foods actually result in allergies, particular foods have been proven to cause problems for many men and women. To control your symptoms, you could start by eliminating the following foods from your diet.

High-fat foods
Eating high-fat meals puts you at higher risk for stomach symptoms, so reducing your total daily fat intake can help.

These foods have a high-fat content. Avoid these or eat them moderately :

  • French fries and onion rings
  • full-fat dairy products, including butter, whole milk, regular cheese, and sour cream
  • greasy or fried cuts of beef, poultry, pork, or lamb
  • bacon fat, ham fat, and lard
  • desserts or snacks, like ice cream and potato chips
  • cream sauces, gravies, and sweet salad dressings
  • fatty and fatty foods

Tomatoes and citrus berry

Fruits and vegetables are important in a wholesome diet. But certain fruits may cause or aggravate GERD symptoms, especially highly contaminated fruits. If you have regular acid reflux, you should reduce or eliminate the consumption of the following foods:

  • Berries
  • grapefruit
  • lemons
  • limes
  • pineapple
  • tomatoes
  • tomato sauce or foods which utilize it, such as chili and pizza
  • salsa


Chocolate contains an ingredient called methylxanthine. It’s been proven to relax the smooth muscle in the LES and boost reflux.

Garlic, onions, and hot foods

Spicy and tangy foods, like onions and garlic, trigger heartburn symptoms in a lot of people.

These foods will not trigger reflux in everyone. But if you eat a good deal of onions or garlic, make sure that you track your meals carefully in your journal. A few of those foods, along with spicy foods, may bother you more than other foods do.


Mint and goods with mint flavoring, such as chewing gum and breath mints, also can trigger acid reflux symptoms.

Other choices

While the lists over include common triggers, you may have unique intolerances to other foods. You might consider eliminating the following foods for a few weeks to determine if symptoms improve: dairy, flour-based products such as bread and crackers, and whey protein.

Your body maintains a tightly regulated pH level. This is a measure of acidity and alkalinity in the body’s fluids and tissues based on a scale from 0 to 14.

A lower pH level is more acidic, and higher pH levels are considered more alkaline. While a pH of 7 is neutral, a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45 is optimal for human health.

Even minute changes in your body’s pH levels can have a significant impact on health.

Alkalosis, which is caused by a high pH level, can cause symptoms like confusion, muscle twitching, and nausea, while acidosis can result in fatigue, shallow breathing, and headaches.

Luckily, your kidneys do most of the work in controlling your body’s pH by maintaining electrolyte levels and excreting/reabsorbing acidic and alkaline ions through the urine.

However, eating a diet high in alkaline foods may come with some health benefits.

Limiting your intake of acidic foods could help preserve bone strength, prevent kidney stones, and even decrease acid reflux symptoms.

Acidic Foods to Limit or Avoid

Here’s a quick list of the top 25 most acidic foods that you may want to limit.

These foods are considered acid-forming, and their intake should be moderated on a healthy diet:

  1. Convenience meals
  2. Alcohol
  3. Milk
  4. Caffeinated drinks
  5. Processed cereals
  6. Pizza
  7. Artificial sweeteners
  8. Peanuts
  9. Cheese
  10. Pasta
  11. Rice
  12. Bread
  13. Wheat products
  14. Butter
  15. Cold cuts
  16. Refined vegetable oils
  17. French fries
  18. Hot chocolate
  19. Red meat
  20. Sports drinks
  21. Table sugar
  22. Corn syrup
  23. Pancakes
  24. Fried foods
  25. Soda

Keep in mind that not all acidic foods should be eliminated from the diet completely.

Some ingredients on the acidic foods chart provide essential nutrients and can be included in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Most types of meat, for example, are considered acidic but supply many vital vitamins and minerals to the diet.

They can also help you meet your daily protein needs to improve your cells and muscles’ health.

Walnuts’ nutrition is also considered acidic but is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and promote better health.

Other healthy foods classified as acidic include oats, eggs, whole grains, and citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges.

The key is to include these acidic foods as part of a healthy, whole-food diet combined with plenty of non-acidic fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins.

Acidic Foods vs. Alkaline Foods

So how exactly is the list of acidic and alkaline food groups determined?

When you eat, the calories and nutrients are extracted from foods, and they are metabolized, leaving behind an ash residue.

This ash residue determines the pH of your food, separating it into either an acid-forming or alkalinizing food.

Acid-forming foods typically include animal proteins like meats, eggs, poultry, fish, milk products, and grains and alcohol.

Meanwhile, fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein foods are generally considered alkalinizing or non-acidic foods.

Side Effects and Dangers

There are plenty of reasons you may want to cut back on your consumption of acidic foods. Here are a few of the top side effects to consider.

1. Lower Bone Density

Some research has found that a diet rich in acid-forming foods could increase the amount of calcium lost through the urine, leading to a decline in bone density and a higher risk of osteoporosis.

One study published in the journal Osteoporosis International out of Switzerland gave participants either an acidic or alkaline diet. It showed that acidic food increased the amount of calcium excreted through the urine by 74 percent.

Another study showed that men with low calcium intake and a diet high in acidic foods were more likely to have lower bone mineral density.

The pH of milk is slightly acidic, but many other calcium sources are available to promote healthy bones and teeth.

Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are all excellent, non-dairy calcium-rich foods.

2. Exacerbate Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is when acid from the stomach flows back up to the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn and chest pain.

When working correctly, the esophagus has a band of muscles known as the sphincters that close to prevent this backflow and keep acid in the stomach.

However, with GERD, these esophageal sphincters are often weakened or damaged and unable to work efficiently.

Many acidic foods can contribute to acid reflux by relaxing the esophageal sphincter and allowing acid to splash up.

Caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and high-fat foods, for instance, are common triggers for acid reflux.

Meanwhile, alkaline foods, such as vegetables and non-citrus fruits, are considered foods that reduce stomach acid, helping decrease symptoms.

Additionally, balancing your pH to neutralize stomach acid, eating smaller meals, and making healthy lifestyle changes can all alleviate acid reflux as well.

3. Can Cause Kidney Stones

The foods that you eat can have a significant effect on the pH of your urine. When you eat more acidic foods, the pH of your urine is more likely to be acidic.

Eating lots of non-acid foods, on the other hand, is more likely to result in an alkaline pH.

Having an acidic pH in your urine increases the risk of developing uric acid or cystine kidney stones, which are small mineral deposits that form in your kidneys and often must be surgically removed or passed through the urinary tract.

When you have kidney stones, limiting your intake of acidic foods, such as animal proteins and soft drinks, may help.

Additionally, drinking more water, reducing your salt intake, and avoiding foods rich in oxalate, an antinutrient that can contribute to kidney stone formation, may also help reduce your risk.

4. Contribute to Chronic Pain

Some acidic foods that cause inflammation could also contribute to chronic pain. Acidosis has been linked to symptoms like muscle spasms, headaches, and chronic back pain.

A study out of Germany supplemented 82 participants with chronic back pain with alkaline minerals. After four weeks, symptoms were reduced by 92 percent of the participants.

Further research has found that a whole-foods, plant-based diet similar to the alkaline diet could help reduce osteoarthritis symptoms.

Following a healthy diet, getting in plenty of physical activity, and incorporating some natural painkillers into your daily routine could also help alleviate chronic pain.

5. Alter Hormone Levels

Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition out of the University of California shows that acidosis could lead to decreased human growth hormone (HGH) levels in the blood. HGH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland and is responsible for stimulating cell regeneration and growth.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation evaluated growth in a group of 10 children and infants with familial or idiopathic classic renal tubular acidosis.

Alkali therapy was initiated at ages ranging from eight days to 9.5 years to evaluate growth results over four prolonged observation periods.

Six patients had stunted growth at the start of the study, while two were too young to have stunted growth, and the other two were nonacidotic.

The researchers found that with sustained alkali therapy:

(a) each patient attained and maintained normal stature; (b) the mean height of the 10 patients increased from the 1.4+/-4 to the 37.0+/-33 percentile (of a normal age- and sex-matched population); (c) the mean height reached the 69th percentile in the eight patients whose heights could be analyzed according to parental prediction (Tanner technique); (d) the rate of growth increased two- to threefold, and normal heights were attained within 6 mo of initiating alkali therapy in the stunted infants and within 3 yr in the stunted children; (e) the height attained correlated inversely with the maximal possible duration of acidosis (before alkali therapy) only in those patients in whom alkali therapy was started after 6 mo of age, and not in those treated earlier.

In addition to promoting growth and proper development, growth hormone may also reduce heart disease risk factors, improve body composition, and enhance memory and cognition.

Healthy Alternatives

Following a low-acid diet can be as simple as making a few simple substitutes and trading out unhealthy ingredients for a few of the top alkaline foods instead.

Here are a few ideas for easy exchanges you can make to increase your intake of low-acid foods:

  • Swap out your soft drinks for alkaline water, and start your day with a refreshing green smoothie instead of coffee.
  • Try including a plant-based protein, such as beans or legumes, in your meal in place of meat a few times per week.
  • Sweeten up your foods using natural sweeteners like raw honey or maple syrup instead of artificial sweeteners.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods and instead focus on mostly unprocessed whole foods.
  • Opt for organic produce whenever possible, and look for grass-fed, free-range, or wild-caught beef, poultry, and seafood sources.

Ready to revamp your recipe collection and start improving your health?

The key is to look for recipes made up of mostly alkaline foods like fruits and vegetables with minimal amounts of acidic foods.

Here are some recipes that you can try at home:

Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid Infographic

Final Thoughts on Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid

  • Acidic foods are foods with a low/acidic pH that can decrease the pH of the urine.
  • Some research has found that regular consumption of acidic foods may contribute to kidney stones, low bone density, acid reflux, chronic pain, and altered hormone levels.
  • A few ingredients on the acidic foods chart include alcohol, dairy products, processed cereals, and artificial sweeteners.
  • However, some high-acid foods are healthy and OK to include as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, including oats, walnuts, eggs, and meat.
  • Aim for minimal amounts of processed foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet to help achieve better health and improve the overall quality of life.


journal Osteoporosis International out of Switzerland

European Journal of Nutrition out of the University of California