Understanding acid reflux and food triggers
Acid reflux is characterised by the contents of the stomach, including acid, flowing back into the oesophagus (food pipe).3 Certain foods can either alleviate or exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux.3-5 For instance, foods that are high in fat can cause the sphincter that keeps the contents of stomach from moving back up the oesophagus to relax, affecting its function.4 Fatty foods can also cause a delay in the emptying of the stomach, so food sits in there for longer, which may potentially lead to heartburn.4 Other common food triggers include citrus fruits, tomatoes, caffeine, and spicy foods.3,4
On the other hand, some foods are less likely to cause disruption to the digestive process, thus reducing the chances of acid reflux. Foods that are high in fibre, for instance, have been found to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.6 Understanding the balance between triggers and alleviators of acid reflux is crucial, as diet plays a significant role in managing the condition.3,4
List of foods to eat with acid reflux
- Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, potatoes, green beans, and cauliflower not only provide essential nutrients, but are low in fat and sugar (which can increase the risk of acid reflux).5
- Oatmeal: A soothing breakfast option, oatmeal is high in fibre, helping to absorb stomach acid to reduce the risk of acid reflux.5
- Non-citrus fruits: Bananas, melons, and apples provide essential nutrients and contain fibre. They are less likely to trigger acid reflux than acidic fruits such as oranges or snacks with added fat and sugar.5
- Ginger: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger also encourages the stomach to empty sooner, which may reduce acid reflux symptoms. Ginger can trigger acid reflux symptoms in some people so start with a little the first time and see how you go.5
- Lean proteins: Opt for poultry, fish, and other seafood. These sources of protein are less likely to trigger acid reflux compared to fatty meats.5,6
- Egg whites: While egg yolks are high in fat and may trigger acid reflux symptoms, egg whites are low in fat and high in protein.5
- Healthy fats: Fats are necessary for the body to function, but it’s important to choose the right ones. Healthy fats include avocados, walnuts and olive oil, which are less likely to cause acid reflux than animal fats and fats added to processed foods.5
- Healthy drinks: Herbal teas, plant-based milks and juices made with non-acidic vegetables are good options. Avoid drinks that contain alcohol, sweeteners and caffeine.5
How these foods help prevent acid reflux
The foods mentioned above contribute to preventing acid reflux through various mechanisms. Foods that are high in fibre such as oatmeal help absorb stomach acid, reducing the amount available to flow back into the oesophagus.5 Some foods like ginger encourage the stomach to empty sooner, thus reducing the content available for reflux.5 Acidic foods tend to trigger reflux symptoms by irritating the lining of the oesophagus, thus non-citrus fruits and vegetables are a gentle alternative for the stomach that offer essential vitamins and minerals.5,6
Tips for incorporating these foods into your diet
Incorporating acid reflux-friendly foods into your diet can be both simple and delicious:
- Start your day with oatmeal topped with banana slices.
- Try poached egg whites on toast for a low-fat, high protein breakfast.
- Swap your morning coffee with an herbal tea or carrot juice.
- Add ginger to smoothies, stir-fries, or teas for a soothing touch.
- Swap fatty meats with lean protein sources in your meals.
- Snack on non-citrus fruits during the day.
- Add a side of air-fried broccoli to your dinner plate.
How Gaviscon can help
While diet modifications are a powerful tool for managing acid reflux, sometimes symptoms may persist.3 Gaviscon's range of products create a protective barrier that prevents stomach acid from rising up and causing discomfort. They can help provide additional relief for those moments when dietary changes alone aren't enough.
Incorporating foods that help reduce the risk of acid reflux and understanding the foods to avoid, can be a proactive step towards acid reflux management.3 Remember, individual responses to foods may vary, so consult healthcare professionals for personalised advice.
- Heading RC, et al. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016;28(4):455–462.
- MacFarlane B. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2018;7:41–752.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux in adults [published August 2022]. In: Therapeutic Guidelines. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; accessed August 2023. https://www.tg.org.au.
- World Gastroenterology Organisation. WGO Handbook on Heartburn: A global perspective, 2015.
- Healthline. Foods to help your acid reflux. Updated 7 June 2023. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/diet-nutrition (accessed August 2023).
- Newberry C, Lynch K. J Thorac Dis 2019;11(Suppl 12):S1594–S1601.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
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