Eat This Not That: Acid Reflux Edition

Approximately 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), better known as acid reflux. This is a chronic condition that happens when the esophageal sphincter does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus.

Symptoms of GERD can include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and more. Many people experience increased symptoms of GERD at night. Nighttime GERD can create chronic coughs, laryngitis, new or worsening asthma, and disrupted sleep. Understanding what foods can cause acid reflux can play a major role in avoiding discomfort, symptoms, and side effects.


  • High-fiber foods can make a person feel full, making them less likely to overeat, which can contribute to acid reflux. Foods that are high in fiber are easily digestible, making them great for people with GERD. The following foods are extremely high in fiber:
    • Whole grains
      • Whole grain bread
      • Brown rice
      • Oatmeal
    • Root vegetables
      • Carrots
      • Turnips
      • Parsnips
    • Green vegetables
      • Spinach
      • Broccoli
      • Green peas
      • Collard greens
    • Alkaline foods have a higher PH and can help offset strong stomach acid. Alkaline foods level out and balance any harmful or excess acids in the body. Examples of alkaline foods include:
      • Bananas
      • Melons
      • Cauliflower
      • Nuts
      • Asparagus
    • Water-based foods can dilute and weaken stomach acid. Water is essential for the body to properly break down food, which is another reason why water-based foods are also good for the digestive system. Water-based foods that help fight against acid reflux by neutralizing stomach acid include:
      • Celery
      • Cucumber
      • Lettuce
      • Watermelon


  • High-fat and fried foods may cause acid reflux. High-fat foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which may allow stomach acid to escape from the stomach into the esophagus. Foods that are high in fat and should be moderated or avoided include:
    • French fries
    • Potato chips
    • High-fat cream
    • Whole milk
    • Pizza
  • Highly acidic foods and drinks should be avoided. Foods and drinks with high acidic content cause a greater likelihood of acid reflux by creating more stomach acid. The increase in stomach acid can result in regurgitation through the esophagus. These foods and drinks include:
    • Orange juice
    • Coffee
    • Tomato sauce
    • Alcohol
    • Citrus
  • Certain desserts can relax the sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus, allowing for acid to rise to the esophagus and should be avoided:
    • Chocolate
    • Peppermint
    • Potato chips
    • Ice cream

Always consult your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of GERD, consider clinical research for help. Sign up to learn more below.