There are many top acid reducing foods to combat reflux, GERD, and other common indigestion problems, which can easily be found with a trip to one’s neighborhood grocery. Certain foods not only do not cause excess acid build-up in the stomach that can lead to such problems as acid reflux or chronic heartburn but they may also help ease symptoms of existing conditions.
Most people associate acid reflux or heartburn with consuming acidic or spicy foods. Actually, there may be more to these conditions medically than just the foods. Acid reflux, for example, can be caused by stomach acid washing upward into the esophagus. This is from an abnormal closure of the muscles connecting the esophagus to the stomach – acid roils upward and can cause heartburn and, over time, scarring of the esophagus.
In chemistry, the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance is designated on a scale from 0 to 14 called a “pH” scale. Things with pH numbers between 0 and 7 are “acids”; those with numbers between 7 and 14 are “bases”. A higher number indicates that the food is more alkaline. Pure water, for example, is neutral, and has a pH balance of zero. Hydrochloric acid, at moderate concentrations, is pH 1.
Adding baking soda (a base) to vinegar (an acid) creates a chemical reaction to naturalize both toward the center of the pH scale. The same is true in one’s stomach, which is why drinking a small amount of baking soda (high pH) with water (neutral pH) reduces stomach upset – it is neutralizing the stomach’s acids.
Foods that are acidic and lead to excess acid and heartburn are as one might expect: tomatoes and tomato-based sauces are prime examples. Fruits in the alkaline end of the pH scale are apples, watermelons, and banana. Avocados and rhubarb are also excellent acid reducers. It may surprise some to find, however, that lemons – although slightly acidic – do not cause additional acid production after being eaten. Neither do limes or grapefruits.
Vegetables in the “base” end of the pH scale are the ones most children seem to not like. Broccoli and cabbage are perhaps two of nature’s finest; because these have no starches, either, one can eat as much as desired without worrying about spikes in blood-sugar levels or carbohydrates. Green beans (which children generally do enjoy) are another good food in this group.
Meats are important to many. Regular ground beef is probably the most acidic of all meats. Switching to leaner ground beef will help. Better still, switch to chicken. And, for the ultimate in low acid foods, fish and other seafoods are the best bet. Still in the realm of protein, almonds are another food that can reduce reflux.
The stomach’s environment is acidic – adding more acidic foods only raises this level. Smart shopping can help avoid these problems in the first place. Adding foods with higher pH numbers (toward the “base” end of the spectrum) to one’s regular diet can also provide a tasty variety as well as relief from heartburn.