Prone to Heartburn? Avoid these 6 Drinks

If you suffer from heartburn, you're not alone. At some point, nearly everyone will experience a painful, burning feeling in their chest or throat caused by acid or other stomach contents backing up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.)  If your heartburn occurs more than twice a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In the case of GERD, the muscles at the end of the esophagus do not close tightly enough, allowing stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. The result is irritation to the esophagus.

Although the causes of heartburn can vary from person to person, there are some common triggers, such as pregnancy, fried foods, and certain drinks. To identify which foods and drinks may be causing your heartburn distress, keep a food diary that lists what you eat every day and when; any symptoms you experience; and any activities you partook in before the discomfort started.

There are some drinks that are particular heartburn aggravators. Here are six types of drinks to avoid:

  1. Alcohol-Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid and relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. Plus, alcohol can lead to the development of peptic ulcers. If you don't want to give up alcohol entirely, there are ways to minimize its effects on your digestive system. Make a note of which alcoholic drinks cause you the most heartburn, and avoid them as much as possible. Also try diluting the beverage with water or club soda; drink white wine instead of red; and choose nonalcoholic beer or wine.

  2. Citrus juices-These juices, especially pineapple and orange juices, stimulate stomach acids and can cause heartburn. Also avoid grapefruit, cranberry, lemon, and lime juices.

  3. Carbonated beverages-All types of carbonated soft drinks.

  4. Caffeinated drinks-Coffee, tea, and soda. Wean yourself off these drinks slowly to avoid headaches from caffeine withdrawal, and try drinking decaffeinated versions of these drinks instead, although even decaffeinated drinks can cause problems for some people.

  5. Tomato and V-8 juice-Tomatoes relax the LES and increase stomach acid production.

  6. Milk-For some people, milk and milk products can lead to acid reflux. If milk is one of your triggers, try drinking low-fat or preferably fat-free milk instead. Fat-free milk can actually help neutralize stomach acid.

As far as water goes, you can drink as much as you want without fear of setting off a bout of heartburn. Water helps to keep the digestive system moving so acid doesn't get a chance to build up in the stomach. And it doesn't stimulate the stomach to produce more acid.