What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is a very common condition where stomach acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus, leading to irritation or burning. Normally lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle ring between the end of the esophagus and the stomach tightens to prevent the movement of stomach contents upward. The LES only opens to allow food movement. However, when the LES weakens or relaxes at the wrong time, fluid from the stomach can escape.
Most commonly, acid reflux manifests as heartburn, a sour taste in the mouth or a hoarse voice. If acid reflux is persistent and interferes with your life you may have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, and may need to be seen by a physician.
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Avoiding reflux can be simple with lifestyle modifications and medications. In rare cases, surgery may be required.
If you have GERD, you should be paying attention to the drinks you are consuming, how much you consume, and what you do after consumption.
What drinks should I avoid?
- Alcohol - Alcohol both relaxes the LES and stimulates the stomach to secrete more acid.
- Carbonated drinks - Bubbles in carbonated drinks put pressure on the LES and make acid reflux more likely.
- Caffeinated drinks - Beverages like coffee, tea and soda also aggravate reflux. Try switching to a decaf version.
- Citrus juices - Citric juices such as orange or grapefruit juice can increase the acid content in the stomach and make the condition worse.
What beverages help acid reflux?
- Ginger tea - This is one of the limited amount of beverages that may work. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe the stomach and decrease gastric acid production. However, avoid ginger ale as the carbonation will easily offset the benefits of ginger.
- Dairy drinks - Drinks like milk or yogurt drinks may be useful because they are alkaline and neutralize stomach acid. However, pay attention to the fat content of these drinks as high fat can actually trigger reflux.
Should I change my drinking habits?
- Aim to drink small amounts frequently - Avoid drinking a lot in one sitting as this creates pressure in your belly and may trigger acid production.
- Avoid late-night drinking - Assuming you will lie down soon afterward gravity will can act against you.
- Stay in an upright position after drinking - In a similar vein, sitting upright can make reflux less likely as fluid will have to travel up into the esophagus against gravity.
- Avoid strenuous exercise immediately after drinking - exercise diverts blood away from the digestive system. Fancy moves and bending your body can also cause acid to escape from your stomach. Instead, try going for a light stroll.
Avoiding drinks that are triggers and consuming drinks that may be beneficial are ways to beat acid reflux. Reconsider your drinking habits and what you do soon after you have had a drink to minimize the chance of getting heartburn or other uncomfortable symptoms.