A low acid diet is the one of the best ways to treat conditions cause by excess stomach acid. These conditions can include intestinal discomfort, stomach cramps and acid reflux. You may find relief by increasing your intake of low acid foods and decreasing the acidic foods in your diet.
Low Acid Foods
The introduction of low acid foods to your diet can often help with stomach acidity and acid reflux, because some foods can help to balance the stomach and others provide a soothing effect if excess acid has already formed.
According to AARP, the best foods to incorporate into a low acid diet include:
- Bananas: Provide a soothing effect by coating the esophageal lining, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux. If acid reflux does occur, then the protective barrier lessens the discomfort. Bananas are also high in a soluble fiber known as pectin, which helps to move food through the digestive system so it does not sit in your stomach for an extended period of time.
- Melons: High in magnesium, a mineral often used in medications for high stomach acidity. The best melons for stomach acid are cantaloupe and honeydew.
- Oatmeal: The best thing for digestive health is fiber, and oatmeal is full of it. This high fiber food helps move the contents of the stomach through the digestive process, lessening the formation of stomach acid. Oatmeal also helps you to feel fuller for longer, minimizing the frequent snacking that can sometimes result in heightened acid.
- Yogurt: Provides a soothing effect similar to that of bananas. Yogurt is also high in probiotics —a type of good bacteria found in the digestive tract. This means not only is your stomach soothed, but your immune system is also given a boost.
- Green vegetables: Thanks to their low fat and sugar content, green vegetables are some of the best foods for stomach acidity. Many of them are also highly alkaline, meaning they provide balance to the stomach’s acid levels. Some of the most alkaline green vegetables include asparagus, spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts
If high stomach acidity or acid reflux is something your body is sensitive to, the addition of any of these low acid foods should help alleviate some of the discomfort. If they do not, contact your health care provider for further advice.
List of Acidic Foods
If your stomach produces too much acid, it could be from eating too many highly acidic foods. By reducing the amount of acidic foods that you eat, you may reduce the chance of excess stomach acid forming and irritating your stomach.
Several acidic foods cause the most problems, cautions University Hospitals:
- Chocolate: Containing cocoa, fat and caffeine, chocolate is one of the worst foods for high acidity. Avoid eating chocolate if you have problems with stomach acid.
- Citrus fruits: Oranges and grapefruit are the worst citrus fruits for acidity, but all citrus fruits can cause stomach acid. Lemons and limes are additional citrus fruits that should be avoided due to their naturally high acidity.
- Tomatoes: Avoid fresh tomatoes and tomato products because they’re all high in acidity. This includes tomato soup, marinara sauce and ketchup.
- Fried foods: Remove french fries, onion rings and fried chicken from your diet if stomach acid is a problem. Chicken is not an acidic food, so you can eat chicken that is oven cooked or roasted —the frying process is what causes the acid.
You should also avoid certain drinks, such as:
- Coffee and tea: Like chocolate, coffee and tea are both highly caffeinated and can exacerbate stomach acid, leading to discomfort or acid reflux. Opt for decaf coffee and caffeine-free teas.
- Peppermint: Peppermint tea is often marketed as a tummy soother, but when it comes to acid, it is the exact opposite. Avoid peppermint tea if you struggle with stomach acidity. Many herbal teas do contain alkaline properties, but peppermint is not one of them.
- Carbonated beverages: The bubbles in fizzy sodas can expand in the stomach, causing strain and pressure that can disrupt the digestive process and cause abdominal discomfort as well as increased acid. Try a fruit drink or, even better, a glass of water instead.
- Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages actively encourage the production of acid in the stomach, and due to its dehydration effect, alcohol also puts strain on the body. Both of these factors worsen stomach acid and can lead to pain, acid reflux and even vomiting.
Late-night snacking and poor posture, especially when you’re eating, can also worsen stomach acid. Try not to eat for at least two hours before you go to sleep, because the digestive process can be less effective when you’re lying down, which can result in acid reflux.
Harvard Health Publishing points out that maintaining an upright posture during and after eating can also help prevent stomach acid and acid reflux.
Alkaline Food List
In addition to reducing the amount of acid you consume by adopting a low acid diet, you should also consider adding some alkaline foods to your menu. Acidity is measured using the pH scale, which ranges from acidic to alkaline.
You stomach naturally has a pH of 1 to 2, making it a very acidic organ. The introduction of alkaline foods can help provide balance to the stomach, helping to reduce its acidity.
The alkaline diet differs slightly from a diet that solely includes foods low in acidity as it specifically targets food with pH levels that are alkaline, as opposed to being neutral. Any food that has a pH greater than 7 is considered alkaline.
The increased intake of alkaline foods not only helps balance the stomach’s acidity, but it has also been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation following injury and infection. As the alkaline diet is predominantly made up of fruits, vegetables and water with a distinct absence of fatty or sugary foods (which are notoriously acidic) it is also beneficial for weight loss.
There are many alkaline foods available that can help bring balance to the stomach’s acidity. The Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation advises that a number of foods are suitable as options diet due to their alkaline levels on the pH scale:
- Vegetables: spinach, kale, cucumber and asparagus
- Fruits: avocados, melon and ripe mango
- Soy products
The key to staying healthy when it comes to acidity and alkalinity is balance. Taking up a solely alkaline diet could negatively impact the amount of protein you receive, whereas an overly acidic diet can cause acid reflux, heartburn and other nasty side effects.
There are certainly protein sources found in alkaline foods, but if you abandon meat and dairy from your diet in an effort to reduce acidity without finding appropriate replacements, then you may find yourself nutritionally deficient. Balance is key.
If you have concerns regarding the acidity and alkalinity of your own diet, speak to your usual health care professional for further advice.