If you’ve been dealing with acid reflux, GERD, or LPR, you likely know that certain foods and drinks can trigger or worsen your symptoms. One of the most common culprits is citric acid, a naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and added to beverages, and supplements. But is citric acid bad for acid reflux?
Citric acid is bad for acid reflux. That’s mainly because of its high acidity level. This means it is not a good choice for acid reflux and will often trigger acid reflux problems at least in higher quantities.
Below we will go into citric acid in detail and what you need to know about how it can affect your acid reflux.
How Citric Acid Affects the Stomach
Citric acid is an acidifier, which means that it can lower the pH of the stomach and make it more acidic. This can affect the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus and prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. When the LES is weakened or relaxed, acid reflux and hearburn are more likely to happen.
Citric acid has a pH of around 2.2, which is very acidic. This high acidity level can make it more likely for acid reflux to occur or worsen its symptoms.
Some examples of foods and drinks that contain high amounts of citric acid and can trigger acid reflux include citrus fruits, berries, juices, sodas, and energy drinks.
How Citric Acid Affects the Esophagus
Besides affecting the stomach, citric acid can also irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause inflammation and damage. This can lead to complications such as esophagitis, ulcers, and worse.
Citric acid is more problematic for people with acid reflux because their esophagus and throat (LPR) may have previous irritation from past acid reflux events, simply citric acid passing over that can reaggravate the problem causing a bit of a negative loop if you where to continue to take foods or drinks with more citric acid.
How to Manage Citric Acid Intake for Acid Reflux
Citric acid intake is not the same for everyone, and some people may be more sensitive or tolerant than others. However, citric acid is often a trigger for people with acid reflux, and even small amounts can be problematic for people with more severe acid reflux like GERD & LPR.
The best approach is to base citric acid intake on personal experience and trial and error. If you notice that certain foods or drinks with citric acid trigger or worsen your acid reflux symptoms, it’s best to avoid them. Some tips on how to reduce or avoid citric acid intake for acid reflux include:
- Limit or eliminate citrus fruits and juices.
- Choose low-acid or alkaline beverages like water, milk, or herbal tea.
- Use alternative flavorings or sweeteners like ginger, honey, or cinnamon.
- Cook or bake your food to reduce the acidity level.
- Read the labels of packaged foods and drinks to check for citric acid content.
If you can’t avoid citric acid altogether, there are some tips on how to cope with citric acid intake for acid reflux, such as:
- Drink water or milk (including almond, soy milk etc) to neutralize the acidity.
- Chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva production.
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals to not overload the stomach.
- Wait at least 3 hours after eating before lying down.
- Try a natural remedy of water and baking soda mixed (here I talk about how to make it)
In conclusion, citric acid can cause or worsen acid reflux depending on the individual, the amount, and the source of citric acid.
High citric acid intake can also irritate the esophagus and lead to complications. However, there are ways to manage citric acid intake for acid reflux, such as avoiding high-citric acid foods and drinks, choosing low-acid or alkaline alternatives.
Remember that finding a balance between enjoying citric foods and drinks and preventing or relieving acid reflux symptoms is key.
Important Frequently Asked Questions
Does Citric Acid Increase Stomach Acid?
Yes, citric acid can increase stomach acid and make it more acidic, which can lead to acid reflux or worsen its symptoms.
Is Citric Acid Bad for Your Throat?
Yes, citric acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause inflammation and damage, which can lead to throat symptoms such as soreness, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing.
Who Should Not Take Citric Acid?
People with certain health conditions such as kidney disease, gout, or a history of kidney stones should avoid taking citric acid supplements or consuming large amounts of citric acid. Additionally, people who are allergic to citric acid should avoid it.