Is It a Myth That You Should Avoid Whole Groups of Food With Acid Reflux?

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

If you have described your acid reflux symptoms to your friends, they may have advised you to give up some of your favorite foods to eliminate your reflux. However, acid reflux is a complicated condition, and everyone's body is different. For the most part, there is not enough evidence to avoid entire groups of food (such as all spicy foods, or everything with chocolate in it), according to the American College of Gastroenterology Clinical Practice Guidelines.

Evidence doesn’t support this acid reflux myth

One of the many problems with acid reflux is that it can affect different people in different ways. While some people report that certain foods make their reflux symptoms worse, there is very little scientific evidence supporting the complete elimination of foods that are often associated with reflux.

For example, chocolate is often avoided for fear of worsening of reflux symptoms. However, no studies have actually assessed the benefit of not eating chocolate on acid reflux symptoms, according to the Current Opinion in Gastroenterology published in 2017.

Another example is coffee. Individuals often associate increased acid reflux with drinks such as coffee. However, a recent study showed no significant association between coffee intake and GERD symptoms.

However, there is evidence that certain foods such as citrus, liquor, and carbonated beverages may worsen reflux symptoms in some people, according to the Current Opinion in Gastroenterology.

Foods you should add to your diet with acid reflux

While it is unclear whether there are foods you should completely eliminate from your diet, we do know what foods you should be eating if you have reflux. For example, we know that you should eat a healthy and balanced diet that is not full of process foods that could add unwanted weight. Whole grains, lean meats, and lots of fruits and vegetables should make up the majority of your diet.

While there is no evidence to suggest people with reflux avoid entire food groups, no matter what, it's still possible to track your own personal triggers. Keeping a journal of what foods work for you and what foods make your reflux symptoms worse can be extremely helpful. If your reflux symptoms are severe or frequent, it is important that you see your doctor for evaluation and treatment.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.