9 Drinks to Avoid With Acid Reflux

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes different symptoms in different people. It can take time to figure out what lifestyle modifications work well for you. That said, some foods and drinks are more likely to trigger reflux symptoms than others. Avoiding the following drinks may be a good place to start when trying to feel your best while living with acid reflux.

Various diner milkshake flavors.
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High fat drinks

When scientists look at how diet impacts acid reflux, the results can be conflicting. However, there are several research studies that have shown that intake of high fat foods and beverages is linked to worsening GERD symptoms. Therefore, it might be best for you to avoid fatty drinks such as milkshakes or alcoholic drinks made with cream and liqueur if you have reflux.

Woman toasting with alcohol.
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Alcoholic beverages

Moderation seems to be key when it comes to consuming alcohol if you have acid reflux. Stopping alcohol consumption does not seem to improve acid reflux symptoms for most. However, research shows that drinking alcohol above the recommended U.S. dietary guidelines significantly increases the risk of esophageal cancer. The dietary guidelines recommend not exceeding one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Glass of soda.
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Soft drinks

Carbonated beverages should be avoided if you have reflux. During a reflux episode, stomach acid may enter the esophagus and the mouth exposing the teeth to stomach acid. Over time, this exposure to stomach acid could damage the teeth. Drinking sugary, carbonated beverages can also be a strong risk factor for dental erosion. Combining the two can spell trouble for your dental health.

Coffee with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream on top.
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High calorie drinks

Weight gain has been associated with increased reflux symptoms, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. An iced blended mocha coffee drink with caramel syrup and whipped cream can add a quick 500 calories to your day with little nutritional value. Drinking high calorie drinks throughout the week can quickly put on unwanted pounds, contributing to reflux.

Bloody Mary and celery sticks.
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Spicy drinks

In one survey of patients with GERD symptoms, 88 percent of respondents listed spicy foods as a cause of heartburn. Spicy drinks such as Bloody Marys and Mexican hot chocolate are best avoided if you have acid reflux.

Margaritas and lime.
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Salty drinks

Consuming extra salt has been associated with increased reflux symptoms. Avoiding margaritas served in a salt-rimmed glass, for example, is a good idea.

Mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.
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Chocolate drinks

Chocolate is frequently blamed for an increase in acid reflux symptoms. Hot chocolate, chocolate milk, and chocolate liqueurs may make your reflux worse.

Mug of coffee and coffee beans.
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Coffee

There is conflicting evidence about how different coffees and their preparations can affect GERD symptoms. Drinking coffee may bother some people with reflux, but not everyone. However, remember that coffee is considered acidic, so if you already have irritation in your esophagus, there is a good chance drinking coffee may make you feel worse. Some teas may help.

Grapefruit juice.
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Citrus juices

According to the American Medical Association, citrus fruits are often associated with heartburn symptoms. In a survey of approximately 400 individuals with GERD, 72 percent reported increased heartburn after drinking either orange or grapefruit juice.

Woman drinking beer while laughing.
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Whatever you choose, drink slowly

Avoiding this list of drinks may help you to reduce your reflux symptoms. And no matter what you choose to drink, it’s important to do so slowly. In fact, consuming food quickly has been shown to increase reflux episodes even in healthy people. Drinking slowly is one easy lifestyle modification you can make that may reduce your reflux symptoms.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. 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.