Which Foods Are Triggering My Acid Reflux?

Nearly everyone can expect to experience an occasional bout of acid reflux. Commonly tagged as “heartburn,” acid reflux occurs when stomach acids wash upward into the esophagus and throat.

Board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo and his team at Hudson River Gastroenterology specialize in diagnosing and treating digestive disorders like acid reflux. Read Dr. Chattoo’s insight regarding acid reflux and which foods may trigger heartburn.

Acid reflux basics

Whether you call it heartburn, indigestion, or a sour stomach, acid reflux can quickly erase the fond memories of a mealtime gathering.

It occurs when acids capable of liquifying the foods you ingest flow (reflux) out of the stomach and into the hollow tube (esophagus) that connects your stomach to your throat.   

Usually, a muscular valve (lower esophageal sphincter/LES) positioned at the lower end of the esophagus opens when you swallow and then closes tightly to prevent stomach contents from refluxing.

If the LES doesn’t close tightly enough, corrosive stomach acids can reflux into the esophagus, causing the heartburn you may feel from your lower chest to your throat.

Factors that increase the risk of LES weakening and acid reflux include:

Although food isn’t usually the only culprit behind acid reflux, it can contribute to the problem and worsen your symptoms. Thus, changes in diet are often a priority in preventing acid reflux and complications such as GERD.   

Foods that may trigger acid reflux

Foods that may trigger acid reflux vary from one individual to another, but common culprits include:

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are notorious for their high acidity. While they bring a burst of vitamin C, their acidic nature can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus and trigger acid reflux symptoms.

Tomatoes and tomato-based products

Tomatoes, whether in their raw form or as part of sauces and ketchup, are acidic and can exacerbate acid reflux. Additionally, they contain high levels of a naturally occurring acid called citric acid, which can contribute to heartburn.

Spicy foods

If you love the heat in your meals, it might be time to reconsider, especially if you suffer from acid reflux. Spicy foods can irritate the esophagus and worsen symptoms. Common culprits include chili peppers, hot sauces, spicy curries, and onions.


While chocolate might be a favorite indulgence for many, it contains both caffeine and theobromine, which can relax the LES and stimulate acid production. For those prone to acid reflux, cutting back on chocolate consumption may bring relief.

Coffee and caffeinated beverages

Caffeine is a known trigger for acid reflux as it can relax the LES. It's not just coffee; other caffeinated beverages like tea and certain sodas can also contribute to digestive discomfort.

Fried and fatty foods

High-fat and fried foods can delay stomach emptying, allowing more time for acid to reflux into the esophagus. French fries, fried chicken, and bacon are all potential culprits that can intensify acid reflux symptoms. Highly processed deli meats such as salami or pepperoni can also contribute.

Mint and peppermint

While mint may be soothing for other digestive issues, it can relax the LES, contributing to acid reflux. This includes peppermint tea and mint-flavored candies or gum.

Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages, including sodas and sparkling water, can introduce gas into the digestive system, increasing pressure on the LES. This pressure can result in the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.

If you’re struggling with acid reflux, we can help. Schedule a visit with Dr. Chattoo at Hudson River Gastroenterology today. Call the office or request an appointment online.

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