A person with acid reflux, or heartburn, might feel a burning, often painful sensation in their throat and chest. Drinking water, low fat milk, and herbal teas may help reduce symptoms.

Acid reflux, or heartburn, occurs when stomach acid flows up into a person’s esophagus, or food pipe. It is common for people to experience acid reflux intermittently.

However, if a person consistently experiences acid reflux, they may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

In this article, we cover the drinks that people can prioritize and avoid to reduce acid reflux symptoms.

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Avoiding the drinks and foods that cause the symptoms is the best way to evade the effects of acid reflux. However, some drinks may help reduce acid reflux symptoms.

Ginger tea

Ginger can help reduce symptoms of many gastrointestinal complaints, including:

Studies show that ginger eases pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and improves gastric emptying. Without a reduction of this pressure, the risk of the sphincter failing increases, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the food pipe.

In addition, ensuring a person’s stomach empties effectively can reduce the amount of stomach acid present in the upper digestive tract.

Drinking ginger tea can help a person get more ginger into their diet and provide a warm, soothing sensation. Ginger ale is less likely to help because of carbonation and because it sometimes contains caffeine. Most commercial ginger ale sodas also do not contain enough ginger to have a positive effect.

Learn more about the health benefits of ginger here.

Fruit and vegetable juices

Highly acidic fruit juices can irritate the mucus membrane of the food pipe. This can worsen acid reflux symptoms.

However, low acid fruit and vegetables often contain natural compounds that may reduce acid reflux. Eating and drinking these fruits and vegetables may be beneficial to some people.

Good choices for juicing include:

Learn more about diets for GERD here.

Low fat milk

Foods and drinks with high fat content, such as whole milk, can worsen symptoms of GERD. So, low fat and plant-based milks can be good options.

Some plant-based milks, such as almond milk, are also alkaline. This can help to neutralize stomach acid.

Learn more about the benefits of almond milk here.

Water

Water can help with digestion and is integral to the proper working of the body. Staying adequately hydrated can ensure the proper passing of food through the gastrointestinal system, reducing the frequency of post-meal acid reflux.

A small 2016 study reported that water with a hydrogen carbonate supplement can also help reduce symptoms of heartburn and GERD.

Certain beverages pose a particularly high risk of triggering acid reflux. Managing the symptoms of acid reflux mainly involves learning and avoiding the triggers.

Alcohol

A 2018 research review found an association between the increase in alcohol consumption and frequency of drinking and GERD.

Alcohol damages mucus in the lining of the gastric system and impairs esophagus contractions. Both of these factors can increase acid reflux.

Learn more about alcohol and heartburn here.

Citrus juices

Juices made from citrus fruits, like oranges or grapefruits, are highly acidic, which can worsen acid reflux.

Compounds in citrus fruits may also reduce the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and delay gastric emptying.

Carbonated beverages

Several studies found an association between drinking carbonated beverages and an increased risk of GERD, according to a 2021 review. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) also recommends that people avoid carbonated drinks to reduce acid reflux and GERD.

However, research is not conclusive on the role that carbonated drinks play in acid reflux. For example, a 2017 study found no association between their consumption and GERD symptoms.

Caffeinated beverages

The NIDDK recommends people with acid reflux eliminate coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages from their diets. However, a 2019 study found no association between tea and coffee drinking and reflux symptoms.

Find out more about caffeine and GERD here.

Acid reflux occurs when the valve that connects the stomach to the food pipe, weakens. When this happens, stomach acid flows back into the food pipe.

Because stomach acid is an irritant, it can cause inflammation in the food pipe, which can cause discomfort.

Symptoms

Symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • sour taste in the mouth
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chest pain
  • sore throat
  • hoarse voice
  • dry cough
  • feeling as if there is a lump in the throat
  • regurgitating food or acid

Acid reflux is usually a mild but uncomfortable symptom of GERD. Other people have more serious symptoms of GERD that interfere with daily function.

Learn more about the differences between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD here.

Causes

Some medical conditions increase the risk of severe GERD symptoms, including:

If a person experiences regular and severe episodes of acid reflux or heartburn, it is important for them to contact a doctor, as it might develop into a more serious condition.

Other self-care measures that can help manage acid reflux and other symptoms of GERD include:

Medications

Several medications are available over the counter for heartburn and other symptoms of GERD.

These include:

  • antacids that neutralize stomach acid, such as Gaviscon or Tums
  • H2 receptor blockers can decrease acid production in the stomach for up to 12 hours
  • proton pump inhibitors that block acid production for long enough to enable the food pipe to heal

When to call a doctor

Acid reflux, though uncomfortable, can be highly treatable.

People may manage acid reflux at home with some lifestyle changes and the avoidance of triggers. Severe symptoms of GERD may require medication or, in rare cases, surgery.

If an individual has severe or frequent symptoms of acid reflux, their doctor can help rule out other conditions. It is especially important to get medical attention if someone thinks they might be experiencing acid reflux or any other symptoms of GERD.

These symptoms may indicate a more serious health problem, such as a heart attack.

Acid reflux can be uncomfortable, but will typically resolve independently. However, diet changes may help reduce symptoms of acid reflux in some cases.

Drinks such as ginger tea, certain fruit and vegetable juices, and plant-based milks may benefit people experiencing acid reflux and heartburn.

Avoiding citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and alcohol can also help to reduce symptom frequency and severity.