Chewing gum may help relieve acid reflux in some people. However, it can also exacerbate symptoms. Its impact on acid reflux can vary from person to person.

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is a common digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

Typically, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) acts as a valve to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. However, in people with acid reflux, the LES may not function properly or relax abnormally, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus.

Chewing gum may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms for some people. For others, chewing gum can make acid reflux worse.

This article discusses the relationship between chewing gum and acid reflux.

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Some healthcare professionals may recommend chewing gum to relieve acid reflux symptoms.

Chewing gum may temporarily relieve acid reflux in some people by increasing saliva production and helping acid clearance.

However, chewing gum can also have negative effects, such as increased air swallowing and relaxation of the LES.

The effects of chewing gum on acid reflux can vary among different people. People with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should consider how their body responds to chewing gum.

If it exacerbates symptoms, people may want to avoid it or try different varieties of gum that do not contain potential triggers.

Although it varies between people, there may be some benefits of chewing gum for acid reflux. These include:

  • Increased saliva production: Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which can help neutralize stomach acid and reduce acid reflux symptoms. Saliva contains bicarbonate, which acts as a natural acid buffer.
  • Swallowing and clearance of acid: Chewing gum may encourage swallowing in some people. This may help clear acid from the esophagus.
  • Alleviating symptoms: Some people may find that chewing gum temporarily relieves heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms. It may provide a soothing effect and help reduce the discomfort associated with reflux.

Chewing gum may worsen some symptoms of acid reflux. It can do so in the following ways:

  • Increased air swallowing: Chewing gum can cause people to swallow more air, leading to bloating and increased pressure on the stomach. This can potentially trigger or worsen acid reflux symptoms.
  • Relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES): Certain gum flavors or additives, such as peppermint or spearmint, can relax the LES, the muscle that acts as a barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. When the LES relaxes, it can allow stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, exacerbating acid reflux symptoms.
  • Artificial sweeteners and additives: Some chewing gums contain artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol or xylitol, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Does chewing gum increase stomach acid?

Chewing gum itself does not directly increase stomach acid production. In fact, chewing gum can have neutral or even slightly alkaline effects on stomach acid.

When a person chews gum, it stimulates the production of saliva, which is alkaline and can help buffer stomach acid.

Saliva also contains bicarbonate, a natural acid buffer. It can help neutralize stomach acid and maintain a more balanced pH in the digestive system.

The increased saliva production from chewing gum can also help wash away and dilute stomach acid, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms.

There is no single chewing gum recommendation for people with acid reflux. Nearly every type of chewing gum offers advantages and disadvantages.

Additionally, there is little research to suggest which type of chewing gum is best to help relieve acid reflux. To find the best gum, a person may wish to try the following flavors:

Cinnamon-flavored gum

There is little research on the effects of cinnamon on acid reflux. However, some research suggests cinnamon may help reduce symptoms of heartburn.

Some people report that cinnamon worsens their acid reflux symptoms, so a person can speak with a doctor to help identify their triggers for acid reflux.

Peppermint-flavored gum

Peppermint-flavored chewing gum may contain peppermint oil, which can relax the LES, potentially leading to increased acid reflux symptoms.

However, some antacids for acid reflux are also peppermint-flavored and contain small amounts of peppermint oil. A person may find that peppermint-flavored gum alleviates their symptoms of acid reflux.

If they find that it exacerbates their symptoms, they may find other gum flavors more beneficial.

Sugar-free gum

Opting for sugar-free gum may be a good choice because it reduces the risk of tooth decay. However, some artificial sweeteners can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Gum containing bicarbonate

Chewing gum that contains bicarbonate can help neutralize stomach acid and may provide relief for acid reflux symptoms. A person can look for gums that specifically mention bicarbonate as an ingredient.

Gum containing xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free gums. While it generally has no direct impact on acid reflux, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or laxative effects from consuming xylitol.

If someone finds that gum containing xylitol triggers their acid reflux symptoms, it may be best to avoid it.

People can often find relief from acid reflux using a combination of lifestyle strategies and over-the-counter medications. These can include:

  • Avoiding trigger foods and beverages: Foods and drinks that can worsen acid reflux include spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty or fried foods.
  • Adjusting meal size: People may wish to eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large, heavy meals. Eating at least 3 hours before going to bed can also help.
  • Maintaining a moderate weight: Excess weight can increase pressure on the stomach and contribute to acid reflux.
  • Antacids: These medications can provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
  • H2 blockers: These medications reduce the production of stomach acid and can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These medications reduce acid production and may be recommended for more severe cases of acid reflux.

If a person’s acid reflux symptoms persist or worsen despite lifestyle strategies and over-the-counter remedies, they should seek medical advice.

A healthcare professional can provide a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options based on a person’s specific condition.

The act of chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which can help neutralize stomach acid and wash it away from the esophagus, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux.

However, chewing gum can worsen acid reflux in some people, so people should monitor the effects of gum on their condition.