What are the foods to avoid for acid reflux?

I am frequently asked about an acid reflux diet. Want to learn what foods to avoid for acid reflux?

There are a number of foods that tend to commonly trigger heartburn & acid reflux, so an acid reflux diet is a key part of my treatment approach with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

Food Triggers of Acid Reflux

foods to avoid for acid reflux like coffee
Most people have heard the conventional wisdom that acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can trigger heartburn.  But there is a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid for acid reflux.  And each trigger has a specific reason.  I help my patients identify these triggers.


Low Acid Diet for GERD & LPR

foods to avoid for acid refluxBeyond the common triggers of acid reflux, many sufferers – especially those with LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux – or “Silent Reflux”) will require a more comprehensive approach. Those with LPR often do very well on a low acid diet. This is a diet that restricts foods tested at lower than a pH of 4. This is because the enzyme pepsin is present in the material that gets refluxed from the stomach.  Pepsin is triggered by stomach acid, AND acid in food.

Stomach Acid (HCl)

stomachThe stomach is an acidic environment – this is very important to its health and proper functioning. The enzyme pepsin is released into the stomach to break down pepsin – but stomach acid (HCl – hydrochloric acid) is required to activate it – pepsin only works in an acidic environment. Stomach acid serves a whole bunch of other important functions – it acts as a sterilizer to get rid of many unwanted bugs in our food that can make us sick, it begins to break protein down, it activates pepsin to further break protein down, and it also is needed to soak certain vitamins and minerals so that they can be absorbed by the body.


When you have reflux, material from the stomach comes back up into the esophagus (your swallowing tube), larynx (voice box) and/or pharynx (area behind mouth & nose).
This material may contain some partially digested food, and also has stomach acid and pepsin mixed in with it. The pepsin can cling to the lining of these structures.
When you eat acidic food, it may activate the pepsin attached to these areas. The pepsin can then actually try to “digest” the lining of your esophagus, pharynx or larynx!!
This may explain many of the symptoms that are associated with LPR.

Comprehensive Dietary Approach

low acid diet for LPR & GERD acid refluxWhen I work with patients who suffer from GERD or LPR we always work on avoiding the key food triggers of acid reflux, but we also typically use a strict low acid diet for at least 3-4 weeks to support healing and repair. Some people are later able to add back in some acidic foods in moderation. Diet is just ONE aspect of a treatment plan for GERD acid reflux or LPR – but it is a KEY one! Learn more about GERD & LPR.