Modern lifestyles and diets have led to an increasing number of people suffering from acid reflux and its painful symptom, heartburn.
People with this condition often follow a diet low in acidic foods and drinks to avoid triggering or worsening their symptoms, which can be debilitating for some. Such a diet requires followers to know the acidity of common foods and how each affects their symptoms. This allows them to manage their symptoms by limiting their intake of some foods or avoiding them altogether.
Even if you don't suffer from acid reflux, eating too many acidic foods may lead to lower bone density, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Below, I've listed 20 acidic foods that often trigger or worsen acid reflux symptoms.
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With a pH of around 2, lemon is among the most acidic foods.
Although delicious, the citric acid in lemons can irritate your esophagus and stomach, triggering or worsening acid reflux symptoms. However, despite being acidic, lemons have an alkalizing effect once metabolized.
Most cheeses are acidic, with a pH ranging from 4 to 6, and even less-acidic cheeses should be eaten in moderation.
All sodas are highly acidic; for example, Coca-Cola has a pH of 2.3, Diet Coca-Cola 3.2, and Cherry Coca-Cola 2.5.
Many are high in sugar too, which can worsen acid reflux symptoms.
Bacon is acidic, and most sufferers of acid reflux should limit their intake.
Although its pH is between 5.20 and 6.12, once digested, bacon becomes acidic. The longer you cook it, the more likely it is to upset your stomach, as overcooking produces substances that irritate your digestive tract, leading to inflammation.
It's also high in fat, which can worsen your acid reflux and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Like most processed meats, the ham may trigger acid reflux symptoms.
Although the pH of ham is around 5.90-6.10, it contains a lot of sodium and sugar, which are acid-forming.
All apples are acidic, not just sour-tasting varieties like Granny Smith.
The pH of apples varies with variety, but most are between 3 and 4.
7. Refried Beans
They don't taste sour, but surprisingly, refried beans are acidic, with a pH of 5.9. Beans also have a tendency to be acid-forming when metabolized.
Bananas are a great source of potassium, but they're also acidic. They may taste sweet but have a pH between 4.5 and 5.2.
Everybody loves a donut, but they're quite acidic. Despite the palatable taste, donuts are high in sugar and fat, which can worsen acid reflux, and contain very few nutrients.
Although cucumbers are more alkaline, pickles are acidic. Store-bought pickles contain a lot of vinegar and additives that can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
Naturally fermented pickles may be kinder on your stomach and may help improve digestion and overall gut health by providing good bacteria.
Tomatoes and tomato products are acidic. Fresh tomatoes have a pH of 4.3 to 4.9, while canned are more acidic, with a pH of 3.5. Tomato soup is also acidic.
Although honey is sweet, it's also acidic, with a pH of around 3.2, depending on where it was produced. However, honey has an alkalizing effect when metabolized, and it is an excellent alternative to sugar when making tea to relieve heartburn.
Like all citrus fruits, grapefruit is acidic, with a pH of 3 to 3.75. Grapefruit juice is more acidic than fresh, with a pH of 2.9.
Originating in China, kiwifruit is acidic, with a pH of 3.1 to 3.4, and is likely to aggravate acid reflux symptoms in some people.
Whether fresh or pre-minced, garlic is acidic, with a pH of 5.8, so although it's a healthy addition to your diet, it may trigger your acid reflux.
Oatmeal doesn't taste sour, but with a pH of around 5.2, it's acidic. Most grains are acidic, but they're all good for you. Oats and other grains form acid when metabolized, which may aggravate your GERD symptoms.
As eggs and dairy foods are acidic, so is custard. Varieties lower in fat and sugar are less likely to cause problems for those with acid reflux.
Chickpeas are acidic, and the pH of hummus is 5.5, so it's slightly acidic.
However, it's one of the healthiest dips and a great dietary addition if you can tolerate its acidity.
Pasta is one of the world's most popular foods, and although it's only slightly acidic, it's acid-forming. White pasta is particularly bad for acid reflux, as it irritates your stomach.
20. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments, but it's acidic, with a pH of around 5.
It contains ten other organic acids, including succinic and lactic, and is likely to trigger acid reflux symptoms. However, since most do not consume soy sauce in huge amounts, it does not often trigger heartburn.
Nevertheless, the appearance of symptoms still depends on one's tolerance levels.
Don't know what to drink? Check out these articles: 20 Most and Least Acidic Juices and 20+ Alcoholic Drinks Ranked by Acidity Level