People suffering from acid reflux or GERD often follow a low-acid diet to avoid triggering or worsening unpleasant symptoms like heartburn. These diets can be tricky to design and challenging to follow, as you must know the acidity of common foods and drinks and how each affects your symptoms.
Everyone's symptoms are different, and different people have different symptom triggers that they need to avoid consuming too much of.
However, some foods and drinks cause heartburn in nearly everyone suffering from acid reflux, and alcoholic drinks are some of the worst culprits. But why is this?
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Why Does Beer Give Me Heartburn?
Beer contains alcohol and gas, both of which aggravate acid reflux, leading to heartburn. It's also high in calories, and rapid weight gain can worsen acid reflux.
Is Beer Acidic?
Beer is acidic, with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0, and is also acid-forming, so it may trigger or worsen acid reflux symptoms.
The acidity varies with type, but all are acid-forming, so many on a low-acid diet should strictly limit their intake or avoid beer entirely.
How Does Beer Cause Heartburn?
The alcohol in beer relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and irritates your esophageal lining, leading to heartburn; however, stronger drinks are likely to be worse for acid reflux than beer.
Drinking too much beer can lead to acid reflux, as your stomach can't keep up, and the contents are likely to reflux up your esophagus.
Like any acidic food or drink, beer causes heartburn in healthy people but is much worse for those with GERD.
Is Beer Good for You?
No alcoholic drink is completely healthy, but the occasional beer won't hurt you. Although mostly empty calories, beer contains small amounts of niacin, riboflavin, choline, and folate.
Other studies show that drinking alcohol occasionally can lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It may also improve your cognition and memory.
However, drinking too much alcohol can lead to organ failure, cognitive impairment, and an increased risk of death. It can also worsen depression and anxiety.
What Type of Beer Is the Easiest for Your Stomach?
Generally, lighter beers are less acidic and easier on your digestive system than darker.
The added ingredients in some beers may worsen your heartburn, so stick to simple beers like a pale ale or lager rather than flavored craft beers.
If you suffer from acid reflux, it's best not to eat or drink anything in the two hours before bed, and this applies to alcohol.