Acid Reflux, Heartburn Home Remedies Using Low-Acid Foods, Diets

Excess stomach acid has long been regarded as the cause of heartburn, acid reflux and other related ailments. Recent research has confirmed that acidic food and beverages may be contributing factors. Home remedies, based on eating low-acidity food works well for some people.

There are also links between acid foods and bone health, diabetes and even heart disease. The low-acid diet to improve bone vitality was first suggested in 1968 by two Americans in The Lancet journal and has been revived recently.

Studies have demonstrated that fruits and vegetables have an acid-neutralizing function and play crucial role in maintaining healthy bones and also helps alleviate the symptoms of heartburn and acid-reflux.

What is acid reflux?
What is acid reflux?. Source: Public Domain

It is odd that the populations in the West, such as those in America, that consume the most dairy foods and cheeses that are rich in calcium, should have the highest bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Whereas in many in Asian countries including Japan, osteoporotic fractures are much less common, despite these people living just as long or longer than people in dairy-rich countries. Many Asians consume very little, or no, calcium-rich dairy products in their normal diet.

The answer appears to be that Americans have a high protein diet and also eat cereal grains, both of which are metabolised to acids. Vegetables and fruits are mostly metabolized to alkaline bicarbonate. The more excess protein people eat beyond the body’s minimum requirements, the more acidic their blood becomes causing leaching of calcium from bones.

The more acid foods that area eaten in their diets - the more alkaline compounds in fruits and vegetables are needed to neutralize the acid. It appears that Americans don't eat enough fruit and vegetables to neutralise the acid produced from the protein and other acidic foods in their diets, including acidic drinks such as sodas and wines.

Bones are a dynamic storage site for Calcium compounds in the blood. When the blood becomes too acid, even to a small degree, Calcium is leached from bones to reduce the acidity. In one study published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 171 men and women, more than 50 years old were treated with bicarbonate or no bicarbonate. The subjects that took the bicarbonate, received amounts equivalent to about 9 servings of vegetables and fruits ever day. These subjects showed much lower levels of calcium lost in the urine, and lower levels of a biochemical marker of bone resorption. The bicarbonate reduced calcium loss.

The benefits of low-acid diets have also been demonstrated to relieve severe reflux symptoms like hoarseness and coughing in patients that did not respond to medications. A recent study of 8 women and12 men and with reflux symptoms were put on a low-acid diet for a fortnight, that eliminated all beverages and food stuffs that has pHs lower than 5 (moderately acidic). At the end of the test period 19 out of 20 patients improved on the low-acid diet, and 3 showed complete elimination of symptoms.

Dr. Koufman, one of the researchers, said that while stomach acid is a problem the real cause of acid reflux for many patients is pepsin, which is a digestive enzyme that can exist in the esophagus. Acid in food and from the stomach can equally lead to damage to the esophagus and reflux symptoms.

Eating low-acid foods re-balances the diet and lowers the acidity in the food reaching the esophagus and stomach. Bottled foods and many processed foods and are particularly acidic because of government requiring high acidity as a preservative, to reduce the risk of botulism and other problems.

To help relieve reflux and heartburn symptoms with home remedies, the researchers suggests people undergo a strict two-week diet with no foods below pH 5. Essentially this means no fruit except bananas and melons, no onions or tomatoes (and all their products, especially sauces and condiments). The diet allows plenty of other vegetables, a variety of whole grains, and protein in the form of skinless poultry or fish. High-alkaline foods should be included such as broccoli (pH 6.2), oatmeal (pH 7.2) and bananas (H 5.6), all of which are particularly helpful in balancing out the acidic foods.

Some foods should be excluded, not because they are acidic but because they are well-known culprits in aggravating the symptom of heartburn and reflux. These banned food include: dairy products, caffeine, high-fat meats, chocolate, fried foods, carbonated beverages, alcohol and all mints . Certain other foods, including nuts, garlic, cucumbers and many highly spiced foods and dishes should also be avoided as they trigger symptoms in some people.

For people who don’t have severe reflux problems, but who have occasional symptoms, the researchers suggests a less-restrictive controlled diet of foods with pHs not below about 4, which allows items like apples, raspberries and yogurt. Grains are good, and almost all the vegetables as well. It is good to avoid anything from a bottle (drinks and sauces) or cans, except water (if you can).

This diet recommendations are nothing extraordinary, and is consistent with many recommendations from various dieticians, medical advice groups and the 'Myplate' food recommendations. Basically the aim is get people to change what they eat to diets rich in whole grains and vegetables and to cut back on fatty foods and meats, particularly processed meats.

Many people with relatively healthy foods in their diet may be getting too much acid from drinks, such as diet soda or citrus juices.

Once people learn the basic principle of low-acid eating, and which foods are acid or alkaline it is relatively easy to devise a personal diet that works. This includes recognising their own particular trigger foods that cause the symptoms. This may take some experiments and trial and error. But once the tests are competed most people find low-acid diets are relatively simple to follow and are not restrictive.

Below are a list of acid and alkaline foods.

Alkaline Foods

High Alkaline
Low Alkaline
Vegetable Juices, Parsley, Raw Spinach, Broccoli, Celery, Garlic, Barley Grass
Carrots, Green Beans, Lima Beans, Beets, Lettuce, Zucchini, Carob
Squash, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Fresh Corn, Mushrooms, Onions, Cabbage, Peas, Cauliflower, Turnip, Beetroot, Potato, Olives, Soybeans, Tofu
Dried Figs, Raisins, Bananas
Dates, Blackcurrant, Grapes, Papaya, Kiwi, Berries, Apples, Pears
Coconut, Sour Cherries, Tomatoes, Oranges, Cherries, Pineapple, Peaches, Avocados, Grapefruit, Mangoes, Strawberries, Papayas, Lemons, Watermelon, Limes
Amaranth, Lentils, Sweetcorn, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat
Breast Milk
Soy Cheese, Soy Milk, Goat Milk, Goat Cheese, Buttermilk, Whey
Hazelnuts, Almonds
Chestnuts, Brazils, Coconut
Flax Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Canola Oil
Herb Teas, Lemon Water
Green Tea
Ginger Tea
Maple Syrup, Rice Syrup
Raw Honey, Raw Sugar

Acid Foods

High Acid
Low Acid
Pickled Vegetables
Pinto Beans, Navy Beans
Sweet Potato, Cooked Spinach, Kidney Beans
Canned Fruit
Blueberries, Cranberries, Bananas, Plums, Processed Fruit Juices
White Rice, White Bread, Pastries, Biscuits, Pasta
Rye Bread, Whole Grain Bread, Oats, Brown Rice
Beef, Pork, Veal, Shellfish, Canned Tuna & Sardines
Fish, Turkey, Chicken, Lamb
Liver, Oysters, Organ Meat
Parmasan, Processed Cheese
Eggs, Camembert, Hard Cheese
Whole Milk, Butter, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Cream, Ice Cream
Peanuts, Walnuts
Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios
Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower Seeds
Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil, Margarine, Lard
Tea (black), Coffee, Beer, Liquor
Wine, Soda/Pop
Artificial Sweeteners
Milk Chocolate, Brown Sugar, Molasses, Jam, Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Mustard, Vinegar
White Sugar, Processed Honey

How acid reflux causes problems after eating some foods
How acid reflux causes problems after eating some foods. Source: Public Domain
Natural home remedies for heart burn
Natural home remedies for heart burn. Source: Public Domain
Home remedies can be very effective for many people
Home remedies can be very effective for many people. Source: Public Domain