A chilled cocktail or a cold beer might be the perfect way to relax and unwind on a warm summer evening. But for those with acid reflux, enjoying a drink can be a challenging experience. Acid reflux is a condition that causes stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, leading to symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, burping, and sore throat.
If you have acid reflux, you might wonder if you can still enjoy alcoholic beverages without triggering your symptoms. In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and recommendations to help you enjoy your favorite drinks without compromising your health.
If you have acid reflux, choose low-acidic drinks like gin, tequila, non-grain vodkas, and light-bodied beers and wines. Mix them with low-acidic juices, drink in moderation, avoid triggers, and time your drinks correctly to reduce your risk of experiencing symptoms.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused when the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), fails to close properly. This allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, leading to symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and sore throat. Certain foods and beverages can worsen acid reflux symptoms, including spicy foods, high-fat foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
Does Alcohol Cause Acid Reflux?
Alcoholic beverages can affect acid reflux and GERD symptoms, but not every drink is the same. Given the varying levels of alcohol in each spirit, wine, or beer, your symptoms could be exacerbated by the alcohol by volume (ABV) level. For example, light beers and wines like Moscato with an ABV of around 5% may help curb acid reflux due to being light-bodied beverages, while more vital spirits like whiskey and Scotch could worsen your symptoms.
Light beers and wines like Moscato with an ABV of around 5% may help curb acid reflux due to being light-bodied beverages
Research on alcohol and acid reflux is somewhat mixed. Some studies suggest that alcohol can increase stomach acidity, which can worsen acid reflux symptoms. Other studies have shown that some alcoholic beverages, like red wine, may actually increase resistance to acidity in the esophageal lining.
It’s important to note that each person’s experience with acid reflux can vary, and what triggers symptoms for one person may not for another.
While research on the relationship between alcohol and acid reflux is somewhat mixed, some studies suggest that alcohol can increase acidity in the stomach, leading to more severe acid reflux symptoms. However, the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person, and some alcoholic beverages like red wine may actually increase resistance to acidity in the esophageal lining.
What Type of Drinks Are More Likely to Cause Acid Reflux?
While alcohol content can play a role in acid reflux symptoms, other factors can also impact your experience. Certain types of drinks and ingredients can trigger acid reflux symptoms. Here are some drinks and ingredients to avoid if you have acid reflux:
- Citrus cocktails and juices: Drinks made with citrus juices like lemons, limes, and grapefruits can trigger acid reflux symptoms due to their high acidity levels.
- Ciders: Ciders are made with apples, which can also be high in acidity and trigger acid reflux symptoms.
- White wines: White wines are often high in acidity and can cause acid reflux symptoms.
- Peppermint and chocolate: Peppermint and chocolate are common ingredients in many alcoholic drinks, but they can also trigger acid reflux symptoms.
- Spicy ingredients: Drinks made with spicy ingredients like chili powder, hot sauce, or Tajin can trigger acid reflux symptoms.
Alcohol can have a direct effect on the esophagus, causing inflammation and irritation that can worsen acid reflux symptoms.Dr. Michael Sicard, CEENTA otolaryngologist
Best Drinks for Acid Reflux Sufferers
If you have acid reflux, you don’t have to give up alcohol entirely. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your favorite drinks without triggering your symptoms:
Choose Low-Acidic Drinks
Choosing low-acidic drinks can help reduce your risk of experiencing acid reflux symptoms. Here are some low-acidic drinks that you can enjoy:
- Gin and tequila: These spirits have lower acidity levels than other types of alcohol, making them a good choice for those with acid reflux.
- Non-grain vodkas: Vodkas made from non-grain sources like potatoes or grapes are also low in acidity.
- Light beers and wines: Light-bodied beers and wines like Moscato and pinot grigio are lower in alcohol and acidity, making them a good choice for those with acid reflux.
Mix with Low-Acidic Juices
If you’re a fan of mixed drinks, try mixing your spirits with low-acidic juices like apple, pear, or cranberry. These juices are less likely to trigger acid reflux symptoms than citrus juices like orange or grapefruit. You can also add soda water or seltzer to your mixed drinks to dilute the alcohol and reduce the risk of symptoms.
Moderation is Key
Regardless of the alcohol level, acidity, or flavor, overconsumption of alcohol can demonstrably affect your acid reflux among other health-related symptoms. Enjoying your drinks in moderation is important to reduce your risk of experiencing symptoms. Drink plenty of water and avoid drinking on an empty stomach, as this can worsen acid reflux symptoms.
In addition to choosing low-acidic drinks, avoiding drinks and ingredients that are known triggers for acid reflux is important. Avoid drinks made with citrus juices, ciders, white wines, peppermint, chocolate, and spicy ingredients. Greasy, high-fat foods can also trigger acid reflux, so it’s best to avoid them while drinking.
Timing is Everything
Finally, timing is everything when it comes to enjoying alcohol with acid reflux. Avoid drinking within two to three hours of bedtime, as lying down with a full stomach can increase your risk of experiencing symptoms. It’s also important to stay upright after drinking, as this can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus.
If you have acid reflux, you don’t have to give up alcohol entirely. You can enjoy your favorite beverages without triggering your symptoms by choosing low-acidic drinks, mixing with low-acidic juices, drinking in moderation, avoiding triggers, and timing your drinks correctly. Remember to listen to your body and know your limits when it comes to drinking and acid reflux symptoms. With the right approach, you can still enjoy a drink with friends or unwind after a long day without compromising your health.