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Ask the Diva: Can an Alkalizing Diet Cure Reflux?

The key to understanding which foods can help you is understanding acid reflux itself. Nutrition Diva explains.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
September 4, 2012

Q. I am beginning to have problems with acid reflux and I have read that eating more alkalizing foods can cure reflux. Can you give me some examples of alkalizing foods that will rebalance my body’s pH?

A. This question reflects a couple of very wide-spread misunderstandings that I would love the opportunity to clear up! First of all, eating foods that contain acid doesn’t significantly change the amount of acid in your stomach. That’s because most of the acid in your stomach doesn’t come from the foods you eat but from special “parietal” cells in the stomach.

More to the point, reflux or GERD is not caused by too much stomach acid. It’s caused by stomach acid in the wrong place—namely, outside the stomach. If certain foods, such as tomatoes or coffee, trigger your heartburn, it’s not because they are acidic but because they tend to relax the muscle that is in charge of keeping stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs. 

(For other things that can contribute to GERD and some ways to combat reflux without drugs, see my episode on reflux.)

Finally, eating alkalizing foods won’t “rebalance your body’s pH” because—unless you’re writing to me from a hospital bed—I can assure you that your body’s pH is perfectly balanced, regardless of what you had for lunch today. That’s not to say that alkaline foods aren’t a good idea. Most vegetables and fruits are considered alkaline foods and there are lots of good reasons to eat them!

See also: The Low-Down on the Acid/Alkaline Diet Theory
 

pH photo from Shutterstock

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