Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure | Blog

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Navigating the Grocery Store if You Suffer from Acid Reflux

This guest post written by Maggie Badore, staff writer for dietsinreview.com; see her article here.

I have been undergoing treatment for acid reflux for about two months, with the guidance of Dr. Jamie Koufman, one of the authors of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure. Like many people who suffer from heartburn, I had a pretty clear idea of my worst trigger foods before seeking medical attention. Coffee, citrus, alcohol and tomato sauce all had me reaching for the Tums.

What I learned from Dr. Koufman is that acid as a food additive is also a contributor to reflux. Acid is added to foods because it prevents the growth of bacteria, but few consumers are aware of the potentially negative consequences of this practice. Things containing ascorbic acid, citric acid, and acetic acid should all be avoided by people suffering from reflux. You should also look out for foods and beverages that are “vitamin C enriched” or “vitamin C enhanced,” which is usually done through the addition of citric acid.

Added acid will always appear on the ingredients list. “In the beginning, think like you are learning a new language,” says Dr. Koufman. “You need to start looking at labels and you should know which foods are unacceptable based upon the acidity and fat content.” It’s best to buy organic poultry, because it will have a lower fat content.

Once you start examining labels you will find that many, many processed foods have added acid, from candy and soups to frozen dinners and salad dressing. This may seem daunting at first, but the best thing for people with reflux is to follow the familiar advice of shopping at the edges of the grocery store. This means buying mostly whole foods, particularly veggies, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Of course, you will still need to avoid citrus and tomatoes, plus whatever foods are triggers for you.

Another great option is to skip the grocery store all together and check out your local farmer’s market. This can be a great way to discover local produce, and you will often find fresher, more flavorful ingredients. Plus, the prepared foods you will find at a farmer’s market are less likely to contain added acid.

Buying more whole foods does generally mean cooking more at home, but there are still a number of healthy and convenient options for days that are too busy for cooking. “I am always buying bananas, and nowadays every Bodega has bananas,” says Dr. Koufman. Sandwiches are a convenient option that can also be purchased ready-made. “My go-to sandwich has always been turkey breast, preferably organic turkey. If there is something in the sandwich, like excessive amounts of mayonnaise, I get a plastic knife and take it off.” She adds that small amounts of fats are okay. Eating a low-fat, low-acid diet has the added benefit of being heart-healthy.

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11 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t recommend just buying a sandwich from anywhere. Most packaged whole grain breads I have found recently, even in the health food store, are preserved with ascorbic acid. So you have to figure most breads from delis, unless made from scratch, are acidic. Refridgerated breads, like Ezekiel’s, are probably better because there are no preservatives. Just my 2 cents.

  2. I was disappointed to find that even many of the fresh baked breads at Whole Foods have ascobic acid in them. One of the few that didn’t was a rye bread, but it wasn’t made with organic wheat flower. I hope this is ok to have instead.

  3. 10 years ago, my acid reflux was becoming debilitating. One nexium capsule in the a.m. (now 40 mg) and avoiding high acid fruits and juices (grapefruit, oranges) and white wine has fixed me up to where I hardly ever think about reflux, much less suffer from it.

  4. Yes, ascorbic acid does hide in many bread products, which is why it’s so important to read the ingredients list. Sounds like your rye bread is a good choice.

  5. What about anti reflux items for vegans? Which alternative milk is better, almond or soy? Is soy yogurt alright? Nutritional yeast is used in place of cheese sometimes and in other recipes. Are all nuts bad? Almond butter, cashews? Have you ever though about working on a cookbook with the plant strong people? Forks over knives, engine 2 and happy herbivore. I assume vegan alternative meat items are off limits? Vegan hot dogs, bacon, etc. What about tempeh, textured soy protein? Have many people had the surgery to fix their stomachs? How does that influence your diet?

  6. I was wondering if I can drink teeccinoalmond instead of coffee it is an herbal coffee. It does not contain any acid?

  7. Are all fruits except bananas acidic? I was told that strawberries, raspberries and blueberries were OK. For a short time I had the sensation of a lump in my throat and did choke one time. I have difficulty swallowing but don’t get heartburn. Do I need to avoid dairy products?

  8. is coconut milk okay on the acid free diet?

  9. Why hasn’t anyone responded to the questions above?? They are from several months ago.

  10. The lump in the throat feeling is bad. I had it too, and got scoped and found out I have Barrets Esophagus. Im taking Protonix for 3 months now and stumbled upon The Droping Acid book. The low acid / fat diet helps a lot. My GI doctor is not the greatest. She sees way too many patients and the office is a confusing mess. Nobody ever mentioned to me to eat low acid. The only thing she told me was dont eat fried food or spicy food. Im learning that reflux is very misunderstood and often treated incorrectly too. Do your own research. Good Luck to all.

  11. (I, too, wonder why not more of the above questions have been answered?)
    I actually went to this website because it was referred to in the book DROPPING ACID as a place where I would “find more information on the pH of some common foods”–something I very much want to have in order to plan what to eat. The list in the book is fine but far from complete. I need a list of many more common foods and their acid content! Where can I find such a list?? It seems that it would be a basic and essential tool for refluxers.

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