Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure | Blog

This blog is a companion to Dropping Acid and it allows us to continually publish new material.

Water Water Everywhere, But Nothing Left to Drink

Over the past decade, specialty drinks such as enhanced teas, exotic juices, flavored waters, “superfood,” probiotic and sports drinks, have become popular alternatives to traditional carbonated soft drinks.. Unfortunately, most of these new beverages are just as acidic; and thus, just as unsuitable for refluxers as their predecessors. This is not good news. So what can a refluxer drink?

We hope that readers of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure (and of this blog) already know that soft drinks (all carbonated beverages), bottled or not, are bad for reflux and most every other bottled thing is NOT okay either. It is the acid that is added to kill pathogenic bacteria and prolong shelf-life.

So, what can a refluxer drink? Our first advice is to read labels carefully and avoid the acids. If you’re going to control your reflux, you are going to have to learn to read labels and look out for ascorbic acid, acetic acid, citric acid, “vitamin C enhanced,” and “100% Vitamin C.”  These are all code words for VERY ACIDIC!

How We Did the Testing (Materials & Methods): With hundreds of drink choices on the market, and seemingly more and more appearing every week, it is beyond our capacity to test the pH (acidity) of every variety and every drink brand. What we did do is test the most available drinks with an eye towards beverages refluxers might possibly be able to drink. We did not test carbonated, caffeinated, or chocolate-flavored drinks, because we already know these beverages are bad for refluxers.

Teas

More than one cup a day of caffeinated beverages, like coffee, green and black teas are not okay on The Reflux Diet. Some herbal teas, like chamomile, are terrific. Beware of other herbal teas. Though many herbal teas are good, we found that herbal teas infused with a fruit flavor are extremely acidic (as low as pH 2.8). Anything infused with orange, raspberry, lemon, or other citric flavor should be a red flag. As for the variety of bottled teas on the market, refluxer stay away. None that we tested had an acceptable pH for The Reflux Diet.

Bottled Smoothies

We are big advocates of homemade, pH-balanced smoothies, but what about those bottled smoothies that are so easy to grab in the grocery store? Well, the answer is some are acceptable and some are not. As you can guess, anything with a citric-fruit base is bad. Of the rest, vanilla flavored, high-protein drinks seem to be best.

Slim-fast Vanilla and Slim-fast Strawberry N Crème are both great (pH 6.9 and pH 6.8 respectively), as is Odwalla’s Vanilla Monster Protein Drink (pH 5.8) while Naked’s Green Machine (pH 4) and Odwalla’s Superfood Juice (pH 3.9) might seem okay but are bad.

Specialty Waters

Specialty waters, in most cases, are vitamin enhanced and not okay because the vitamin enhancement adds acid. A few exceptions exist. We have found that all tested brands of coconut water with no acids added are above pH 4.7, for instance, and unflavored Pedialyte is pH 5.4 and therefore, acceptable. With specialty waters especially, check the labels and look out for acids. Specialty waters that seem innocent (Vitamin Water, pH 3.1 – 3.6; Hint Unsweetened Essence Water, pH 3.9) can be deceptively acidic.

Probiotic Drinks

Probiotic drinks, like kombucha and kefir, are too acidic. Always steer clear.  If you need probiotics, take the pills.

Bottled Juices

The rule with bottled juices is fruit juices are not okay and with vegetable juices you must be wary. A case in point is two carrot juices we tested. Odwalla Carrot Juice is all natural and pH 6.3; however, Ralph & Charlie’s Everyday Carrot Beverage was pH 3.9. Looking at the two bottles side by side, you would not notice a difference in appearance. Only when analyzing the label would you see that Ralph & Charlie’s Everyday Carrot Beverage is enhanced with acids and other preservatives and flavorings.

SHOWN HERE (BELOW) IS THE APPROVED LIST OF BEVERAGES THAT REFLUXERS CAN DRINK

Brand Description pH
Slim-fast Low Carb Vanilla 6.9
Slim-fast Strawberry N Creme 6.8
Traditional Medicinals Herb Tea: Echinacea Plus 6.4
Odwalla Carrot juice 6.3
Twinings Pure Chamomile 6.2
Traditional Medicinals Herb Tea: Organic Breathe Easy 6
The Republic of Tea Rooibos 5.9
Odwalla Vanilla monster protein drink 5.8
Twinings China Oolong 5.8
Adagio Rooibos: Organic Vanilla 5.6
Traditional Medicinals Herb Tea: Organic Gypsy Cold 5.5
Pedialyte Unflavored 5.4
Traditional Medicinals Dandelion Root 5.3
Bigelow Constant Comment 5.2
VitaCoCo 100% Natural Coconut Water 5.2
Bigelow Toffee 5
Naked Plain 5
Naked 100% Natural Coconut Water 5
Naked Protein Zone 4.9
Odwalla Original Super Protein 4.8
Bigelow Apple Cider Tea 4.8
Zico 100% Natural Coconut Water 4.7

Click here for a complete list of beverages tested


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38 Comments

  1. Is it the Slim fast “low-carb” vanilla shake you are refering to or the “French Vanilla” shake? There is no “just” vanilla shake. I really want to try this since all I drink is water and milk at this point.
    Thanks!

    • Both the “low-carb” vanilla shake and the “French Vanilla” shake are pH 6.9.

      • I think this is very important….Both the slim fast vanilla and strawberries and creme rtd shakes have citric acid in them. In the book you advise to steer clear of any products with this ingredient. What gives?

  2. I dont see Licorice tea on that list (particulary Alvita brand and Licorice tea in general). There’s a lot of information online that Licorice tea can help acid reflux sufferers. Can you please confirm this? What’s the right amount of intake per day?

    Please advice thanks.

    • Licorice is great for people with reflux, so enjoy it as much as you like! As for curative properties, we haven’t seen enough evidence.

  3. Have you tested any of the gatorade drinks? The book lists just the Fruit Punch as bad for acid reflux. Are they all bad for acid reflux as well?

  4. For those of you who live in the pacific NW, I found a great carrot juice made by Columbia Gorge it is pure carrot juice (no acids) and its organic!

  5. Which of the drinks you tested are high in calories along with having a ph level over 5? I need added calories in my diet and would love to know which ones would be a good option.

    It seems like the Odwalla Vanilla Protein Monster is decent so far coming in at 290 calories.

    • Yes, the Odwalla Vanilla Protein Monster is a good option, as is Naked’s Protein Zone. Slim-fast also has two drinks that have a pH above 6: Strawberry N Cream and Low Carb Vanilla.

  6. http://www.evamor.com/

    This is a local water with a low ph that comes directly from an aquifer and does not hit air until you open the bottle. I think you can order it off the web site to be shipped directly to your home. Check it out!

  7. What can I take for extra fiber instead of drinking the orange flavored Metamucil? Thanks for your response.

    • Fiber supplements shouldn’t be a problem for most people with reflux, just as long as the powder doesn’t contain added acids. Check the label to be sure!

  8. Is there a way that I could test the pH of my favorite drinks at home? I live in a small town that doesn’t offer many of the items on your list. Also, I would like test the difference between a traditionally brewed cup of coffee and a “cold brewed” cup, which I’ve heard is much less acidic.

    I have never tried The Reflux Diet, this whole concept is new to me even though I’ve had GERD for over 10 years now, but I don’t know if I can give up coffee.

  9. I got an advice that natural Chinese Green Tea works for Acid Reflux ut after reading the post, I’m not quite sure if it works. Any ideas?

  10. What a great site! As someone new to LPR and likes to have a post workout, shake, have you ever rated the rtd protien shakes (muscle milk, myoplex, etc…)? My old favorite mix has way too much ascorbic acid in it so I know that wont work so any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Thanks for the list! I drink mostly tulsi herbal tea, which is in the basil family. They have plain, herbal and fruity flavors. I guess that the fruity flavors are acidy, but do you have an idea about the herbal flavors like original, honey chamomile, licorice or jasmine? Thanks

  12. Hi, I almost forgot-I drink a green smoothie or green juice (both homemade) every morning. I tend to use leafy greens plus cucumber, celery, green or red apple and some lemon. Could you recommend other combinations? Thank

  13. One day into my diagnosis of LPR and making a shopping list! I read in my Dr’s handout from your book of best foods that apple juice is acceptable. My question: Is Apple Cider acceptable as well?

  14. Thank you for this list. I was diagnosed with GERD a few months ago and have been looking for something besides water to drink. I found Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Tea. It is only in the stores during the holiday season so now would be the best time to look for it. Using pH test strips it seems to be about in the 6-7 range. I put a little agave in it.

    I really miss having a cup of hot chocolate – any idea if dutch processed cocoa powder can be used or is all forms of chocolate off limits?

    Thank you.

  15. How about alkaline water at 9.5pH? I drink it for my heartburn and it seems to be helping with immediate relief. I would imagine the mechanism is the same as with any other non-acidic juice or food but I am wondering if Dr. Koufman has a particular view on this. Thank you.

  16. How about substitute coffees? I’m recently diagnosed with this disease and switched to INKA, an instant drink of ground barley and rye, it’s close enought to coffee to be satisying.

    • It sounds like this would a fine coffee substitute, but it’s probably still wise to use some moderation.

  17. How about Anise seeds tea? It’s commonly used in some places in Latin America as a digestive tea. Could you check the pH levels of if and if it makes it a safe drink? There is another herb also used in Latin America called “Baccharis articulata” (that’s its scientific name) commonly known as Jaguar’s Herb. It’s commonly also used for digestive ailments, which makes it interesting to see the PH level of such an herb when drank as an infusion or tea. Thanks, and I look forward to more information.

    • Anise is fine both as a tea and as a seasoning. As for Baccharis articulata, we haven’t tested it yet!

  18. Thanks for such an informative site and excellent book. You mention coffee (caffeinated), budrt what are your guidelines on decaf?

    • Decaf coffee is still acidic, so we have the same recommendation as regular coffee–one cup per day with some food.

  19. I really enjoy my wine, but the cookbook says stay away. I am a silent reflux patient (I think) — at least my ent says I do since all other atempts to stop my cough and hoarseness failed. What do you recommend is acceptable drink before dinner and with dinner?

    • Once you are in the Maintenance phase, one drink with dinner (but not on an empty stomach) is acceptable. White wine and beer are particularly bad, because they are acidic. Some of patients find that one glass of red wine in OK. Hard alcohol like vodka and whiskey is actually not acidic, but then most mixers are. If there’s something you can enjoy on the rock a twist of lemon, that’s probably your best option. But remember, more than one alcoholic drink will cause reflux by relaxing the esophageal sphincter to relax.

  20. I have been diagnosed with both chronic sinusitis and GERD and recently had the sinus DNC of which the relief lasted only a couple of months. I have severe esophogeal erosion. I have cut out so many of my normal foods,I don’t have any pleasure in food and drink anymore. I drink a lot of herbal teas.Can you tell me which of the Celestial Seasons teas beside the Gingerbread,mentioned above may be acceptable?I cough up crap all the time and it is extremely embarrassing and I have heard it causes addition esophogeal damage. Any help you can give will be deeply appreciated. Thanks.

  21. The greatest service you could do for the reflux sufferers is to inform us how to test PH levels at home. Remember chemistry class with the PH strips? Is there any reason why testing teas, soups, (actually, just about anything that could be blended up) with a PH strip wouldn’t work for us at home? We could carry strips out to eat and test soups etc off the menu! Life would suddenly open up for us. I am surprised to not find any advise on this from your group. It seems so simple. Where does one find PH strips outside of a high school chem lab?

    • We use an electronic pH to do our testing, which are available on Amazon if you are interested in doing your own testing at home.

  22. Hi! I’m just starting the induction diet and one of the things I’m finding challenging is a complete absence of condiments and spreads. I know that butter, shortening, margarine, etc. are out. What about smart balance? It’s made from a blend of oils (palm fruit, soybean, canola, and olive). Beyond that, water, salt, crushed soy beans, soy lecithin and, as the last and therefore smallest, ingredient, lactic acid.

    If not, any other suggestions? Thanks!

    • We know the very low-fat aspect of the Induction diet is a challenge, but it’s really best to stick it out with just the “best foods” list for the first two weeks. Once you reach the Maintenance phase, butter and margarine are fine in moderation.

  23. I had cut back to water, camomile tea, ginger tea, and occasionally milk. These were the only drinks that I had for about 6 months. I have recently discovered that Bolthouse Farms smoothies seem to be an alternative option for me. They are gluten free, no preservatives… etc. I really enjoy the flavor, but I am still cautious about the types of smoothies to drink. So far the Strawberry Banana and the Mango are my “go to” drinks. I like that they are a little more filling. Maybe someone else will find these options tolerable. I’ve also switched to Bolthouse yogurt dressing on my salad. Delicious.

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