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ACID REFLUX? Beware of Bottles and Cans

Things are not always what they seem.  If you have acid reflux, there probably is a nasty stomach enzyme, called PEPSIN, attached to your throat, esophagus (swallowing tube), and possibly even to your vocal cords, sinuses, and lungs. This powerful digestive enzyme is the actual cause of tissue damage, but the confusion in “acid” reflux comes from the fact that pepsin requires acid for its activation.

When there is no acid around, the pepsin just waits. But when you drink or eat something acidic, the pepsin springs back into action, and starts digesting your throat, esophagus, etc. That’s right, what you eat may be eating you. The biggest risk factor for reflux in our experience is soda pop, carbonated beverages.

More acidic than stomach acid, these 5 are the most acidic carbonated beverages at pH 2.4-2.5

If you have acid reflux, particularly if you have “airway reflux” or “silent reflux,” you should never drink these acid bombs. BTW, people with airway reflux have hoarseness, chronic cough, trouble with food getting stuck, choking episodes, shortness of breath, asthma, and sinusitis. AND you can have those symptoms from acid reflux without knowing it, because sometimes acid reflux occurs without indigestion or heartburn!  This may be because it happens at night while you sleep of just in small amounts during the day. Silent reflux is often associated with breathing problems.

Carbonated beverages are bad for you for many reasons, but the acidity is the most damaging for many reflux sufferers.  The pH scale is tricky, because lower numbers are more acidic. pH 7 is neutral, that is not acidic at all. Stomach acid is usually pH 1-4. Here’s a surprise though, pH 3 is ten times more acidic than pH 4, and pH 2 is ten times more acidic than pH 3. Thus, pH 2 is 100 times more acidic than pH 4 … and that’s the pH level of stomach acid. Coke and Pepsi (shown here) are pH 2.4-2.5


JUST AS BAD: Five Worst non-sodas, with the same pH as Coke and Pepsi, pH 2.4-2.5.

Today, almost every bottled and canned beverage today is acidic. That is the law !!??!! See The Missing Link post. Since 1973, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has mandated that acid be put in almost everything bottled and canned to kill bacteria and prolong shelf life.

Unintended consequences” …. REALLY! This acid in all of our beverages is a big factor in the reflux epidemic.  It is one of the biggest causes. We recommend that the acidity (pH) of everything be placed on the nutritional label in the future … like soon. Here are some beverages that you probably think are healthy. Guess again, all have a pH of 2.9, that is, less than three!

These five drinks are also very, very acidic, that is pH 2.9 -- AVOID THEM!

Incidentally, why do young people have acid reflux, too these days? The average 12-29-year-old drank 160 gallons of soft drinks last year; that’s almost a half-gallon a day!

And the “common beverage bad news” just keeps on coming; energy drinks like Gatorade are the same … acid, acid, acid. If you have reflux, you are going to have to think about what you drink. The nutritional label will tell you if there is acid inside . Look for ascorbic, acetic, and citric acids; those are the big three. For some alternatives, see Water Water Everywhere But Nothing Left to Drink.  BTW, we drink alkaline water. Good Luck!

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  1. What are some suggested alternatives for someone who drinks Dr. Pepper daily?

  2. Danielle,

    Look at the article regarding bottles and cans .

    I think if you reduce the acid your sleep apnea will improve.


  3. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to re-think your soda habit if you suffer from reflux. Sodas are both very acidic and the carbonation is also bad for reflux. Try making a simple tea with ginger peels and honey or brown sugar, and chilling it.

  4. Dumb question but is bottled water acidic? Thank you

  5. Not a dumb question! We’ve been testing bottled waters and found their pH can vary greatly. We recommend Evamor bottled water, because it has a naturally high pH.

  6. I was at Whole Foods yesterday looking for the Evamor water. They did not have it, but they had one called Essentia. It claims to have a ph of 9.5. Is this a good bottled water for refluxers?

  7. I emailed the good belly people. They say all their drinks are between ph 3.4 and 3.7. Not good for refluxers.

  8. I’ve been drinking seltzer…sometimes flavored seltzer, but not the kind with sugar or sugar substitutes…just water, and a little “natural flavoring.” (Or I’ve been making my own with a seltzer maker) I’ve been drinking it pretty regularly for quite a few years as I was thinking this the answer for me to get some enjoyment out of the soda thing, but without the calories or any “bad” things. It seems seltzer will also aggravate my LPR? Seltzer is bad too?

  9. what about plain seltzer? is that acidic? and how do you tell what the number is?

  10. Plain seltzer should be avoided also, because the carbonation increases the internal pressure of the stomach.

  11. The carbonation in seltzer is bad for any type of reflux, because it increases pressure inside the stomach.

  12. Essentia is a man-made, and we typically like to recommended natural products. Fiji waters are a good alternative if you can’t find Evamor.

  13. Thankyou so much for this. I’ve been rethinking my whole diet, and after reading this am shocked to see that my favorite thing, Honest Tea (black with lemon) has citric acid on the label. It will be hard to give up. There is not much left to drink. But this information is more useful than the advice I’ve gotten anywhere else.

  14. I just emptied a big bottle of aloe vera juice from Trader Joe’s down the drain after noticing citric acid under other ingredients.

  15. I am trying to follow the book and soon will try to stick to the induction diet. Is cinnamon allowed either in the induction or regular low acid diet?

  16. I normally have a vanilla or strawberries-n-cream SlimFast daily for breakfast. I add fresh blueberries and/or strawberries to it and blend it for the fruit. Does that work for the pH balancing, or am I just inviting trouble? I take an Omeprazole daily. Thanks for publishing such a helpful book!!!

  17. Once you have reached the maintenance phase, a few berries are OK.

  18. Yes, cinnamon is fine in during the Maintenance phase.

  19. I really liked that you brought this to peoples attention and it is true! I find that digestive enzymes also help really well when you have acid reflux and suggest them to anyone who has acid reflux or even GERD.

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  22. I don’t have acid reflux so it wouldn’t matter or does it?

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  24. If your reflux is not silent, does it mean you are not in danger of breathing problems caused by reflux like asthma

  25. No obstante, el abuso de este derecho forma un atentado contra la ética y podrá
    ser causal de sanción.

    Am I suffering from Silent Reflux??

    I’m an in-shape 30 year old male, 6’4″ 197lbs. No feeling of heartburn or indigestion at all. Never felt any of these things before.

    I have been avoiding processed junk food pretty much my whole life. I don’t drink soda or coffee.

    In 2013 I was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia/PNH after negligent exposure to toxic chemicals at a job site. Since around Aug 2014 i have had chronic throat pain real bad. I drink a TON of water daily, mainly from my Britta water filter. My throat pain causes Laryngospasms and the ENT I saw said that my artenoid cartilage is swollen. He says it is not related to reflux of any kind, and says it’s related to my aplastic anemia/PNH. The gastro and pulmo doctors were useless too.

    After reading Dr. K’s book I realize I have been pretty much eating this way for the past two years, a diet plan I obtained after reading “eat to live” & “super immunity” by Dr. Fuhrman. I did the induction phase of the diet & only thing I had to eliminate was some fruit i was eating.. lemon, orange, pineapple, mango, ect, however see no change in my throat pain.

    It is now Feb 2015, my throat always hurts, especially late night, even if I am not lying down. I follow Dr. K’s book religiously.

    I take a ton of medications for my AA/PNH.

    Could the medications be causing me silent reflux? I take cyclosporine, celexa, seroquil, xanax, vitamin D, zinc, and omeprazole (for the reflux, doesn’t work).

    Could all the water i drink from the britta filter be too acidic??

    How can i get rid of this chronic throat pain?

    Am I stuck with this forever now due to my aplastic anemia/PNH??

    Please help me. I live in the NYC suburbs and could easily go to dr. k’s office. I tried calling her, but she hasn’t called me back.


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  28. Hello,

    The water that Dr. Koufman’s recommends is not readily available where I live. I find waters with a pH of 9.5, such as Aqua Hydrate. Should I use it? Is it OK to use filters for a high pH, such as the ones made by Santevia. Filters sticks, made by the same company, would be very practical when traveling.
    Please help me making this very important decision. I understand that the water we drink is of the utmost importance to control the reflux.
    Many thanks, John

  29. I’ve read on the internet that aloe vera is toxic when taken internally but its one of the recommended food on the kaufman diet. I’ve also read about the benefits of lemon for heartburn yet it is to be avoided on the kaufman diet. Now I am confused.

  30. Are canned tuna and canned salmon acidic and therefore no good for the induction diet?

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  43. To Dan: I would guess that the meds are causing reflux. I feel even the gelatin capsule coatings on vitamins and minerals are giving me problems! Hang in there and keep looking for answers.

  44. Dr. Koufman. I am going to purchase your book because, the funds I don’t have to see you. It’s sad, I feel like I have to die because I can’t afford a visit, but I am grateful to be able to purchase the book and I am starting the two wk diet. I definitely have lpr. I wish I could see you but it’s so expensive to get healthy.

  45. This is great advice. One thing I found that really helped is so simple that people don’t believe it actually works. I simply take one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water each and every day! It really works, my acid reflux has virtually disappeared. Apparently, the apple cider vinegar provides the needed acidity that is typically lacking in the stomach of folks with acid reflux. Any thoughts on this?

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  48. Thanks for the great information. Here’s how I totally reversed my heartburn and acid reflux:

    1. Take a half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Helps neutralize stomach acid.
    2. Drink 1/2 cup aloe vera juice before a meal. Reduces inflammation.
    3. Watch this video on http://www.journalofnaturalhealth.com/heartburn
    and follow the steps. Your heartburn or acid reflux symptoms should be gone in about a week.
    4. Take it easy once you are reflux-free. Watch what you eat (don’t go crazy with this, of course!)

    I struggled for many years with acid reflux and it’s not easy to overcome it, but if you really want to, you can do it.

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