Eating some foods, including fried foods and spicy foods, among others, may worsen symptoms of acid reflux. Certain medications and supplements may also cause heartburn.

Acid reflux happens when the contents of your stomach back up into your esophagus. This occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes and allows stomach acid to rise.

Your doctor may diagnose your acid reflux as gastroesophageal disease (GERD) if this happens more than twice per week.

Several food-related factors may contribute to acid reflux, such as:

  • the position of your body after eating
  • the amount of food you eat during a single meal
  • the type of foods you eat

You can manage each of these factors by modifying how and what you eat. Simply shifting your body position to an upright posture after a meal and eating smaller portions may help prevent reflux.

Knowing which foods to avoid can be a bit more confusing. There’s still some controversy in the medical community over which foods actually cause reflux symptoms.

Despite this lack of consensus, many researchers agree that it’s best to avoid certain types of foods and beverages to prevent indigestion and other symptoms of acid reflux.

Fatty foods generally lower pressure on your LES and delay stomach emptying. This may increase your risk for reflux symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

To help prevent reflux, you can try decreasing your total fat intake.

Here are some high fat foods you may want to avoid:

  • french fries
  • deep-fried onion rings
  • potato chips
  • butter
  • whole milk
  • cheese
  • ice cream
  • high fat sour cream
  • high fat creamy salad dressings
  • creamy sauces and dips
  • high fat cuts of red meat, such as marbled sirloin or prime rib

Studies have suggested that spicy foods can cause abdominal pain and burning symptoms if you have a functional gastrointestinal disorder.

Capsaicin, the chemical compound that makes food taste spicy, can irritate parts of the esophagus, which can result in acid reflux.

In fact, a 2017 Korean study found that hot, spicy stews led to GERD symptoms in more than half of assessed cases.

Though a 2010 study suggested that people who regularly eat spicy food experience fewer GERD symptoms from these meals, there has been little research since to support this claim.

It’s generally safest to avoid spicy foods if you regularly experience acid reflux.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of your diet. However, certain types might make your GERD symptoms worse. The following fruits and veggies commonly lead to reflux:

  • pineapple
  • citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes
  • tomatoes (and tomato-based foods)
  • garlic and onions

If in doubt, discuss your tolerance level with a doctor. If you have access, a dietitian may assist you in creating a pattern of eating that can help manage your condition.

Several common drinks may also trigger symptoms in people with GERD. These include:

  • alcohol
  • coffee and tea
  • carbonated beverages
  • citrus and tomato juices

With or without caffeine, coffee might promote reflux symptoms. However, some people with GERD tolerate coffee well.

Pay attention to your individual symptoms and consume only beverages that you tolerate well.

A number of other foods, medications, and supplements may cause your LES to function poorly, which can lead to GERD symptoms.

For example, you may experience symptoms after consuming:

  • chocolate
  • mint, such as peppermint or spearmint
  • heavily processed foods
  • antibiotics
  • aspirin or other pain relievers
  • bisphosphonates
  • alpha-blockers
  • nitrates
  • calcium channel blockers
  • tricyclics
  • theophylline
  • iron or potassium supplements

You may be tempted to stop taking a medication or supplement if you think it’s increasing your acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.

However, you should always talk with a doctor before stopping your current medications.

Learn which foods can help you manage acid reflux.

Making adjustments to your diet and eating habits can help you reduce your acid reflux symptoms and your need for antacids.

It’s important to note that long-term use of antacids may result in unwanted health effects. Antacids are intended as a short-term solution to a long-term concern.

They quickly neutralize stomach acids for the prevention of pain associated with acid reflux, but they will not heal or treat the inflamed esophagus.

Long-term effects of antacid use may include;

Antacid overuse may also cause hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in your blood, which can affect many organ systems.

In addition, magnesium or aluminum buildup can potentially be a concern for those with kidney disease.

Eating smaller portions and trying to stay in an upright position after meals may help. Try to avoid high fat foods, spicy foods, and certain fruits, vegetables, and beverages if they trigger symptoms.

You might also notice symptoms after taking medications or supplements.

If this happens, talk with your doctor. They may be able to recommend alternative medications or strategies to help manage your symptoms.