5. Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee
Studies show that coffee temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux (27).
Some evidence points towards caffeine as a possible culprit. Similar to coffee, caffeine weakens the lower esophageal sphincter (28).
Additionally, drinking decaffeinated coffee has been shown to reduce reflux compared to regular coffee (29, 30).
However, one study that gave participants caffeine in water was unable to detect any effects of caffeine on reflux, even though coffee itself worsened the symptoms.
These findings indicate that compounds other than caffeine may play a role in coffee’s effects on acid reflux. The processing and preparation of coffee might also be involved (29).
Nevertheless, although several studies suggest that coffee may worsen acid reflux, the evidence is not entirely conclusive.
One study found no adverse effects when acid reflux patients consumed coffee right after meals, compared to an equal amount of warm water. However, coffee increased the duration of reflux episodes between meals (31).
Additionally, an analysis of observational studies found no significant effects of coffee intake on the self-reported symptoms of GERD.
Yet, when the signs of acid reflux were investigated with a small camera, coffee consumption was linked with greater acid damage in the esophagus (32).
Whether coffee intake worsens acid reflux may depend on the individual. If coffee gives you heartburn, simply avoid it or limit your intake.
6. Chew Gum
A few studies show that chewing gum reduces acidity in the esophagus (33, 34, 35).
Gum that contains bicarbonate appears to be especially effective (36).
These findings indicate that chewing gum — and the associated increase in saliva production — may help clear the esophagus of acid.
However, it probably doesn’t reduce the reflux itself.
7. Avoid Raw Onion
One study in people suffering from acid reflux showed that eating a meal containing raw onion significantly increased heartburn, acid reflux and belching compared with an identical meal that didn’t contain onion (37).
More frequent belching might suggest that more gas is being produced due to the high amounts of fermentable fiber in onions (20, 38).
Raw onions might also irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing worsened heartburn.
Whatever the reason, if you feel like eating raw onion makes your symptoms worse, you should avoid it.
8. Limit Your Intake of Carbonated Beverages
Patients with GERD are sometimes advised to limit their intake of carbonated beverages.
One observational study found that carbonated soft drinks were associated with increased acid reflux symptoms (39).
Also, controlled studies show that drinking carbonated water or cola temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, compared to drinking plain water (40, 41).
The main reason is the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated beverages, which causes people to belch more often — an effect that can increase the amount of acid escaping into the esophagus
9. Don’t Drink Too Much Citrus Juice
In a study of 400 GERD patients, 72% reported that orange or grapefruit juice worsened their acid reflux symptoms (42).
The acidity of citrus fruits doesn’t appear to be the only factor contributing to these effects. Orange juice with a neutral pH also appears to aggravate symptoms (43).
Since citrus juice doesn’t weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, it is likely that some of its constituents irritate the lining of the esophagus (44).
While citrus juice probably doesn’t cause acid reflux, it can make your heartburn temporarily worse.