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Want to get rid of heartburn with an acid reflux diet? "Should I eat citrus fruit?" will be one of your most burning questions — excuse the pun. Here's what research says about eating citrus fruits when you suffer from acid reflux.

Do you suffer from frequent acid reflux and heartburn? You're in "good company": up to 20 percent of the American population often suffers from acid reflux [1], while an estimated seven percent has heartburn on a daily basis [2]. 

While many acid reflux sufferers rely on over-the-counter antacids to get rid of their heartburn fast, they'll also find that the effects of antacids wear off quickly — and if they suffer from GERD, the chronic form of acid reflux, antacids simply don't offer sufficient symptom relief [3]. 

You could seek to get rid of heartburn with other pharmacological or even surgical treatments, but do you have to? It's no coincidence that physicians tend to recommend dietary adjustments as a first-line treatment for GERD or frequent acid reflux. With an acid reflux diet, food is a natural heartburn remedy. [4]

What is an acid reflux diet, you may wonder? Quite simply, an acid reflux diet means avoiding food that gives you heartburn and eating foods that help with heartburn and acid reflux. 

Citrus fruits are frequently recommended for their fiber and vitamin C content. A single medium-sized orange, for instance, contains 120 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, and 12 percent of your recommended daily fiber intake [5]. Are citrus fruits suitable for people with acid reflux or GERD who want to get rid of heartburn fast, though?

Want To Get Rid Of Heartburn With An Acid Reflux Diet? Citrus Fruit Causes Heartburn!

"Should I eat citrus fruit if I suffer from heartburn?" If you're asking yourself this question, you're on the right track. When you're suffering from heartburn, a portion of your stomach contents, including stomach acids, back up into your esophagus. This acid environment can damage your esophageal mucosa over time, worsening your acid reflux symptoms. [6] When you drink citrus fruits, you are introducing even more acidic substances into your esophagus. 

Research indicates that eating citrus fruits can negatively impact both acid reflux symptoms and esophageal pH levels, but doesn't suggest that people with GERD who stop eating oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits can actually cure their GERD that way [7]. 

Physicians will recommend a whole host of dietary guidelines for people with GERD. Interestingly, one study found that people, desperate to get rid of their heartburn fast, generally stick to the recommendation to avoid citrus fruit and certain kinds of alcohol (beer and wine are the worst offenders) — while ignoring the advice to steer clear of soft drinks, fatty foods, and tea. [8]

Something tells me that this isn't because most folks who wanted to get rid of heartburn fast didn't really fancy alcohol and citrus fruits anyway, but because they found that citrus fruits and alcohol increased their acid reflux and heartburn symptoms more than did those other products.

Another study indeed noted that citrus fruits were especially likely to trigger heartburn, and thus recommended that people with frequent heartburn and reflux esophagitis stay away from both citrus juice and whole citrus fruits [9]. 

I Want To Stick To An Acid Reflux Diet And Avoid Citrus Fruits To Get Rid Of Heartburn But...

...where will I get my vitamin C? And what about my fiber intake?

Good questions!

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant you need for healthy bones, skin, and connective tissue and that also helps you absorb iron. A serious vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, leads to fatigue, gum inflammation, joint pain, and poor wound healing — among other nasties. [10, 11]

You may want to get rid of heartburn fast, but you certainly don't want to end up with scurvy as the result of an acid reflux diet!

If you're an adult, you need between 90 and 120 mg of vitamin C a day, and 35 mg more if you're a smoker [11] — which is a bad idea if you suffer from acid reflux, and just in general, by the way. Since you should also avoid vitamin C-rich tomatoes and tomato products if you have GERD or want to eat an acid reflux diet due to your frequent heartburn [12], meeting your daily vitamin C needs may sound difficult. 

Try eating broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, carrots, beets, apples, peas, and stinging nettle tea instead to get rid of your heartburn while still meeting your recommended daily intake of vitamin C [11]. 

You will also need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber in your diet. You can get this from brown rice, bran, wheat germ, beans and legumes, and fruits and vegetables [13]. Since research suggests that fiber-rich foods relieve heartburn and are good for people with GERD, it is particularly important to ensure you get enough dietary fiber [14]. 

An Acid Reflux Diet Is About More Than Avoiding Citrus Fruits

If you want to get rid of heartburn fast and permanently, avoiding citrus fruits is — as you've seen — part of the acid reflux diet plan. If you suffer from acid reflux a lot, or you already know you have GERD, and you have been eating lots of citrus fruits or you drink a ton of citrus juice, it's time to stop. Avoiding citrus fruits isn't the only aspect of a good acid reflux diet, though, so if you want to know more, please check out SteadyHealth's other article about how to get rid of heartburn fast with an acid reflux diet

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