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You want to get rid of heartburn fast and permanently, but you also love caffeine. Do you really need to give up coffee, tea, and even chocolate if you're on an acid reflux diet?

Want relief from heartburn? If you're often plagued by episodes of acid reflux and you'd love to see the back of that burning feeling for much longer than you can achieve with antacids, you'll want to take a close look at your diet. Heartburn often strikes after eating or drinking something, after all, and that suggests that foods play a huge role in causing acid reflux [1]. 

With a good acid reflux diet, food is a natural heartburn remedy. Follow an acid reflux diet, and you will find that your episodes of heartburn don't show up nearly as frequently, if at all [2]. That's good news, but there's a price to pay — some of the foods and beverages most likely to cause heartburn are also many people's absolute favorites. 

Your "banned foods list" includes such items as alcohol, tomatoes, citrus fruits, spicy foods, and greasy foods [3]. It also, unfortunately, features your favorite sources of caffeine: coffee, chocolate, and tea

If that makes you sad, we understand. Learning what role coffee, chocolate, and tea play in causing acid reflux may give you some motivation to stay away from them, however, so let's take a look at that. 

Heartburn And Caffeine: Why You May Want To Say No To Coffee & Friends If You Have Frequent Acid Reflux

Research shows that caffeine intake weakens the esopageal sphincter, which means that your odds of experiencing heartburn go up [4]. 

You've already found out that people who want to permanently reduce or eliminate frequent episodes of heartburn are advised to seriously cut down on their consumption of coffee, tea, and chocolate — and all these products have caffeine in common. While some studies suggest that caffeine itself induces heartburn, however, one study found that regular coffee consumption carries a very strong risk of inducing acid reflux, while tea and caffeinated water don't have the same effect. This means that coffee may have heartburn-inducing properties even when you take caffeine out of the equation. [5

What does this mean for people who would like to eliminate heartburn by following an acid reflux diet? In short:

  • If you'd like to keep drinking coffee, decaffeinated coffee is a better choice for you [6]. 
  • If you really want to keep on drinking regular coffee, including the caffeine, you are best off consuming your coffee with meals [7]. 

What about chocolate and heartburn?

Once again, there is some evidence that giving into your urge to eat chocolate weakens your esophageal sphincter over time, making you more prone to episodes of heartburn, and also research to suggest that consuming chocolate increases the acid exposure in your esophagus [8, 9]. Because chocolate has been found to aggravate or induce heartburn in some people, those with frequent episodes of heartburn, and especially those with GERD, have been advised to avoid chocolate consumption since the 1970s [10]. 

Do I Really Have To Give Up Caffeine To Find Heartburn Relief?

If you are looking into the link between heartburn and caffeine and trying to figure out whether coffee, tea, and chocolate are banned on an acid reflux diet, your heartburn is probably impacting your quality of life quite a bit. Your willingness to take proactive steps to change your diet and lifestyle to be free from heartburn will certainly increase your chances of success. 

Keep in mind, however, that while caffeine consumption has been shown to aggravate and cause heartburn, other factors play a bigger role.

One study found, for instance, that being overweight or obese and smoking were the two factors most strongly linked to the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the chronic form of acid reflux [11] .

You would also do well to minimize your alcohol consumption or stop drinking altogether, as there is a proven link between heartburn and alcohol. Citrus fruits trigger heartburn as well. An acid reflux diet isn't just about avoiding certain foods, either — consuming smaller meals more often, and not eating in the hours before you go to bed, also reduces your episodes of heartburn. [12]

Finally, making natural heartburn remedies — like chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal, using baking soda to treat heartburn, and sleeping on your left side with an elevated head — part of your life will help you kiss your heartburn goodbye as well. 

Coffee, chocolate, and tea may play a role in inducing heartburn, in other words, but the caffeinated products you love so much only form part of the picture. You may find that parting ways with caffeine is just what you need to get rid of heartburn, but you may also find that chewing gum, losing some weight, and stopping smoking are all you need. 

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