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Ask Tufts Experts November 2018 Issue

Q. I’ve heard that drinking lemon water can help with my acid reflux. Is this true?

A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers. “There is no research to back up the idea that lemon water helps with acid reflux, but there are some steps you can take if you suffer from this condition.”

“Acid reflux occurs when the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus weakens, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, belching, and nausea. Many people get occasional acid reflux, but frequent occurrences may indicate a chronic disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a serious condition that can lead to esophageal cancer if not treated.”

“In addition to acid-reducing medications that your doctor can recommend, avoiding certain foods or drinks may help reduce acid reflux. These include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, deep fried/greasy or spicy foods, mint, carbonated beverages, tomato products, garlic and onions, and citrus fruits and juices, like lemons. The following tips are also recommended:

-Don’t lie down for at least 45 to 60 minutes after meals; and stop eating at least three hours before going to bed

-Avoid overeating, and try smaller, more frequent, meals

-Avoid tight waistbands

-Don’t smoke

-Lose weight if necessary”

“Lemon juice is quite acidic, so too much could actually make reflux worse. If you enjoy lemon water, make sure to add only a small amount of lemon juice. Also, be aware that lemon juice can damage the enamel on your teeth, so if you do drink lemon water, use a straw.”

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