Foods that help prevent heartburn



Published Jun 5, 2024


Heartburn is a burning pain you feel in your chest, often happening after meals. This pain is usually a sign of acid reflux.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of acid reflux. In GERD, the backflow of stomach acid occurs chronically and causes damage to the body over time.

Occasional acid reflux or heartburn isn't uncommon. However, some people experience burning pain, bloating, and belching almost every time they eat. Around 20% of the population has GERD, a long-term acid reflux condition diagnosed by doctors.

Diet plays a crucial role in managing acid reflux symptoms and it is often the first line of treatment for those with chronic heartburn, according to a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine on GERD diet.

Chewing gum can help alleviate heart burn.Picture: Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels

Foods that trigger heartburn

Some foods are well-known for causing heartburn.

They make the oesophageal sphincter relax, slowing down digestion and causing food to stay in the stomach longer. The main offenders? Foods high in fat, salt, or spices, such as:

  • Fried food
  • Fast food
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips and other processed snacks
  • Chilli powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
  • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
  • Cheese

Other foods that can cause the same problem include: tomato-based sauces citrus fruits, chocolate, peppermint and carbonated beverages.

Tips for managing heartburn and acid reflux

Moderation is crucial since many people might not want to eliminate certain foods. However, try to avoid eating these troublesome foods late in the evening.

If you eat them close to bedtime, they can stay in your stomach and raise your oesophagus when you lie down. It's also helpful to eat small, frequent meals instead of larger, heavy ones and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks.

Foods that help prevent acid reflux

The good news is there are many foods that can help prevent acid reflux.

According to Harvard Health, you can stock your kitchen with items from these three categories:

High-fibre foods

Fibrous foods make you feel full, reducing the likelihood of overeating, which can contribute to heartburn. So, include plenty of healthy fibre from these foods:

Whole grains such as oatmeal, couscous and brown rice.

Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.

Green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and green beans.

Alkaline foods

Foods fall somewhere along the pH scale (an indicator of acid levels). Those that have a low pH are acidic and more likely to cause reflux.

Those with higher pH are alkaline and can help offset strong stomach acid. Alkaline foods include bananas, melons, cauliflower, fennel, nuts and watery foods.

Eating foods that contain a lot of water can dilute and weaken stomach acid. Choose foods such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, broth-based soups and herbal tea.

Home remedies for heartburn: simple tips to try

For those battling heartburn, antacids are a common go-to for relief. However, certain foods can also help ease symptoms.

Here are some options to consider:


Does milk help with heartburn? According to existing research milk can provide relief, but it depends on the type. Whole milk, with its full-fat content, can actually worsen acid reflux.

On the other hand, non-fat milk can act as a buffer between the stomach lining and acidic stomach contents, offering immediate relief.

Low-fat yoghurt also helps, thanks to its probiotics that aid digestion.


Chewing gum can be a simple way to combat heartburn. When you chew gum, your mouth produces more saliva, which helps neutralize stomach acid in the oesophagus.


Ginger stands out as a top digestive aid due to its medicinal properties. It’s alkaline and anti-inflammatory, which can reduce digestive tract irritation. Sipping ginger tea is a good option when heartburn strikes.

Apple cider vinegar

Although not scientifically proven, apple cider vinegar is popular for managing acid reflux. It’s important to dilute it, as the strong acid can irritate the oesophagus. Mix a small amount with warm water and drink it during meals.

Lemon water

While lemon juice is acidic, mixing a small amount with warm water and honey can have an alkalising effect, neutralising stomach acid. Honey also contains natural antioxidants, beneficial for cell health.

These simple home remedies may offer relief from heartburn without the need for medications.