Can you eat ice cream with acid reflux?
In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat ice cream with acid reflux?” with an in-depth analysis of acid reflux, the effects of eating ice cream with acid reflux, other foods to eat when you are having acid reflux, as well as foods to avoid with acid reflux.
Can you eat ice cream with acid reflux?
No, it is recommended not to eat ice cream when you have acid reflux. Ice cream and other cold dairy products can cause numbness and repression of the lower esophageal sphincter’s function. Consequently, causing the stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus more easily.
However, studies based on exploratory analyses suggest that, in men and women with the metabolic syndrome, increasing the consumption of either low-fat or full-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, ice cream and cheese, to at least three servings per day does not affect common symptoms of GERD, heartburn and acid regurgitation compared to a diet limited in dairy (4).
In the United States, it has been reported that approximately 20% of the adult population experience heartburn and/or acid regurgitation, the two dominant symptoms of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), at least weekly. This ®gure increases to about 40% in patients with first-degree relatives with Barrett’s esophagus or distal adenocarcinoma of the esophagus – two severe complications of chronic GERD (1).
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux refers to the condition when the acid flows back from the stomach into the esophagus. This occurs commonly but can result in complex or painful symptoms, including heartburn.
One particular cause for this is because the lower esophageal sphincter is impaired or injured. In normal circumstances, the lower esophageal sphincter shuts to prevent food in the stomach from moving into the esophagus. GERD is characterized by unphysiological stress on the esophageal mucosa, caused by the movement of acidic gastric contents into the esophagus because of a defective lower esophageal sphincter (1).
Heartburn is a characteristic symptom of acid reflux. After having a whole meal or particular foods, you may feel a burning feeling in the stomach or chest.
Other symptoms include (3):
- burping or
- Dry cough
- difficulty swallowing
- sore throat
- lump in the throat
Many people with acid reflux feel that certain foods trigger their symptoms. No single diet can limit all symptoms of acid reflux, also food triggers may be different for every individual.
The foods we consume influence the volume of acid our stomach generates. Eating the appropriate varieties of food is necessary to control acid reflux or more severe conditions.
Foods to eat when you have acid reflux
Experimental and clinical studies have shown a decrease in lower esophageal sphincter pressure and an increase in esophageal acid exposure in response to the ingestion of food rich in fats, chocolate and carminatives. Studies have also demonstrated that fried foods, spicy foods and alcohol are the most common precipitating factors of heartburn; however, this study had no control group and did not quantify the intake of dietary items (2).
Symptoms of acid reflux may result when hydrochloric acid enters the oesophagus which results in inflammation and pain. To relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, you can add the following foods to your diet:
Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal illnesses, as it has anti-inflammatory qualities. Consider adding chopped or sliced ginger root to recipes or smoothies, or have ginger tea to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. The mechanism by which ginger could enhance antral contractions and gastric emptying is not clear (6).
You can get healthy fats from foods including sunflower oil, avocados, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseed, and sesame oil. Decrease the consumption of saturated fatty acids and substitute them with more healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
The relation of ingesting fats in the GERD disease is controversial. In studies, a higher frequency of reflux symptoms with a high-fat diet as compared to a low-fat diet has also been demonstrated. However, in other studies, when a high-fat meal was compared with a low-fat one in healthy individuals, no significant differences were found with regard to lower esophageal sphincter pressure or the amount of regurgitated acid (1,2).
Vegetables including cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and potatoes, have a naturally low amount of fat and sugar. Studies showed a positive effect of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and high fiber on improving symptoms of GERD (2).
Oatmeal is a rich source of fibre. A diet rich in fibre has been associated with a decreased risk of acid reflux. Other fibre-rich foods include whole-grain rice and bread. According to studies, a diet rich in fiber and poor in fat, seems to be advisable to prevent reflux symptoms (2).
Seafood and lean meats
Meats, including fish, chicken, and turkey have a lower fat content and can decrease the symptoms of acid reflux.
Fruits, such as apples, melons, pears, and bananas, are less prone to induce reflux symptoms as compared to acid-rich fruits.
Consuming egg whites may prove beneficial when you have acid reflux. Limit egg yolks, however, which are loaded with fat and may induce the symptoms of acid reflux.
Foods to avoid when you have acid reflux
To control the symptoms of acid reflux, you should begin by excluding the following foods from your diet:
Foods rich in fat
Fried and fatty foods can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to open, letting more stomach acid flow back up into the esophagus. These foods may also delay metabolism.
Consuming foods rich in fat places you at higher risk for acid reflux symptoms, so decreasing the total daily fat intake can benefit you.
The below-mentioned foods are rich in fat which should be avoided:
- Desserts or snacks, including ice cream and chips
- French fries and onion rings
- Full-fat dairy products, including butter, whole milk, cheese, and cream
- Fatty or fried beef, pork, or lamb
- Oily and greasy foods
Tomatoes and citrus fruit
Fruits and vegetables are important to maintain a balanced diet. However, some fruits can alleviate acid reflux symptoms, particularly acid-rich fruits. Avoid eating the following foods, if you have frequent acid reflux:
- tomato sauce or foods that have it
Some ways to prevent acid reflux
In addition to controlling the symptoms of acid reflux with diet and nutrition, you can control symptoms with certain lifestyle changes:
- Use antacids and other medications that decrease acid production
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Do not overeat
- Do not eat for three to four hours before going to bed
In this short article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat ice cream with acid reflux?” with an in-depth analysis of acid reflux, the effects of eating ice cream with acid reflux, other foods to eat when you are having acid reflux, as well as foods to avoid with acid reflux.
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Meining, Alexander, and Meinhard Classen. The role of diet and lifestyle measures in the pathogenesis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The American journal of gastroenterology 95.10 (2000): 2692-2697
Sethi, Sajiv, and Joel E. Richter. Diet and gastroesophageal reflux disease: role in pathogenesis and management. Curr opin gastroenterol, 2017, 33, 107-111.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). University of Harvard. 2022.
Festi, Davide, et al. Body weight, lifestyle, dietary habits and gastroesophageal reflux disease. World j gastroenterol WJG, 2009, 15, 1690.
Fernando, Imashi, et al. The impact of low-fat and full-fat dairy foods on symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease: an exploratory analysis based on a randomized controlled trial. Euro J Nutr, 2022, 1-9.
Hu, Ming-Luen, et al. Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World j gastroenterol WJG, 2011, 17, 105.