10 Hidden Triggers for Acid Reflux

Every time I talk about reflux, it hits me hard, like a stake right through my heart.

The reason why I say this, and why I say you MUST take it seriously, is because it’s been more than 3 years since I lost my father to a hard-fought battle to esophageal cancer. And esophageal cancer comes from one thing: ACID.


Acid reflux has 5 stages to watch out for (and I do a deep-dive on all 5 stages in my first book, GET OFF YOUR ACID, so if you suffer from reflux, it’s a must-read):

  1. Fatigue
  2. Digestive issues/food allergies and intolerances
  3. Inflammation
  4. Ulceration/ sclerosis
  5. Degenerative disease such as cancer, heart disease, etc.

My dad had a silent cough for years, before I became more educated on the subject and was able to recognize what he was going through. Not a single doctor he saw picked up on this, so chances are, your doctor won’t either.

But long story short, the cough was silent reflux, and the reflux slowly was corroding and eroding his esophagus, to the point that the slow-burning ulceration (and subsequent loss of blood) made him bleed from the inside, and pass out at the steering wheel while driving 70 mph with my mom on the highway.

It’s amazing the accident didn’t kill them both. But what it did do was make my father, and our family, aware of the bombshell the doctors dropped on our family: CANCER. 

When the doctor told us the cause, verbatim, my heart dropped, “Too much acid.” Everyone in the room turned and looked at me, as I sat there wearing a shirt that read, “GET OFF YOUR ACID!”

So if you have reflux, I say this not to scare you, but to motivate you to kill the monster while it’s small. Don’t let it ever get to a point of no return, because I can tell you from personal experience, it is something you never want to go through, whether it’s yourself or a family member. 

And this is a really common problem. Did you know that more than HALF of Americans suffer from heartburn or acid reflux? And around ONE THIRD experience symptoms at least once a week!

Acid reflux, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) causes symptoms including:

  • Indigestion
  • Frequent burping
  • Bloated feeling
  • A burning sensation in the chest
  • Nausea or even vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tooth decay

Reflux Begins With Food

I have a feeling you’re going to be surprised by the foods on the list below that trigger acid reflux. Some of them might be what you think, but others are definitely not.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about acid reflux, and the biggest is what causes reflux.

Most people think that reflux is caused by TOO MUCH acid in your stomach. It’s easy to assume that’s the case because acid creeps up the esophagus. You can literally feel it.  

On the contrary, reflux is actually caused by TOO LITTLE acid in the stomach (supported by 16,000 research articles). Reflux occurs when a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes instead of staying firmly closed. When acid levels are too low, the LES will not close properly. 

Now you might be thinking… Dr. D, you always say acid is bad, so why are you saying more acid in the stomach is a good thing?

Fair question. And yes, acid is bad. It’s burn a hole through a jet engine bad!

Likewise, foods that are naturally acid-forming in your body like those in the standard American diet are bad.

However, throughout your body, there are some acidic substances that are good and supposed to be that way. Stomach acid is one of those.

That’s why the foods on the list below make your reflux symptoms worse. They are all foods that will make it harder for stomach acid to do its job of breaking down foods.

When you eat these offending foods, it leads to:

  • Less stomach acid to break down your food and kill off the bad bacteria in your digestive tract; and
  • A malfunctioning LES valve, which is why you experience acid reflux symptoms.

So as we run through the foods on the list, I recommend you take note of any you eat regularly, and then keep track of your symptoms. Symptom tracking for reflux can be very effective if you use it as a way to determine which foods to eliminate, but keep in mind that some foods can exacerbate symptoms for 48 hours or more, so eliminate foods for a few weeks before reintroducing to be sure.

A couple of notes before we get started with the top offenders… First, if you’re taking medications for high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, or frequent antibiotics, it’s important you talk to your doctor about your acid reflux symptoms. They could be side effects of your medication.

Second, if you’re regularly taking proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like Prilosec, it’s important that you don’t stop taking PPI drugs cold turkey. If you did stop cold turkey, you would experience severe withdrawal symptoms as soon as your stomach began generating more acid. Talk to your doctor about a gradual withdrawal in coordination with the information below. Better yet, start ADDING in the good foods and supplements, and begin to build a healthy environment that will prevent the reflux from happening – THEN you can begin the process of reducing your PPIs in coordination with your doctor.

Find out more about why Zantac and Prilosec make the problem WORSE, not better.

10 Hidden Trigger Foods for Acid Reflux Sufferers

  1. Sugar

Chocolate is a known reflux offender, but cookies, donuts, and other sweets also cause reflux symptoms for many people. Sugar may not worsen symptoms immediately, so look for an effect over as much as 48 hours. And by the way, artificial sweeteners are no better. So if you’re looking for alternatives, lo han berry extract (AKA monk fruit) or organic stevia are your best options.

  1. Processed Foods 

Foods made from corn, potatoes, wheat (bread and pasta), and sodium chloride (table salt) can trigger a reflux episode in some patients with GERD. It’s not entirely clear why these foods cause reflux, although I would argue that it’s no coincidence that those are all acidic foods, but studies have shown that diets high in processed salt (not mineral salts) like those that rely on processed foods increase the likelihood of developing GERD.

  1. Refined Oils

Beware of salad dressings, mayonnaise, and anything containing vegetable oils, canola oil, or soybean oil, which are all hard for the stomach to break down as omega-6 fatty acids. Olive oil is a better alternative.

  1. Fruit Juices 

Although it’s generally thought that citrus juices like orange juice and lemonade cause reflux, other juices such as cranberry and apple have the same effect. Why? They’re all acidic and full of sugar, which exacerbates symptoms.

Note – lemon juice itself without sugar is not bad for all people with reflux. What happens if you were to put lemon juice on a cut? The ACID would BURN…Well, the same happens if the inflammation, irritation, and ulceration from the reflux is bad enough, then you can feel the burn, just like it was the cut. But if it’s not there yet, then you could benefit from lemon water, lemon dressing on salads, etc.

  1. Fried Foods

Heavy foods are tough on the stomach to break down, which leads to gastric distension, which means increased pressure on the sphincter at the top of the stomach to open, letting acid into the esophagus.

  1. Processed Meats 

Research indicates that ground beef, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, and other processed cuts of meat all trigger acid reflux. 

  1. Dairy Products 

Patients complain that sour cream, cheeses, ice cream, and cottage cheese make their GERD worse. Most likely, this is because they are all high in unhealthy animal-based fats and difficult to break down. They also are high in the sugar lactose, which turns to lactic acid.

  1. Any Caffeine 

It’s widely known that coffee and espresso drinks irritate the upper GI tract, but did you know that any caffeinated beverages can have the same effect, including energy drinks, tea, and soda? They irritate the esophagus and can allow more stomach acid to creep upward. However, you need to be careful about removing caffeine from your daily routine because it’s so addictive. Ease off slowly over a period of a month or two. Once you finally have caffeine out of your system, I promise you won’t miss it – or the reflux it’s causing!

  1. Alcohol

I recommend anyone suffering from reflux to stop drinking any alcohol for a few weeks. Then, if you reintroduce the occasional beverage, notice the effect it has on your reflux over the following 48 hours. Again, the symptoms are not always immediate. 

  1. Carbonated Water 

Any carbonated drink, including sparkling water or seltzer, causes gastric distension, which lets acid into the esophagus.

If you love any of the foods on this list of hidden triggers, you may be feeling frustrated right about now. That’s understandable.

As much as it might be a good idea to transition away from those foods completely, there is an alternative that helps thousands of people.

We’ve heard from countless people that Acid-Kicking Minerals finally rid them of their heart burn and acid reflux in as little as a few days and alleviates symptoms immediately.

In fact, many people with severe symptoms start by taking it 2 to 3 times a day. It delivers just the right balance of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium bicarbonate to stamp out the acid that causes so much pain and discomfort.

“I absolutely love!!! Love!! This product!!! It has helped me tremendously with my acid reflux and digestion issues and when taken at bed time I can finally rest without heart burn. Thank you so much Dr Daryl!!” – Amy S.  

“I started feeling better and for the past 4 and a half weeks I have had ZERO symptoms of reflux/heartburn/burping/burning discomfort. I have not taken a single antacid because I have not needed one. It’s a miracle to me because never have I ever felt this good before or after eating ever! I’m symptom free and finally feel like I always wished I felt without taking a pharmaceutical to get me there!” –Mark B.  

I suffered from severe acid re-flux and the minerals have helped out tremendously. I am able to sleep through the night and not wake up with burning sensation. I also have to say the minerals have helped with my aches and pains from arthritis as well. Strongly recommend this product.” – Heide H.

Because reflux sufferers are so devoted to our Minerals, we created a bundle of products specifically designed to ease GERD symptoms, heal the esophagus, and prevent future damage.


Check out our Kick Acid Reflux Bundle, which combines Acid-Kicking Minerals with Acid-Kicking Greens and Acid-Kicking Black Seed Oil to bring you the best combination of products in the world for preventing and alleviating reflux. You’ll also get the Complete Guide to Acid Reflux to get your questions answered and find out what most doctors will not tell you.


Dr. Daryl

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