The 10 Worst Foods That Make Acid Reflux More Severe – Plus What to Do Instead

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Everytime 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 next month will be 2 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 talk about all 5 stages in my book GET OFF YOUR ACID (and do a deep dive on this topic, so if you are dealing with reflux, this is a must-have):

  1. Fatigue
  2. Digestive Issues/Food Allergies and Intolerances/Leaky Gut
  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 (amazing not a single doctor he saw picked up on this!)…

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 driving 70mph with my mom on 95 south before Hartford…

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.  And when the doctor told us the cause, verbatim, my heart dropped…TOO MUCH ACID (the day I launched Alkamind – how fortuitous).

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

Reflux begins with the foods you eat…

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 for the next few weeks, I’m going to break down the myths and help you get to the bottom of what’s really going on.

This is a pain that affects far too many of us.

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

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. You want to eat foods that will allow stomach acid to do its job of breaking down foods.

When you eat these offending foods, it leads to: 1) less stomach acid to break down your food and kill off the bad bacteria in your digestive tract; and 2) 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… 

If you’re regularly taking proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like Zantac or Prilosec (which I’ll share more information about in the next couple of weeks) 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…

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.

The Worst Foods for Acid Reflux Sufferers

Sugar – Chocolate is a known offender, but cookies, donuts, and other sweets also cause reflux symptoms for many people. 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.

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.

Refined oils (Omega-6 Fatty Acids) – 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. Olive oil is a better alternative.

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 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, salads, etc…

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.

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

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.

Coffee or 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!

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. 

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

What’s Missing? 

Now take another look at the foods on that list above, and this time, consider what’s not on it. You won’t find tomatoes, lemons, grapefruit, onions, or garlic – all foods that people mistakenly think make their reflux symptoms worse.

Next time, we’ll talk about why those foods actually can HELP reflux, as well as other foods that will get rid of your GERD for good!

Until then, relieve your reflux symptoms with the wonder supplement that leads to reviews like these…


“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.







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






If the reflux is bad, start 2-3 times a day, and see how you do.  I also suggest the Daily Greens in the morning to improve gut function that may be causing gaseous emissions pushing up the acid from the stomach to the esophagus.

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.

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Dr. Daryl

1 comment

Sisi Suarez
Sisi Suarez

Thank you for all you do and for sharing your knowledge.

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