Does Salt Aggravate Acid Reflux?

Salt and Acid Reflux

Acid reflux happens when stomach contents leak into the esophagus. Stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, causing heartburn. When acid reflux happens frequently, it's called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD damages the esophagus and can lead to Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

Foods That Cause Acid Reflux

Some foods can trigger or worsen acid reflux. But trigger foods vary from person to person, according to Beth Israel Lahey Health's Winchester Hospital. Keep a record of what you eat for a couple of weeks and note which foods seem to cause heartburn for you so you can avoid them in the future.

Among the foods most commonly reported as troublesome for acid reflux are:

  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Acidic foods, such as tomato sauce and citrus fruits
  • Spicy foods, including hot peppers and onions
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Peppermint
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

To keep symptoms at bay, follow these tips from Beth Israel Lahey Health:

  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid lying down during or after a meal.
  • Avoid eating within three hours of bedtime.
  • Limit stress.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Chew non-mint gum.

Could Some Salt Be Good for Reflux?

If you search the internet for acid reflux and salt, you may come across claims that some salt is good medicine, especially pink Himalayan salt. Although popular, pink salt only differs from sea salt and table salt in the trace amounts of impurities it contains. All are mostly sodium chloride.

"Salt is salt," Dr. Dumot says. "Whatever [other] types of things that might be in there are secondary."

As far as using salt to buffer stomach acid, he says, "salt does not neutralize acid at all."

Dr. Dumot urges anyone who has frequent heartburn or heartburn at night to see a gastroenterologist.

Salt does bring out flavor in food, which Dr. Dumot says is fine if it helps people eat more vegetables and less fat and meat.

"Salt in moderation, especially on a plant-based diet, I'm all for it," Dr. Dumot says. "When I tell patients to eat Brussels sprouts and broccoli, I want it to be as palatable as possible. I would never tell people to not salt it."

Read more: How to Build a Healthy Diet to Tame Acid Reflux Symptoms

Read more on: livestrong