Most of us have experienced heartburn at least once in our lives. This unpleasant, burning sensation in our esophagus and chest is often caused by spicy and acidic foods.
So, it’s a good idea to avoid them, especially if you suffer from acid reflux.
But how can you know if a certain food will cause heartburn? Looking at the pH level itself isn’t a great indicator of that.
Let’s look at lemons as an example. They have a very low pH level, but do they actually cause heartburn?
Why does lemon cause heartburn?
Lemon juice contains lots of acidic compounds and vitamins like vitamin C, so it’s an acidic drink. But luckily, most people don’t consume plain lemon juice and mix it with water instead.
When you do that, you create a very healthy and alkaline-forming drink that can be helpful in soothing acid reflux symptoms, including heartburn.
So, if you drink it in moderation and as part of a healthy diet, lemon-infused water can help you ease your heartburn.
Is lemon acidic?
Lemon juice has a pH level of around 2.00-2.60. While it’s very low, most people don’t drink lemon juice on its own.
Instead, it’s often diluted with water, creating lemon water. This beverage is actually very alkaline-forming, which means that it can be great for people with acid reflux and GERD.
Lemon juice on its own is acidic, and it also irritates your esophagus as you drink it. So make sure to avoid it, as it will most definitely lead to heartburn, even if you’re not prone to this issue.
How can lemon cause heartburn?
Lemons and lemon juice are very acidic. They contain a lot of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which irritates your esophagus and digestive tract, leading to inflammation. Because of that, lemons are definitely a trigger for heartburn.
Eating lemons on their own is also not recommended, as it increases gastric acid production. This means that this excess acid can then reflux up your esophagus, leading to heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms.
Aside from its effect on acid reflux symptoms, lemon juice is also erosive. Because of that, it can erode your tooth enamel and harm your teeth.
So, before drinking lemon juice, make sure to properly dilute it to avoid this problem.
Can lemon help with heartburn?
Lemon juice on its own is only likely to worsen your heartburn. But that’s not the case for lemon juice-infused water.
According to research, this beverage is actually a natural form of alkaline water, as it neutralizes the gastric acid found in your stomach.
This is because lemon juice is actually alkaline-forming once digested and metabolized. That’s why it’s important to dilute it with water before consuming it to avoid irritation to your throat and esophagus.
The best way to make lemon water is to use no more than one tablespoon of lemon juice. That way, you can ensure that you’re not taking in too much acid from the lemon.
It’s also good to drink the mixture through a straw, if possible, to avoid teeth enamel erosion.
Experts recommend drinking lemon water about 20 minutes before eating to prepare your stomach for the food.
This also helps prevent heartburn and other symptoms that might be triggered by some of the foods you will eat.
Is lemon good for you?
As you may know, lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. Just one tablespoon provides you with over 20% of your daily recommended need for this micronutrient, which is a great dose.
Vitamin C is crucial for the growth, development, and repair of all your tissues. It also helps boost your immune system, improving your body’s ability to fight against viruses and bacteria.
Additionally, adequate amounts of vitamin C in your body aid in wound healing and skin maintenance.
Because of all the vitamin C lemons contain, adding them to your diet can also help prevent anemia. This is because this micronutrient helps with iron absorption – a mineral that helps make hemoglobin, which is a crucial protein in red blood cells.
So, even though lemons don’t contain a lot of iron, they actually prevent iron deficiency.
What’s more, studies show that consuming citrus fruits like lemons reduces your risk of various types of cancer.
This benefit comes from the fact that lemons contain a lot of antioxidants, including vitamin C.
These plant compounds help flush out free radicals from your body, preventing oxidative stress and reducing your risk of conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
So, adding lemon juice to your diet can help you stay healthy.
If you consume lemons with their flesh and not just the juice, you can also benefit from the soluble fiber they contain.
This type of fiber lowers your blood sugar levels and improves the health of your digestive system, which can be beneficial for people with acid reflux.
Should you drink lemon juice on acid reflux?
You should definitely not be drinking lemon juice, regardless of whether you suffer from acid reflux or not. When not diluted, lemon juice is incredibly acidic and can be harmful to your digestive system as well as your teeth.
Drinking lemon juice diluted with water is another story. This mixture has alkaline-forming properties, which means that it can help soothe your stomach and prevent heartburn after eating.
When making your own lemon water, make sure to add no more than one tablespoon of lemon juice, as it’s very acidic.
Also, try sticking to fresh lemon juice instead of bottled since the latter usually contains added sugars, which aren’t good for you.
Lemons are incredibly acidic, so they will definitely give you heartburn if you eat them. But, while lemons and lemon juice on their own are very acidic, diluting lemon juice with water can actually help you with heartburn.
This is because this mixture is rich in alkalizing minerals and can help dilute the gastric acid present in your stomach.
Lemons are also rich in various vitamins that can help protect your digestive tract and prevent various health issues.
But make sure to drink lemon water in moderation, especially if you often experience heartburn.
Alicia is the senior content editor and writer here at Food FAQ. She has extensive experience with acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and various supplements. When not eating food for “research”, she’s watching “Friends” for the 100th time.