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Why Does Yogurt Give Me Heartburn? (3-Minute Read)

Yogurt is a popular food that people eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even as a snack. It’s incredibly versatile as it comes in various flavors, and you can also customize it by adding many delicious ingredients.

While it’s a healthy food choice, some people experience acid reflux-like symptoms after eating yogurt, such as heartburn. So, what is it about yogurt that causes heartburn?

Why does yogurt cause heartburn?

While dairy products aren’t linked to heartburn, high-fat or high-sugar yogurt might relax your upper digestive tract, causing acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn. Because of that, make sure to add such potentially triggering foods to your diet with caution.

For most people, yogurt shouldn’t regularly cause heartburn, so it’s a great addition to a healthy diet as it’s rich in various nutrients.

Is yogurt acidic?

Yogurt has a pH level ranging between 4.40-4.80. Most studies indicate that eating yogurt shouldn’t trigger heartburn, but some people are very sensitive to acidic foods.

What’s more, yogurt is dairy, which is known to be a trigger food for people with acid reflux and GERD. So, it’s important to listen to your body and not consume any acidic trigger foods.

On the other hand, while yogurt isn’t too acidic, whole-fat varieties are. Not only is fat acidic, but it also fills your stomach and slows down digestion, which may lead to heartburn in particularly sensitive individuals.

To avoid that, you can choose low-fat yogurt or add alkaline-forming fruit to your yogurts, such as mangos, papayas, cranberries, plums, or sour cherries. These can help balance out any acidity that comes from the fat in yogurt.

How does yogurt cause heartburn?

Generally, yogurt shouldn’t cause heartburn, but that’s not the case for everyone. As a result, people particularly sensitive to acidic foods should avoid consuming large amounts of yogurt, especially those high in fat and sugar.

These two nutrients tend to be more challenging for your stomach to digest, leading to heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms due to the overproduction of gastric acid.

Consuming too much yogurt, especially the varieties high in fat, may also relax the muscles between your esophagus and stomach.

These muscles help keep the contents of your stomach and gastric acid down, so if they’re relaxed, the stomach acid can rise up to your esophagus, causing heartburn. This is one of the most common reasons that people get heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms.

Yogurt With Spoon
Yogurt With Spoon

On another note, people who suffer from lactose intolerance may experience heartburn-like symptoms after eating dairy products. Even if you only occasionally experience lactose sensitivity, it’s still best to remove yogurt from your diet and replace it with some plant-based alternatives or lactose-free varieties.

On the bright side, some people find that yogurt and other alkaline-forming dairy products might help alleviate heartburn and other acid reflux and GERD symptoms.

This is because they contain ‘good’ gut bacteria and lots of probiotics that help protect the bacterial flora of your stomach.

To reap these benefits, make sure to choose low-fat and low-sugar varieties that don’t contain any unnecessary additives, such as artificial sweeteners.

Is yogurt healthy?

As long as you choose healthy, low-fat kinds, yogurt is a very beneficial addition to any diet. For example, a single serving of plain yogurt provides you with 30% of your daily need for calcium.

Your body requires this mineral to build and keep your bones healthy. It also contributes to heart health and proper nerve function. In addition, along with vitamin D, calcium boosts your immune system, preventing viruses and infections.

Plain yogurt also provides you with a good dose of phosphorus. Your body doesn’t require too much of this mineral, but it’s still very essential for several important bodily functions.

Phosphorus helps your muscles contract, and it also aids in muscle recovery after a hard workout. It’s also responsible for filtering and flushing out waste and harmful chemicals out of your kidneys, which can prevent kidney stones and urinary tract issues.

Greek Yogurt Parfait With Strawberries
Greek Yogurt Parfait With Strawberries

Aside from essential vitamins and minerals, yogurt is rich in probiotics. These live bacteria have several benefits for your digestive system, including treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), preventing bloating, and improving stool frequency.

Probiotics are also recommended during antibiotics treatment to keep your body healthy and replenish the ‘good’ gut bacteria that are destroyed by the antibiotics.

Most varieties of yogurt are rich in protein, an essential macronutrient that contributes to the feeling of fullness after a meal. A diet high in protein also aids in muscle recovery after a workout and helps your muscles grow.

What’s more, since protein helps you stay full after eating, it prevents overeating, which is linked to more severe heartburn symptoms.

As a result, eating foods that provide you with a good dose of protein can help you prevent heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms.

What type of yogurt is the least acidic?

If yogurt sometimes gives you heartburn, try choosing plain varieties without any flavors. The flavoring in yogurt is usually artificial, and it increases your chances of heartburn and other acid reflux-related symptoms.

It’s also a good idea to choose low-fat yogurt as fat tends to force your stomach to produce too much gastric acid. Because of that, full-fat dairy products may irritate your digestive system, leading to heartburn.

Another thing you might do if you enjoy yogurt is to go for Greek yogurt. While it might be higher in fat, it’s creamier and more filling, so you’re less likely to overeat it.

Greek yogurt also has more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt, supporting digestion, weight loss, and even heart health.

Yogurt is a delicious treat that’s not traditionally acid-forming, but it may lead to heartburn in especially sensitive people.

If you’re prone to heartburn but love yogurt, try choosing low-fat plain yogurt and consume it in small quantities, especially since it’s loaded with probiotics and essential nutrients.

Because of that, if your digestive system can tolerate some yogurt, it’s a good idea to add it to your diet.

Don’t know what to drink? We made a list of more than 20 most and least acidic juices and 20+ alcoholic drinks ranked by acidity levels.