Drinking orange juice with gastritis is not good for you, whether it’s fresh, organic orange juice, frozen, reconstituted or concentrate, no-pulp, low-pulp or high-pulp. Because it is naturally acidic with a pH in the range of 3-4, orange juice acts as an irritant and both causes and further accentuates the inflammation of the stomach lining in gastritis. Its acidic nature causes gastritis symptoms to worsen and, depending on intake and frequency of intake, can undo weeks or months of progress in the treatment of the condition.
What is gastritis?
Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining. It can have multiple causes, including H. pylori infections, overuse of medication either required as part of long-term treatment plans or associated with self-medicating practices, or a poor diet abounding in foods that cause acidity. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits and the juices made from them, whether lemons, limes, citron, papeda, yuzu, mandarins or oranges, irritate the stomach lining and cause significant acidity that flares up gastritis.
Symptoms such as stomach pain, indigestion, severe acid reflux from excess stomach acid production, heartburn, bloating and burping are signs the stomach lining is inflamed and indicate gastritis. If the condition is brought on by poor dietary choices, then the best course of action to treating it is eliminating trigger foods from your diet, including the otherwise healthy orange juice. It doesn’t matter if it’s freshly squeezed, frozen, pasteurized, from concentrate or if it has no pulp or lots of it – orange juice is a trigger food for gastritis.
Orange juice and acidity
Why is orange juice bad for gastritis? Because it contains citric acid, a naturally occurring acid that contributes to the inflammation of the stomach lining in gastritis. Citric acid is a weak acid and only found in small amounts in oranges (exact amounts differ according to the variety of the fruit). But, given it is an acid, it possesses irritant properties. Even the small amounts present naturally in the fruit and the resulting juice are enough to produce inflammation of the stomach lining. The more orange juice you have or the more frequently you have it, the more pronounced its irritating effect, especially with an existing gastritis.
Some producers will even add more citric acid to their orange juice than is naturally found in the oranges. This is meant to make the juice taste sharper, more acidic, more refreshing, more like oranges. But by making it more acidic, they are also making it more likely to irritate the stomach lining and, consequently, bad for gastritis.
Orange juice pH
What is the pH of orange juice? Typically low, 3-4, but can go below 3. To compare, the pH of gastric acid ranges from 1.5 to 3.5, low enough to break down food. So orange juice is pretty acidic, hence the reason it fuels gastric acidity and is a trigger for gastritis. The naturally occurring citric acid is what makes it acidic. Citric acid content varies in different types of oranges, some varieties having less of it naturally, while others more. Also, some producers add more citric acid to the juice to enhance its flavor, but by increasing concentration, the pH drops further and it becomes even more acidic.
Orange juice for treating gastritis?
Orange juice is bad for gastritis and honestly does not offer any benefits for an inflamed gastric mucosa. Actually, because it is acidic due to containing citric acid, it is irritating for the stomach lining and increases gastric acid production as a result, which makes it a trigger-food for gastritis. In reality, orange juice and gastric acidity go hand in hand and the juice is more likely to cause gastric problems than offer any relief whatsoever. If it gives the impression of relief, it is only because it is refreshing and tastes good or because it is often chilled prior to consumption. Overall, drinking orange juice to treat gastritis is not smart way of treating an inflamed stomach lining.
Drinking orange juice when you have gastritis is not a good idea. Orange as well as lemon and other citrus juices are classified as trigger-foods (or beverages), the kind that contribute to stomach acidity and cause gastritis flare ups. Within minutes of drinking the juice, you can feel the stomach acidity rising and causing heartburn and discomfort. About half and hour to an hour later, other symptoms such as bloating and constant burping, feeling gassy, regurgitation of gastric juices and other problems are likely to occur. Regular consumption can delay healing of gastritis or even undermine the progress made up to that point.
The worse the gastritis, the stronger the symptoms in response to the citrus juice. The more juice you have at once or the more frequently you have it, the worse the symptoms. Also, drinking orange juice every day in the morning or at any point during the day on an empty stomach in the hope of treating your gastritis can only result in more inflammation of the stomach lining and accentuate symptoms. It’s similar to drinking lemon juice every day in the morning on an empty stomach (and lemons and the juice made from them are even more acidic).
If you must have some orange juice, it’s best to look for one made from clementines or tangerines, two low-acidic orange varieties. Or, if possible, special OJ made from acidless oranges (which is hard to find given that the lack of acidity causes the fruits to spoil quickly, making them less suitable for juice production). And remember to only have very little of it, as a treat (not with regularity) and always after a meal, not on an empty stomach.