If you were thinking about eating cherries or drinking cherry juice before bed for better sleep, but have acid reflux disease, you might want to reconsider. Cherries and acid reflux would not normally sound like a bad combination, but it is possible for cherries and cherry juice to cause acid reflux and heartburn. While cherries in general are nutritious and good for you, not all varieties are good for acid reflux. In an established disease, eating too many cherries or drinking too much cherry juice can cause acid reflux. Sour or tart cherries and tart cherry juice are worse for acid reflux than sweet varieties, and cherry juice is worse than whole fruits.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is when stomach juices escape into the esophagus and make their way up into the throat and sometimes also the mouth. Repeated episodes of acid reflux indicate acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Typically, 2-3 episodes of acid reflux per week are an indication of acid reflux disease. Acid reflux can have many causes, including physical abnormalities (e.g. hiatal hernia) and lifestyle and dietary factors. The backflow of stomach juices is corrosive and a source of inflammation and damage to the throat lining.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
How to tell if you have acid reflux? If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you may have acid reflux:
- Regurgitation of acidic stomach juices and/or contents.
- Heartburn, or a burning feeling in the middle of the chest (due to regurgitation of stomach juices).
- Bloating, burping, hiccups.
- Sore throat (caused by irritation to the throat lining due to the regurgitation of stomach juices).
- A bad taste in the mouth, metallic, acidic or sour, and bad breath.
- Excess salivation (the body’s way of counteracting the damage caused by the acid reflux.
- Hoarseness (due to damage to the vocal cords as a result of regurgitating acidic stomach juices).
- Dry cough which occurs as stomach juices escape into the throat. Find out more about acid reflux and coughing.
- Laryngospasms or tingling sensation in the back of the throat (which triggers a dry acid reflux cough).
- Nausea and vomiting, especially early in the morning when you wake up or before and after eating.
- Sore tongue – the entire tongue may be sore or just the back of the tongue.
- Sensation of a lump in the throat and difficulty swallowing.
What are some of the worst foods for acid reflux?
In general, the foods to avoid eating for acid reflux are fatty, fried, highly acidic and excessively spicy or heavily seasoned foods as well as highly processed foods. These may include chips or crisps, cold meats or cold cuts such as salami, mortadella and sausages, pork roast, lasagna, fried chicken, coffee, alcohol, cocoa, chocolate and otherwise healthy food options such as fermented dairy and aged cheeses, salmon, canned tuna, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato juice, onions, broccoli, garlic, citrus fruits and citrus juices, and fruit and vegetable juices in general. Find out more about what foods to eat and to avoid for acid reflux.
Are cherries good for acid reflux or bad?
If you don’t have acid reflux, cherries are a good food to eat for better health in general and will not cause the onset of the disease. But in an established disease which causes you to experience 2-3 episodes of acid reflux a week, cherries and cherry juice in particular are not good for you. Just as important, cherries are not fruits to actively combat acid reflux so eating them won’t make your acid reflux go away by any means.
However, not all cherries and not all cherry preparations are bad for acid reflux. Eating fresh sweet cherries in reasonable amounts can be good for acid reflux disease in the sense that it shouldn’t cause regurgitation of stomach juices, but contribute to daily nutritional requirements. But while sweet cherries are good, sour or tart cherries and cherry juice in general can cause stomach acidity. The severity of the reflux is often directly proportional to the intake.
Overall, you can eat a serving of fresh cherries, sweet and even tart, with acid reflux, but not at night and not before bed (the fruit are best eaten during the day while you’re still up and about). But cherry juice, sweet and especially tart, is more likely to cause stomach acidity, moreso if consumed at night before bed or anytime before lying down. So tart cherry juice is definitely not what you would want to drink for acid reflux, and neither is sweet cherry juice for that matter (fresh, from concentrate or reconstituted).
As a general rule, all fruit juices tend to be bad for acid reflux, not just cherry. Fruit juices concentrate the naturally occurring acids from the fruit, not to mention they are consumed in larger amounts than recommended because they are liquid and often sweet tasting and thus easy to ‘overeat’.
Do cherries have acid?
Yes, both sweet and tart cherry varieties have acid in the form of naturally occurring organic acids such as ascorbic acid (or vitamin C), malic acid etc. But of the two kinds of cherries, sweet and tart, the first tend to be easier on the stomach and less likely to cause acid reflux flareups. This is because sweet cherries are naturally lower in organic acids, hence their sweet taste and the reason they are less likely to upset the stomach.
Tart cherries on the other hand are higher in organic acids, hence their sour, acidic taste. The higher content of organic acids in tart cherries is what causes the regurgitation and backflow of stomach juices. And because the organic acids get transferred in the cherry juice, and a serving of juice is the equivalent of eating more than one serving of whole cherries, not to mention it’s easy to drink more servings of juice, acid reflux is more likely. Find out more about the benefits of black cherries and the benefits of yellow cherries.
Do you have acid reflux disease? If so, are cherries something you should eat with acid reflux? Are some varieties of cherries good for acid reflux and others bad? For one, no fruits, cherries included, actively combat acid reflux. At most, the choice of fruits helps not make an existing acid reflux worse.
Cherries themselves are not actively good for acid reflux disease, but some varieties can at least not make the condition worse. For example, sweet cherries are a better choice than tart cherries because of their low content of organic acids. But while cherries are not the worst foods you can eat for acid reflux, cherry juice, especially tart cherry juice, is something to avoid in acid reflux disease. As are fruit juices in general.