If you have acid reflux disease, formally known as GERD, then there are a lot of foods you can’t eat because they are bad for your condition and trigger symptoms. But things can get quite complicated when it comes to deciding what to eat and what not to eat with GERD. There isn’t a clear distinction between the foods that are good for acid reflux and you can eat with GERD and the foods that are bad for acid reflux and elicit symptoms.
This is why you’ll read contradicting information that will put you at a loss when it comes to understanding what you can and cannot eat with GERD. The truth of the matter is that there are two types of foods that are bad for GERD: foods that are bad for GERD that nobody with the condition can eat because they always trigger symptoms (e.g. tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned tuna, matured/aged cheeses, fermented and pickled foods) and foods that are not always bad to eat with GERD, or not bad for GERD if they are consumed in small amounts infrequently (e.g. fresh tomatoes from low acidic varieties, corn, radishes, salmon cooked from fresh etc.).
Where do cherries fall with GERD?
One of the most controversial foods when it comes to GERD are cherries. Some people say they can eat cherries with GERD and do so without experiencing flareups in their condition. Some people say only sweet cherries are good to eat for GERD, while sour or tart cherries elicit their symptoms. Then there’s also the distinction between raw and cooked or otherwise processed fruit: some can only eat cherries if they’re cooked, plainly (boiled, from compote, canned), but never raw.
The same is true for cherries vs cherry juice: while fresh cherries can be tolerated in GERD, cherry juice is usually not. Or not store-bought cherry juice, whether it has additives such as citric acid, flavor enhancing agents or artificial coloring agents, or not.
As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. That is, what may be good for some, or at least not outright bad, is not necessarily good for everyone. This means that while some people may eat cherries with GERD, and do so without risking a flareup in symptoms, some simply can’t. While some can eat sweet and sour cherries, some may only be able to eat sweet cherries. While some can even have a bit of cherry juice every now and then, if it’s made fresh at home, some can’t touch it or else they risk sabotaging their entire progress with acid reflux.
Are cherries good for GERD?
When it comes to foods that are good for GERD, many people get confused by the choice of words. More exactly, when foods are good for GERD it only means they are not bad and do not flare up the condition. Of all the foods listed as good for GERD, none produce actual benefits for the condition as in they heal it. But the sheer fact they do not trigger symptoms is enough to make them good to eat. So if you can eat cherries with GERD, then this is the most they can help with in terms of benefits for the condition.
Yes, cherries, and cherry juice too, are anti-inflammatory foods and extremely healthy. For example, cherries are good for sleep and proven to help with sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and low sleep duration. See the benefits of cherries and cherry juice for sleep.
Cherries are also a good food to eat for gout, and cherries and cherry juice are both good for muscle soreness and pain post-exercise, cramps included, and arthritis. See how cherries and cherry juice help muscle recovery post-workout and what are the benefits of cherries and cherry juice for arthritis pain.
But for GERD specifically, cherries do not hold any measurable benefits. And that’s okay. They remain a healthy food, worth including in your diet regularly, especially when they are in season, just not when you have active GERD.
Are cherries bad for GERD?
Conversely, when foods are noted to be bad for GERD, they actually produce side effects as in they flare up the condition and trigger specific symptoms. Symptoms of GERD include regurgitation of stomach juices, best known as acid reflux, associated heartburn or chest pain, coughing, more specifically a dry cough due to acid reflux, sore throat, hoarseness, a sour or acidic or simply bad taste in the mouth, the feeling of having a lump in the throat or disturbed sleep due to acid reflux at night.
Cherries can be one of those foods that are bad for GERD. It can be just the juice, but not the fruit, both the juice and the fruit, only sour or tart cherry varieties, but not sweet varieties, the fresh fruit only or cherries in all forms and preparations. The extent of side effects depends on the person and the severity of their condition.
At the same time, it’s more likely for sour cherries to cause side effects in GERD compared to sweet cherries. This can be explained by the fact that the sour varieties have a higher content of organic acids. Organic acids are components in fruits that are responsible for tartness, sourness or acidity – sour cherries, oranges, lemons, limes are just a few examples of fruits that are naturally high in organic acids. Organic acids have an irritating effect on the stomach lining and can trigger digestive upset and GERD symptoms.
How well or poorly you are managing your GERD can have a big say in what you can and cannot eat. For example, if you have been strict about your GERD diet and have been avoiding all the recommended foods for a few weeks at least, then it’s quite possible you can eat a bowl of fresh sweet cherries and not experience any side effects as a result.
But if you’ve consistently been sneaking in foods that are bad for GERD and experience no measurable improvements in your condition after weeks of efforts, then eating cherries might not be a good idea at all. GERD can improve considerably with just 3-4 weeks of strict dieting, but that in itself is often a challenge because a GERD diet only allows bland foods that are simply not as appealing.
Do cherries have acid?
One big concern with cherries and GERD is the fruit’s acid content. Because the root problem in GERD is acid reflux, many people think that they should avoid foods that contain acid, or acidic foods – and only these. So they avoid fruits that are overtly acidic such as tomatoes, oranges and sour or tart cherries, and eat fruits that are not overtly acidic, such as pineapple and avocado and sweet cherries. This is true for other classes of foods too.
While there is some truth behind the acid content of foods and GERD, in the sense that acidic foods are bad for GERD because they work up the stomach and trigger reflux, the condition is more than just avoiding foods with acid. For example, pineapple and avocado are typically very bad for GERD, but for reasons other than their content of natural acids.
In pineapple, it’s an enzyme called bromelain that causes digestive upset in GERD, and gastritis too. Whereas in avocado, it’s commonly the fat, the dietary fiber content and the consumption of unripe or underripe fruit that cause flareups.
Also, processed foods (e.g. chips, cold cuts or luncheon meats), fried foods (e.g. French fries, fried fish), foods high in fat and heavy foods (e.g. pork, game, organ meats), fermented foods (e.g. sour yogurt, buttermilk, pickles, hard cheeses), aged foods (e.g. aged cheeses) are just a few of the types of foods that are bad for GERD. And they don’t all have acid.
Can you eat cherries with GERD or is it better to avoid them? Are sweet cherries good for GERD, but sour cherries bad? If you are concerned with whether or not you should be eating cherries if you have GERD, then know that there are some aspects to consider.
One, if your condition is not severe and is currently well managed, then you can try eating sweet cherries, fresh or cooked (e.g. compote) and see how you respond. Do keep to small intakes at first and don’t eat cherries every single day from the start until you’ve figured out if you tolerate them or not. But if your condition is severe and it feels like too many foods are triggering your symptoms, then maybe delay introducing fresh fruit such as cherries in your diet until your condition improves.
Two, remember that people respond differently to foods so what may be good for someone else may not necessarily be good for you too. With this in mind, don’t force anything and don’t feel bad. It may be that cherries are a GERD friendly food and you tolerate them well. It’s possible that you can eat sweet cherries with GERD, but not sour or tart cherries. Or you only tolerate the fresh fruit or the cooked fruit. Or you just cannot have cherries. Whatever the case, it’s okay. Go with what works for you.
This post was updated on Tuesday / June 22nd, 2021 at 12:55 AM