FAQ: Is Green Tea Acidic, and is it Bad for Acid Reflux?
One of the most sensitive parts of our anatomy is the stomach, which is responsible for processing the food we consume and is a sensitive biome for specific beneficial bacteria. The delicate balance of our gastrointestinal system requires careful maintenance and care to ensure we do not suffer ailments. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the most commonly available foods are rich in acids, fats, and other unhealthy substances that can disrupt our gastrointestinal health.
Caring for our gastrointestinal health requires a well-balanced diet and understanding what disrupts the balance. One of the biggest things to avoid is a diet rich in acidic foods and drinks that could irritate our digestive tract. The irritation caused by acidic food and drink is especially troublesome if you suffer from acid reflux.
Dealing with acid reflux is a deeply unpleasant condition that is both uncomfortable and harmful. It also leaves an unpleasant taste in our mouths sometimes, which drives many to seek a way to bury it. Generally, when people feel unwell, they use green tea to soothe their stomachs and heal. While this practice is common and has merit, there might be disadvantages to using green tea to improve health when dealing with acid reflux. There have been concerns that green tea's acid levels might exacerbate acid reflux and make the condition less tolerable than it would have been otherwise. Whether this is true is a topic that requires consideration.
What is Acid Reflux?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, is a common health issue that causes the acid in our stomachs to travel up our throats. The stomach and mouth are connected by a tube called the esophagus, the same tube our food travels through to reach our stomachs for the digestive process.
Despite being the travel point for the various foods and beverages we consume, there are limitations to the esophagus' durability that make it sensitive to irritation. Acid reflux involves the stomach acid washing back up our esophagus, which wears away at the lining that protects it from damage. We all experience acid reflux in some capacity, and it is not a big deal in short intervals. The problem is that GERD is a type of chronic acid reflux.
GERD is accompanied by several symptoms that can help determine whether you have standard acid reflux or full-blown GERD. These symptoms are:
- Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest. Heartburn usually flares after eating and is at its worst at night or when lying down.
- Backwash: The regurgitation of food or a sour-tasting liquid.
- Pain: This symptom manifests in the chest or upper abdomen.
- Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.
- Globus Sensation: The sensation of having a "lump" in your throat.
These symptoms usually indicate GERD, and nighttime acid reflux can include additional symptoms like laryngitis or asthma. These symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and lead to more serious complications if not addressed. You might think GERD is unlikely to be an issue, but the truth is that it can affect anyone, and multiple risk factors make you more likely to develop GERD. GERD is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter overstretches or weakens from overuse. The lower esophageal sphincter is a band of muscle wrapped around the bottom of the esophagus. When we swallow, the band relaxes, allowing food and drink to traverse the esophagus before closing again.
When the lower esophageal sphincter is compromised, it causes the acid in our stomach to rise back up because the esophagus does not seal as it should. The band can wear out over time due to age, but several habits and conditions significantly contribute to the odds of developing GERD. The health conditions that increase the odds of GERD include:
- Hiatal Hernia
- Connective Tissue Disorders
- Delayed Stomach Emptying
The risk factors that aggravate acid reflux include:
- Late-Night Eating
- Eating Fried or Fatty Foods
- Drinking Alcohol or Coffee
- Certain Medications
The number of risk factors and contributing conditions exacerbating GERD make it a common concern for the average person. Therefore, ensuring you do not aggravate a pre-existing condition is critical to your recovery and health. While we have outlined some habits that might exacerbate your GERD, other potential factors could have the same effect. The question of the hour is whether green tea is one of those substances or is safe for consumption while coping with chronic GERD.
Is Green Tea Acidic?
Green tea is an extremely popular beverage that has become a staple of modern breakfasts worldwide. However, green tea is used for more than just an early morning drink to start the day off right. It has long served as a tool in holistic medicine that helped treat conditions before modern medicine existed. Is green tea acidic? Can it exacerbate acid reflux?
The bad news is that green tea is acidic, but the good news is that the acidity is very low, with a pH of between 7 to 10. This means green tea is substantially less acidic than black coffee or black tea.
Unfortunately, there is more bad news since green tea can still cause spikes of acid reflux that are less than pleasant. What is truly interesting is that the negative effects of green tea, insofar as acid reflux is concerned, are not because of the tea itself. The problem with green tea and acidity is that green tea contains caffeine, which is known to increase our body's secretion of gastric acid. This means that the more caffeine you consume, the more acid there is in your gastrointestinal system. As a result, there is a higher chance that acid will travel up your esophagus because of your GERD.
Fortunately, the amount of caffeine in green tea is substantially less than in coffee. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an average 8 oz. cup of coffee contains between 80 and 100 milligrams of caffeine. Conversely, an 8 oz. cup of green tea contains between 30 and 50 milligrams of caffeine. This lower caffeine concentration can slow its effect on gastric acid production levels. Unfortunately, this does not prevent the effect entirely, and consuming green tea can lead to higher levels of gastric acid. If you have GERD, consuming anything with caffeine must be done carefully to ensure your gastric acid levels remain manageable.
This is not to say you have to give up caffeine completely if you have GERD as long as it comes from coffee or tea. This is because no scientific evidence links coffee or tea consumption to exacerbated GERD symptoms. A study was conducted in 2013 to determine the effects of coffee on GERD and discovered that there were no observable consequences of consuming coffee while dealing with GERD. Despite the lack of evidence, most physicians still advise patients with GERD to avoid drinking coffee.
It is worth noting that some people claim that coffee and other caffeinated drinks do trigger their GERD symptoms. Professor Lauren B. Gerson of Stanford University has gone on record to confirm that caffeine consumption is not linked to GERD. Nevertheless, she has advised those with GERD to keep a log of the food and drink that aggravates their symptoms. While more research is needed, there seems to be anecdotal evidence that GERD symptoms can be exacerbated by caffeine in certain people while others have no issues.
Therefore, our advice for you regarding consuming green tea with GERD is to take things slowly. Have a small cup of green tea to see if it triggers your GERD symptoms, and ensure you moderate your intake. There are options for treating GERD that can suppress the symptoms, but if green tea triggers your condition, you could undo your progress. If you can consume small quantities of green tea, you will still be able to reap the benefits it offers for energy. Regardless, you might have to make other dietary sacrifices to balance things out biologically and minimize the factors that can impact your GERD.
Other Ways to Treat GERD
GERD is an extremely common condition, and the idea that it could prevent you from enjoying the benefits of green tea might seem unfair. While no direct evidence proves that green tea triggers the symptoms, that does not mean you should throw caution to the wind. You can still enjoy green tea if you are careful and ensure minimal odds of it triggering GERD symptoms. The best way to do this is to seek treatment for your GERD and eliminate other potential triggers. To start, you will want to eliminate the following items from your diet:
- Tomatoes (and their byproducts)
- Spicy food (i.e., chili peppers)
- Acidic food (i.e., citrus fruits)
- Fatty Food
These products have been known to exacerbate GERD symptoms, though they share the same lack of evidence as caffeine. Ultimately, it varies by person, and you might not experience symptoms of GERD after consuming some or all of these foods. However, removing these foods from your diet can improve your overall health and keep your body in a better state to resist the symptoms of GERD. This means fewer factors contribute to your condition, and green tea will be slightly less likely to cause symptoms to manifest.
This will not necessarily be enough to protect you against GERD, and you will likely have to take other steps to improve your health. There are official guidelines designed to help people manage their conditions. The most common recommendations for managing GERD are:
- Commit to a weight loss routine to minimize the effects of obesity-induced GERD. This recommendation is exclusively for GERD patients who are overweight rather than those who are at a healthy weight.
- Raise the head of the bed by 6 to 8 inches via foam wedges or blocks to keep your esophagus elevated. This will reduce the odds of GERD flaring up while you are sleeping.
- Avoid eating for 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed. This minimizes digestive activity and prevents gastric acid from being disturbed by bodily functions.
Managing the factors that impact your GERD will allow you to minimize the effect green tea has on the condition. If you are committed to using green tea for your energy needs, finding a healthy and natural green tea product is key to ensuring any potential effects it has on your GERD are minimal.
Finding the Right Blend
Green tea is an incredibly healthy substance that has become beloved by billions of people worldwide. Green tea has a longstanding role in holistic health, turning it into a major tool in modern society. Unfortunately, the caffeine content found in green tea makes its use questionable to those suffering from GERD.
While the evidence supporting that caffeine, and by extension green tea, exacerbates GERD is lacking, it might be considered too risky to some. The best thing to do is to ensure the circumstances are ideal by altering diet and lifestyle choices to keep the symptoms at bay. Additionally, ensuring the green tea product you use is completely natural will ensure other substances do not enhance the caffeine concentration. The trick is finding a product that meets those criteria.
We at Teami have dedicated ourselves to providing natural products that allow you to improve your health and beauty. Among our range of products is our Boost Tea Blend, which offers all the important nutrients you need to stay energized throughout the day. If you have GERD, follow the serving size carefully since this product contains green tea and peppermint. If you optimize your lifestyle to minimize the number of products allegedly exacerbating GERD, you should not experience symptoms. Nevertheless, we urge you to take it slow and exercise caution. And as always, regardless of your decision, remember that finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
Do you have any questions about green tea, its acidity, or anything else we mentioned in this article? If so, you're always more than free to reach out and contact us. We'd be happy to answer any and all of your questions as best we can.
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