If you suffer from chronic acid reflux (GERD), you should know carrot juice (or any other natural drink) cannot cure your condition!
That said, consuming nutrient-dense and low-acid carrot juice as a part of a well-planned acid reflux diet may help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
In this article, we explain why carrot juice can be an ideal drink for people with GERD.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, located at the lower end of the food pipe, relaxes when it shouldn’t.
This allows stomach acid to leak into the food pipe (esophagus), causing certain symptoms such as heartburn, which refers to the burning sensation in the middle of the chest.
The image below illustrates the function of the lower esophageal sphincter, shortly LES.
Everyone can get heartburn from time to time, and it is quite normal. However, some people experience it frequently.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when acid reflux occurs repeatedly over time, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic acid reflux.
Carrot Juice & Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is often triggered by certain foods. Even foods that are considered healthy such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, oranges or some dairy products may trigger acid reflux symptoms. That is to say, a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables or dairy products doesn’t necessarily mean that the diet is GERD-friendly.
Unlike some healthy foods that have the potential to trigger heartburn, carrots and carrot juice are considered safe for people with chronic heartburn.
This is mainly because carrots (therefore carrot juice) contain almost no fat and are low in acid. Please note that fatty and high-acid foods are common heartburn triggers.
That said, considering carrot juice as a cure for chronic acid reflux (GERD) isn’t realistic. Because, no food or beverage — however healthy — can cure gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; GERD can be controlled with medicines and lifestyle modifications, which include diet changes. If these are not enough, doctors may recommend surgery.
Does Carrot Juice Improve Acid Reflux Symptoms?
Carrot juice can provide the body with many essential nutrients without aggravating acid reflux symptoms. And that makes carrot juice a safe drink for people with GERD.
The question is: in addition to being a safe drink for acid reflux patients, can carrot juice also prevent or relieve heartburn?
To our knowledge, the efficacy of carrot juice in preventing or soothing heartburn hasn’t been tested in scientific studies. So there is no direct evidence that says carrot juice can help prevent or reduce acid reflux symptoms.
However, we shouldn’t forget that carrot juice contains certain nutrients that have been shown to help acid reflux, such as fibre. Besides, carrot juice has alkaline-forming properties.
These suggest that carrot juice may help reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux symptoms. This is especially true if the juice is consumed as a part of a GERD-friendly diet.
How May Carrot Juice Help Heartburn?
- It is an alkaline-forming drink (although it is slightly acidic on the pH scale)
- It is a decent source of fibre
- It is rich in antioxidants
Carrot Juice is Low in Acid and Has Alkaline-Forming Properties
People with chronic acid reflux are usually advised to limit their intake of high-acid foods and prefer low-acid and alkaline foods as much as possible.
This is mainly because acidic foods can contribute to the acidic environment of the stomach, raising the risk of heartburn. Besides, according to the American College of Gastroenterology, consuming acidic foods and beverages can irritate the already damaged lining of the esophagus in people with GERD.
Alkaline foods, on the other hand, can help offset strong stomach acid, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Carrot juice is slightly acidic with a pH value between 5.8 to 6.5. In other words, carrot juice is low in acid. Please note that low-acid fruits and vegetables – including juices – are considered safe for people with GERD.
Besides being low in acid, carrot juice has an alkalising effect in the body as shown in potential renal acid load (PRAL), suggesting that the juice is safe and potentially beneficial for people with acid reflux.
Carrot Juice is a Decent Source of Fiber
Carrot juice contains less fibre than whole carrots, as a certain amount of fibre is lost in the juicing process. But, still, it contains a decent amount of this nutrient.
Carrot juice provides around 2 grams of fibre in 1 cup (240 g), according to the U.S Department of Agriculture.
So how does fibre help acid reflux?
Dietary fibre appears to help improve acid reflux by:
- helping to neutralise stomach acid
- improving esophageal function
Moreover, fibre can provide the feeling of fullness and thus help prevent people from overeating, which is strongly correlated with heartburn.
Studies show that fibre-rich diets can be beneficial for acid reflux sufferers.
For instance, a 2018 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, showed that a fibre-enriched diet reduced acid reflux symptoms and improved esophageal motility.
Carrot Juice is Rich in Antioxidants
Carrot juice contains many plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the human body, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. It also contains the antioxidant beta-carotene. Briefly stated, carrot juice is rich in antioxidants.
A recent study published in the Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine suggests that dietary antioxidants can help decrease stomach acid production, alleviating some symptoms of GERD.
Homemade Carrot Juice is A Better Option!
Store-bought (packaged) carrot juices may contain additives and preservatives, such as lactic and citric acid. For this reason, packaged carrot juices may not be ideal for GERD patients.
So if you are prone to heartburn, try to consume homemade carrot juice, which doesn’t contain extra acid and sugar.
How to Drink Carrot Juice to Prevent or Relieve Heartburn
A 2019 case study suggests that frequent sips of water can help clear acid from the food pipe. Based on that, it should be a good idea to drink water-containing carrot juice by sipping instead of chugging it all down.
Although it shows an alkaline-forming effect in the body, carrot juice is mildly acidic. Therefore, try to avoid drinking carrot juice on an empty stomach.
- According to Cedars Sinai Hospital; Fatty and acidic foods are one of the most common heartburn triggers. Carrot juice contains almost no fat and is an alkaline-forming beverage, which makes the juice relatively safe for GERD patients.
- The fibre content of carrot juice hints that the juice may help prevent or relieve acid reflux symptoms.
- Since homemade carrot juice doesn’t contain additives and preservatives, it should be preferred over store-bought carrot juices.
- Avoid drinking too much carrot juice as eating or drinking anything in excess can result in acid reflux.
- In addition to carrot juice, you can add dates, bananas, ginger, almonds, pistachios, dragon fruit and melon to your diet if you are dealing with frequent heartburn.
- If you think you have GERD, we strongly recommend you work with your doctor.