Diet & Lifestyle
December 18, 2023

Lemon Is BAD For Acid Reflux

Diet & Lifestyle

At-A-Glance

  • While there certainly may be health benefits derived from consuming lemon, it is the absolute worst thing for you if you have acid reflux.
  • Indeed, at pH 2.7, lemon is the most acidic food in nature … and the same pH (acidity) as stomach acid. And BTW, lime is also pH 2.7.
  • There are misleading articles on the Internet that suggest that drinking lemon juice can have an alkalizing (beneficial) effect on digestion … this idea falls into the category of Internet bullsh*t … lemon can never help acid reflux.
  • Why is lemon bad? When you reflux, along with acid, up comes acid and a nasty stomach enzyme, pepsin, which attaches itself wherever it lands. Ah, but pepsin requires acid activation, so when you drink something acidic like lemon juice, pepsin starts the process of self-digestion.
  • Getting rid of pepsin, the primary goal of antireflux therapy, requires an alkaline diet, period!  And by the way, the idea, “I don’t have enough stomach acid,” is more Internet bullsh*t … low stomach acid is not a thing.

Respiratory Reflux (RR) and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)are synonyms, and the terms can be used interchangeably. Going forward, I prefer the term RR, and so should you: it is easier to pronounce, more intuitive, and it implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.

There may be health benefits derived from consuming lemon — mostly from the flavonoids and vitamin C — which you can take in pill form. However, if you have acid reflux, lemon is the worst thing for you; it is the most acidic food in nature. At pH 2.7, lemon has the same pH (acidity) as stomach acid, and it is bad for both esophageal and respiratory reflux. By the way, lime is also pH 2.7 … avoid!

There are misleading articles on the Internet that suggest that drinking lemon juice can have an alkalizing (beneficial) effect on digestion … this idea falls into the Internet bullsh*t category. “Lemon water may help some people with acid reflux as it may help digestion and neutralize stomach acid when mixed with ingredients like honey,” Don’t Believe It! Lemon can never help acid reflux. 

Incidentally, the idea that you do not have enough stomach acid is almost never true, unless you have a rare condition called pernicious anemia. The low acid thing seems to be being propagated mostly by naturopaths … and actually every recommendation in that article is wrong with zero data to back any of them up. For “low stomach acid!? Bad idea #1: Take HCL … take acid for acid reflux, really? Bad idea #2: Take digestive enzymes … just so you know this is 100% snake oil … those products do nothing at all. Bad idea #3: apple cider vinegar … if you’re going to do this, you might as well drink lemon water.

Taking Anything Acidic for Acid Reflux is Outrageous

When I wrote Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure, that was the first time anyone had linked the words reflux, diet, and cure together in the same sentence. Indeed, we have scientifically proven that literally “dropping acid,” an alkaline diet, is essential for healing reflux.

When you reflux, up comes acid as well as a nasty stomach enzyme, pepsin, which attaches itself to your vocal cords, throat, sinuses … wherever it lands; but pepsin requires acid activation. So, when you drink something like lemon juice, your pepsin start the process of self-digestion. Most people don’t know that the inflammation and tissue damage from “acid reflux” is due to pepsin; see What Is Pepsin and related pepsin blog posts.

Perhaps “acid reflux” should be renamed “peptic reflux.” And getting rid of pepsin in and on your tissue, especially ears, nose, voice box, throat, sinuses, breathing tubes, and lungs, is the primary goal of antireflux treatment; see also Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet.

In conclusion: Lemon is a big no-no if you have acid reflux … avoid! Also, stay away from other acids like limes, HCL, apple cider vinegar, and soft drinks.

For more information about diagnosis and treatment of reflux laryngitis, see my two companion books on Amazon: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure and Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet. And, if you would like to schedule a virtual consultation with me, you can book it online.

Books by Dr. Koufman

Subscribe to the Newsletter Now!

join the email list now to get notified about new blog posts & books from dr. koufman

Subscribe