Cool Foods for Your Summer Heartburn

cookout, summertime cookouts, barbecue pros and cons, how to cook healthy cookout meal, preparing healthy barbacue, barbecue and indigestion

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

June 26, 2017

  • Some hot weather foods could trigger heartburn
  • Delicious summer foods that won’t fight back
  • Keep your cool with these fresh, icy beverages

I love a great summer cookout just as much as anyone else. But I have to admit. The foods don’t always agree with my digestive system.

Like anyone else, eating too much red meat and spicy dips can come back later to haunt me in the form of heartburn. Citrus salads, lemonade and iced tea only add to the problem.

Thankfully, there are ways to get around these digestive disturbances. And today I’m going to share a few of these tricks with you.

You see, the foods we eat during the summer are often quite different than the ones we enjoy during the cooler months. They can easily trigger a round of seasonal heartburn or acid reflux.

The reason is pretty simple. Many of them lower the pH levels in your stomach, making the environment more acidic. When you eat too many of them, it causes stomach acid to bubble up into your esophagus. This is what creates the burning sensation in your chest and at the back of your throat.

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Some of the top culprits of this irritating condition are foods and beverages that we all enjoy when the weather warms up… citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, steaks and burgers fresh off the grill; alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and fruit juices.

In other words, that perfectly grilled burger topped with tomatoes, onions and ketchup may taste great at the time. But it could send you into a fit of heartburn within a matter of hours.

So let’s take a look at some refreshing ways to enjoy your summer fun… without the heartburn.

Delicious Summer Foods that Won’t Fight Back

I don’t eat a lot of red meat – even if it’s grass-fed. But it’s hard to resist a steak or burger when it’s fresh off the grill and smells so delicious.

Well, here’s the thing. The high fat content in red meat makes it very hard to digest, so it stays in your stomach longer than many other foods. This means your stomach will remain acidic for longer periods of time.

That’s why I always choose lean grass-fed meats for my grill. I also like to include less fatty animal proteins such as pasture-raised poultry, fresh wild-caught fish and a couple of hands full of wild-caught shrimp.

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At the same time, I’m a great lover of citrus fruits. Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than the tangy sweet taste of antioxidant-rich oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. Unfortunately, these healthy heat-quenchers are known to trigger acid reflux.

What can you do instead?

Try your hand at a cooling mixed melon salad. Just fill your bowl with cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Add a little kiwi and you’re good to go. (Green salads are also a welcome addition to anyone’s summer menu – as long as you leave off the acid-promoting tomatoes and onions.)

And speaking of tomatoes…

These juicy red bundles of joy aren’t just great on burgers. They’re also tasty on salads and make a delicious salsa.

But like citrus fruits, tomatoes promote acid reflux. And while I haven’t tried it, some of my patients who avoid nightshade vegetables like tomatoes tell me that roasted or grilled zucchini, squash and mushrooms make great replacements.

And I have to admit… the idea of a lean, grass-fed burger topped with grilled zucchini and mushrooms actually sounds just as appetizing, if not more so, than one topped with tomato and onion.

Cooling Summertime Beverages

A glass of sparkling water topped with a slice of lemon sounds like the perfect summer drink. Unfortunately, both the carbonation and the lemon can lead to heartburn. The same can be said for sodas and sparkling juices.

The reason is pretty simple. The carbonation in these beverages places a great deal of pressure on your esophagus. This, in turn, promotes reflux.

Citrus drinks, such as orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemonade can also result in reflux. The same goes for coffee, traditional tea and alcoholic beverages.

This may sound like you’re limited to drinking water, which is always good for you, but there are also plenty of other cooling beverages you can check out.

Personally, I’m very fond of herbal teas. And there are several, such as chamomile, ginger and licorice teas that can actually soothe heartburn and reflux symptoms. All of these taste great over ice.

If you want something a little more exciting, try a homemade smoothie using low-acid fruits and plain Greek yogurt. Mango, banana, cherries and most berries are all good choices to add to a smoothie.

As far as alcohol is concerned, it’s best to avoid it altogether. However, if you do choose to partake, sticking to beverages with low alcohol content and sipping water between refills could help you avoid gastric distress later.


Jarosz M, et al. Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease: the role of diet. Prz Gastroenterol. 2014; 9(5): 297–301.

Kubo A, et al. Dietary guideline adherence for gastroesophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014 Aug 14;14:144.

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