Which wines are better choices if I have acid reflux?

Feb 17, 2011

Q: I love wine. My favorite is Merlot, but I also like some white wines. After drinking wine, however, I have trouble with acid reflux. Is there a wine out there that would not affect my acid reflux so much? Please advise.—Joan

A: According to Dr. David A. Johnson, a fellow and past president of the American College of Gastroenterology and chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, wine is on the list of liquids to avoid for those who have acid reflux (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD), but that doesn't mean that all patients need to abstain entirely.

"Issues of GERD and types of wine that may aggravate symptoms may be very individual specific and should not be broad based recommendations," Johnson said. Even making generalizations about red and white wine is difficult, he noted: "Although there are some studies which have suggested, for example, that white wine may be worse than red wine for lowering the pressures in the esophagus," says Johnson, "these studies would not meet the present day 'rules of evidence' to make such a recommendation."

Johnson advises knowing your body and what causes your own acid reflux. If wine exacerbates your GERD, be sure to take an acid-blocker medication before sitting down to enjoy a glass. There are both prescription and non-prescription medications available, but make sure to talk to your own doctor to come up with a plan regarding the consumption of wine. Focusing on issues beyond food and beverage triggers may be helpful too. Johnson says that losing weight, even just a few pounds, is particularly helpful in managing GERD, allowing people to enjoy the "finer consumptions."

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