However, as gastroenterologist Peyton Berookim, MD explains, citrus fruits also contain high amounts of citric acid, which is what gives them a sour taste. And for this reason there seems to be some confusion about whether or not it is okay to eat citrus fruits on an empty stomach. According to Dr. Berookim, people often come to him with questions such as: Is citric acid okay on an empty stomach? Are citrus fruits good in the morning? And can we eat citrus fruits on an empty stomach?
In most cases, the answer to all of these questions is yes, according to Dr. Berookim and gastroenterologist Mark Pimentel, MD, an associate professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Cedars-Sinai. “The stomach is a very acidic place,” says Dr. Pimentel. “So for most people, citrus fruits are not a problem.” For every rule, however, there are exceptions.
Who should not consume citrus fruits on an empty stomach
Eat citrus fruits when you have no food in your stomach can is a problem if you have a history of significant heartburn (otherwise known as GERD), explains Dr. Pimentel. “Partly because you drink an acidic drink and your food tube, or esophagus, is already irritated because of your GERD condition,” he says. “Second, because by adding more acid and more liquid volume, you can have more reflux.”
An excellent treatment for acid reflux or “sour stomach” is alkaline water, says Dr. Berookim. “Consuming four to five glasses of alkaline water can significantly improve heartburn symptoms,” he recommends.
Dr. Berookim also warns that it is not just citrus fruits or the juice that people with acid reflux should be careful about consuming. “It’s not just citric acid in juice drinks [and fruits], but also in carbonated drinks — it is added to soft drinks for flavor, ”he says. “Some flavored carbonated waters also contain citric acid, but in much lower amounts.” So consider these drinks if you are experiencing acid reflux or GERD.
Dilute citrus juice in water
All fruits contain very different amounts of citric acid, making them more or less sour against sweets. This is, of course, why drinking a glass of OJ is enjoyable, while drinking lemon or lime juice would make most mouths tremble. According to the two gastroenterologists, this is good news for those who suffer from GERD.
“Many people with acid reflux may be able to tolerate pineapple or apricot juice, as the citric acid content of these fruits is not as high,” says Dr. Berookim. “In addition, apple and grape juices have lower amounts of citric acid.”
At the other end of the acidic spectrum are citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes, which is why people often add them to water to dilute their sour taste. However, it is important to keep in mind that mixing lemon juice with water will not actually change anything to change the citrus acid content. “The chemistry of acid is that water is not a buffer,” says Dr. Pimentel. “The pH, a measure of acid, does not change with the volume of water.”
That said, as long as you do not have heartburn problems, drinking diluted citrus juice, such as lemon or lime juice, will not be a problem, whether you have eaten something or not, adds Dr. Pimentel. And if that means drinking more water, then Dr. Berookim definitely says, squeeze some citrus juice into your H2O. “Drinking clean water first thing in the morning is better,” he says, “but this can be difficult for some people who prefer water with a certain taste. “In this case, it is acceptable to drink water with lemon, if this is the way to promote adequate hydration.”
Conclusion? If lemon is your main ingredient in the morning – or you can not imagine starting your day without OJ – doing it with (or without) food is perfectly fine, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
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