Pineapple and acid reflux: Is it helpful or harmful?
Pineapple is an acidic fruit. For some people, eating acidic foods worsens acid reflux. However, pineapple also contains an enzyme that some believe could help with digestion.
Pineapple is a natural source of bromelain, which helps to break down proteins. Some people take bromelain as a digestive aid, and some report finding it eases the symptoms of some digestive conditions.
However, there is a lack of scientific research proving that bromelain supplements, or eating pineapple fruit, can reliably help to treat acid reflux. People may have to use trial and error to determine if pineapple is OK for them.
This article examines the relationship between pineapple and acid reflux, as well as the potential side effects of eating pineapple or using bromelain supplements, and other dietary changes that might help.
Yes, pineapple is acidic. A score of 7 on the pH scale is neutral, while scores lower than 7 are acidic, and scores higher than 7 are alkaline. Most edible fruits have pH levels ranging between 3 and 5, making them acidic.
For pineapple, the acidity can vary depending on how a person stores it, at what temperature they consume it, and other factors. For example, the pH of pineapple juice may range between 2.51 and 3.91, depending on whether people store it in a freezer, refrigerator, or at room temperature.
Whether pineapple helps or worsens acid reflux may depend on the individual, as people who are prone to this symptom can have different triggers.
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux, occurs when the stomach contents travel back toward the throat, causing a burning feeling in the chest and in the throat.
Some people find that acidic foods, such as pineapple, make the reflux worse by increasing the amount of acid in the stomach.
However, for others, other foods and drinks are more of an issue. People may need to try removing pineapple from their diet, then reintroducing small amounts of it, to see if it has any negative effect.
Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a digestive enzyme that can help to break down food, specifically proteins. This has led some people to speculate that eating pineapple or taking bromelain supplements, could help with digestive conditions.
However, there is currently no scientific evidence that either eating pineapple or taking bromelain can reliably help acid reflux.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is insufficient research to determine whether bromelain is effective for digestive problems or other conditions.
Pineapple has many important nutrients, for those who can eat it. It is high in vitamin C, and is also a source of manganese and copper.
While there is not much evidence bromelain helps with acid reflux, there is some evidence it could have other health benefits. Bromelain may:
Although studies show promising results, though, more research on pineapple’s therapeutic potential is necessary before doctors can recommend it for any condition.
Pineapple is safe to eat in moderation for most people. Some people may experience a sore mouth after eating pineapple due to its acidity and enzyme content, though.
For those taking bromelain, the most commonly reported side effects are an upset stomach and diarrhea. Excessive consumption may cause adverse effects, such as:
Bromelain may interact with certain drugs, and some evidence suggests it may increase their absorption. Anyone using prescription medications should check with a doctor before taking bromelain supplements, particularly if they take:
People can also be allergic to pineapple or bromelain. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions may cause an itchy rash, but more severe reactions can be medical emergencies.
People are more likely to be susceptible to allergic reactions from bromelain if they also have allergies to any of the following:
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:
If someone has these symptoms:
Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.
Although certain foods may increase a person’s risk of acid reflux, little evidence suggests that specific foods relieve it.
A doctor may recommend avoiding or reducing certain foods to see if acid reflux symptoms improve. It may help to work with a dietitian to eliminate these foods one at a time, as this may help a person identify the main causes of the reflux.
Some common triggers can include:
If a person experiences acid reflux frequently, they may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This requires treatment from a doctor. Without treatment, frequent reflux can have adverse effects, such as damaging the esophagus or the teeth.
Learn more about diet for acid reflux and GERD.
Pineapple is an acidic food. Due to its acidity, some people with acid reflux may find that eating pineapple worsens their symptoms.
However, different dietary changes can work for individuals with acid reflux or GERD. Some may be able to continue eating pineapple with no adverse effects.
There is currently no research showing that the bromelain in pineapple has any benefit for people with acid reflux.