yogurt; dairy, yogurt for breakfast, special yogurt, Greek yogurt

Q. I have had severe heartburn problems for 15 years. I have tried Nexium, Prilosec and many other over-the-counter medicines.

I knew that coffee triggered my heartburn, but I could not give it up. After one bad attack I started eating yogurt each morning. I’ve been free of heartburn, even after three cups of coffee.

I mentioned this to a friend whose husband also had a severe heartburn problem. He tried eating yogurt each evening, and he has also been heartburn-free.

There must be something in the yogurt that is keeping heartburn at bay. What might it be?

A. Japanese researchers confirm your experience (Pharmaceuticals, June 25, 2014). People with persistent heartburn who had not achieved symptom relief with acid-suppressing drugs took yogurt with active Lactobacillus daily for three months. This probiotic treatment improved symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Although coffee is considered a prime culprit in causing GERD, a recent meta-analysis determined that there is no significant association between heartburn symptoms and coffee intake (Diseases of the Esophagus, May-June, 2014). Despite this research, if you have noted that coffee is a trigger for you, that is worth keeping in mind.

You may be interested in the other remedies for reflux that you will find in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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  1. LF

    I also was having GERD problems and was using Prevacid. Then that stopped working. Along with the GERD, I have always been lactose intolerant and suffered quite a lot when my lactaid pills didn’t work. My doctor suggested I try a probiotic (Align or Floratar).
    Wow, what a difference! No more bloating, heartburn or indigestion AND no more lactose intolerance! I purchased the Align product but it is rather costly – a little over $30 for a month’s supply. My doctor told me to take it daily for 2 weeks, and then as needed. I highly recommend giving it a try.

  2. Mariann

    Can you tell me what brand of yogurt worked for you? I have read that not all yogurts have the amount of live cultures listed on their label. I would love to stop using ppi drugs.

  3. MA

    Love coffee but had the same heartburn problem. Solved it with low acid coffee.

  4. Phil

    Your story about heartburn and yogurt was in Oregonian. Little unsure about the lactobillus part. Is that in the yogurt, or is it an additive? It is not listed on our yogurt. Still I am trying it to see if it helps.

  5. Phil

    This story was published in the Oregonian, so I saw it. Do I have to go buy the lactobaccilus? which according to google is a diarrhea aid. Does not seem to be in my yogurt though it has several ingredients that sound like that. For now will try just the yogurt. I don’t normally have yogurt.

  6. ElsieK

    I’ve been eating yogurt with live cultures (Greek yogurt in recent years) daily for about 20 years at lunch time as well as taking Dan Active, a probiotic drink first thing in the morning and taking 2 different probiotic capsules per day (one with breakfast and one with dinner, each with different live cultures) and I’ve still got chronic heartburn – not GERD, really. It’s the kind of heartburn that makes your chest feel like it will explode and you find it hard to swallow although swallowing is the only real remedy. I have a hiatal hernia which is the probably cause of this heartburn, and it only happens when I’m eating a meal (not every meal, of course. Dinner is when it happens the most).

  7. tja

    How much sugar does the yogurt have if one has heartburn daily and has to take prilosec for relief?

  8. SR

    Will the “active Lactobacillus” be mentioned on the label or is this present in all yogurts?

  9. MFK

    I have worked with several people who were taking PPIs and no longer getting relief. We began alternating days with a high quality probiotic (10 strains and 25 billion/dose). Everyone got relief from the reflux and in a few weeks everyone was able to discontinue the PPIs.

  10. kaf

    For me, a serving of yogurt is a trigger for heartburn. Small amounts occasionally are fine, but a full serving is bad news.

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