- Milk has certain benefits for acidity but at the same time, it can worsen it, too.
- Weighing the pros and cons, milk should not be considered for acidity relief.
Our stomach secretes highly acidic gastric juice, which helps in digestion. The inner lining of our stomach can withstand this corrosive acid.
If the stomach acid comes back into the food pipe (oesophagus)—called acid reflux—it causes burning pain in the chest. That is the main symptom of acidity (heartburn).
Three Ways Acidity Can Worsen
- Excess acid secretion: Anything that triggers acid secretion should be avoided or restricted if you suffer from acidity problems.
- Delayed gastric emptying: The food in the stomach moves into the intestines after it is adequately digested—a process called gastric emptying. If it is delayed, the chance of the food coming back into the oesophagus is higher. Anything that slows stomach emptying should be minimised.
- Improper LES closing: This needs some explanation; bear with me.
A strong muscular valve exists between your oesophagus and the top opening of your stomach. It is called Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), and its purpose is to keep the stomach contents from coming back into the oesophagus.
Unlike the stomach, the oesophagus does not have an inner lining that can safely withstand stomach acid. So if LES does not close properly, stomach acid can come back into the oesophagus and cause a burning sensation in the chest. Anything that does not allow LES to close properly can worsen acidity.
So now let us look at where milk stands in terms of these aspects.
Three Milk Ingredients That Affect Acidity
Milk provides eight grams of protein in a glass (250 mL), which is quite high.
- CON: Proteins take a long time to digest, reducing the gastric emptying rate.
Proteins increase the secretion of a hormone called gastrin in the stomach.
- PRO: Gastrin marginally speeds up stomach emptying.
- CON: Gastrin increases stomach acid secretion.
- PRO: Gastrin increases LES valve tightening.
Milk is rich in calcium and its one glass provides 250 mg.
- PRO: Calcium in milk provides immediate relief from acidity symptoms by creating a buffer zone between the stomach lining and the acidic stomach contents. This is possibly the reason why a common person thinks that milk is good for acidity. However, this is a temporary relief.
- PRO: Calcium reduces acid reflux and is a part of many antacid medications. Note that calcium is alkaline in nature but milk itself is slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.6 and 6.8.
- PRO: Calcium is essential for muscle tone and contraction. In people whose LES valve muscles are weak, such as GERD patients, calcium may help LES to contract more tightly and reduce acidity symptoms.
A glass of skimmed milk has 0.5 grams of fat; while that of full-fat milk has 10 grams.
- CON: Fatty foods take more time to digest, increasing the stomach emptying rate.
- CON: Fatty foods relax the LES valve, increasing the chances of stomach contents backing up and worsening acidity.
Consuming non-fat milk can prevent this problem.
Yoghurt or Curd and Acidity
- Since yoghurt and curd are milk products, many of the pros and cons of milk towards acidity apply to them.
- Low-fat yoghurt and curd are marginally better than low-fat milk because they also have healthy bacteria which keep the digestive system healthy. Other than that, they have no more direct bearing on acidity than milk does.
- Milk calcium is beneficial; milk proteins have pros and cons, and milk fats are not good for acidity.
- Milk, yoghurt, or curd may provide immediate relief from acidity symptoms, but no long-term benefit.
- Non-fat milk is better than full-fat milk if you just want temporary pain easing.
- Weighing the evidence, we can conclude that milk is neither helpful nor harmful in acidity.
- You can drink milk if you wish but don’t drink it in the hope of it helping your acidity problem.
To Read More
- Healthline: Does Milk Relieve Heartburn?
- On this Website: Acidity (heartburn): do’s and don’ts
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
First Published on: 30th May 2023
Image Credit: jcomp on Freepik