Yes, buttermilk has been used for centuries to help digestion and relieve acidity.
Health benefits of buttermilk
Buttermilk offers several health benefits, such as:
- Improves oral health. If you take fermented dairy products, like buttermilk, you will benefit from the anti-inflammatory effect, that protects the cells in the skin that line the mouth.
- May reduce blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, the proteins and potassium content of buttermilk can help to reduce blood pressure.
- Helps with bone growth, slows down bone loss, as it contains phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D.
- The probiotic lactic acid in buttermilk can soothe allergic reactions.
- Great for your guts and digestion. Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which makes lactose easier to digest. (see more below)
- and many more
Buttermilk is used in many recipes, it is a popular ingredient in cakes, salad dressings, etc.
Is buttermilk acidic or alkaline?
Buttermilk is slightly acidic, it has a pH of 4.4-4.8, however, it is not very acidic, so it should be safe for people with acid reflux.
The pH of the stomach is usually between 1.5 and 3.5 (very acidic), however, while eating this can increase up to 6. Buttermilk helps to keep the acidity in the ideal range, neither too acidic, nor too alkaline.
Is buttermilk high in fats?
According to Live Science, a cup of buttermilk contains about 2.2 grams of fat, while milk contains about 8 grams.
Actually, about 90% of buttermilk is water, the rest is lactose, protein, and fat.
This relatively low-fat content is great news for people suffering from acid reflux or GERD, as it means it is easier to digest buttermilk than milk.
Is buttermilk good for acidity?
Yes, a cup of buttermilk after large meals has many benefits for people suffering from acidity.
Every time you consume hard-to-digest fatty foods, red meat, fried foods, or spicy foods, you make your body vulnerable to acid reflux and heartburn.
Many people find that buttermilk – or other fermented milk products – is a good remedy for their acid reflux symptoms. Buttermilk helps digestion in two ways:
Buttermilk and acidity
As mentioned above buttermilk is slightly acidic with a pH of around 4.5.
After a large meal, the acidity of the stomach might increase up to a pH of 6. When the pH in the stomach is too high, digestion slows down and this might trigger all kinds of symptoms.
Buttermilk helps to reduce this increased stomach pH and keep it in the ideal range for digestion.
Buttermilk and lactic acid
Buttermilk is a dairy product, and it occurs naturally as a probiotic, meaning that it works well in helping digestion.
A glass of cold buttermilk is a perfect antidote for acidity. This is because buttermilk contains lactic acid. This is how it helps to relived reflux symptoms:
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain bacteria that ensure that there is no bloating or gas build-up. When these two are dealt with, it is unlikely to suffer from acid reflux.
- Coats the stomach: Lactic acid is responsible for soothing the stomach because it coats its lining, thus reducing the symptoms of acid reflux and any irritation resulting from it.
The daily consumption of buttermilk or similar supplements – like yogurt, or probiotic capsules – can be perfect for preventing acid reflux.
Buttermilk for heartburn
Buttermilk is a popular and effective heartburn remedy.
Heartburn happens when stomach acids are allowed to flow back (reflux) into the esophagus. The digestive juices irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing a burning sensation around the middle of the chest, called heartburn.
Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, the chronic form of acid reflux, more than two episodes per week).
The probiotics in buttermilk increase gut motility, which reduces pressure in the stomach, and undigested food spends less time in the stomach. Both of these reduce the risk of heartburn.
Does buttermilk cause gas?
Buttermilk should not cause gas in healthy people when consumed in moderate amounts. On the contrary, it should relieve gas and bloating problems after eating.
This is because buttermilk is full of good bacteria (probiotics) that help digestion and prevent gas forming.
However, some people might experience gas after consuming buttermilk. The possible reasons are:
- If you’ve just started drinking buttermilk and your body is not used to it, the body might need a short adjustment period to get used to the new food and during this period you might experience some gas.
- While moderate amounts prevent gas and bloating, too much buttermilk can cause gas and diarrhea. It can also increase the sodium level of the body, which might trigger other symptoms.
- Even though it is easier to digest buttermilk than milk, those who are lactose intolerant might still experience unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms, like gas.
Substitutes if you have lactose intolerance
Buttermilk might or might not trigger symptoms for people with lactose intolerance. However, if you are allergic to milk, you should avoid buttermilk, too.
Lactose intolerance is a situation where your body is incapable of breaking the lactose in milk.
Buttermilk contains bacteria that help in the digestion of lactose, however, it also contains lactose, so depending on how sensitive you are to lactose, you might experience symptoms.
Possible alternatives are lactose-free buttermilk, or plant-based milks, like:
- soy milk
- almond milk
- rice milk
- coconut milk
Make sure to check the contents of plant-based milks, as it might be very different from cow milk or buttermilk.
To sum up, the probiotics in buttermilk facilitate digestion and neutralize acidity, therefore buttermilk is considered to be an effective and natural heartburn remedy.
Buttermilk can be used to relieve after-eating symptoms like heartburn or chest pain, but it is also effective in preventing the symptoms to develop.
In case you suffer from acid reflux, you might try to drink a glass of buttermilk after meals to see if it helps with your symptoms.
If you have lactose intolerance then buttermilk might need to be substituted with a plant-based alternative or lactose-free dairy products.
Frequently asked questions
A cup of buttermilk a day is safe for most people. If you plan to drink more, you might want to consult with your doctor.
When consumed in large quantities, buttermilk might cause issues:
– the high sodium content of buttermilk can increase blood pressure and cause heart, kidney problems
– too much buttermilk might upset your stomach, causing diarrhea or gas.
Buttermilk reduces acidity, doesn’t cause it. Buttermilk helps to keep the pH of the stomach in the ideal range.
Yes, a cup of buttermilk during or after eating should help to relieve or prevent indigestion.
Yes, buttermilk is full of good bacteria that promote healthy digestion and a healthy gut.
Only if you are lactose intolerant or consume too much buttermilk. A cup of buttermilk shouldn’t cause diarrhea or other symptoms if you are healthy.
Buttermilk might help prevent the formation of stomach ulcers or relieve symptoms for those who have existing ulcers.
This study found that glycopolypeptides from buttermilk help to fight Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria is a common cause of peptic ulcers.
According to FoodData Central, 100g of buttermilk contains 105mg of sodium (~250mg per cup).
The University of California San Francisco defines low sodium food as 140 mg of sodium per serving or less.
Since most people eat too much salt (the main source of sodium), too much buttermilk can further increase the sodium levels in the blood and lead to hypernatremia.