Does Salt Cause Heartburn?

Salt and heartburn connectionThe relationship between dietary habits and heartburn symptoms is evident. The foods we eat can lead to heartburn, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some individuals question whether salt plays a factor in heartburn symptoms. Let’s take a look at two studies which have covered the subject.


Salt and GERD Case Studies

A 2004 Norwegian study showed a correlation between salt intake and GERD, chronic acid reflux that causes heartburn. The study showed that participants who add additional salt to meals were 70% more likely to suffer heartburn than those who did not add additional salt to their meals.1

A 2006 Dutch study showed no significant correlation between salt intake and GERD in healthy people, however, there was a decrease in lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure.2 This could lead us to assume that those already suffering from chronic acid reflux might have increased risk with a high sodium diet. The strength of the LES closure is important in keeping stomach contents in their place, preventing the occurrence of acid reflux. If there is no acid reflux, we eliminate GERD and most all heartburn symptoms.

These two studies do not reach the same conclusion, leaving us to continue questioning the possible correlation of salt and heartburn. Though the question remains unanswered when weighing both studies, you might consider cutting back on your salt intake to see if your heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD symptoms might improve. Due to the fact that foods affect people differently, finding an individual’s heartburn triggers can be a matter of trial and error. Also, consider that many salty foods are greasy, fatty, or processed. It’s always good to eliminate these heartburn trigger foods from your diet.



  1. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health “Lifestyle related risk factors in the aetiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux.
  2. Informa Healthcare: Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology “Effect of dietary sodium chloride on gastro-oesophageal reflux: A randomized controlled trial



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