Heartburn, or GERD, is a very common ailment that affects millions of people each day. It can feel a burning in the chest that occurs after eating or at night, worsens when bending over or lying down, and an acidic or bitter taste in the mouth. The discomfort is either gone in minutes or it can last for hours. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus when normally the lower esophageal sphincter closes when food enters the stomach.
The nice thing is that heartburn can be avoided, or at least diminished, if you watch out for the following trigger foods.
1. Acidic fruits
These foods can cause problems because they are so acidic, which can hurt an empty stomach. Some acidic fruits include lemon juice, limes, grapes, pomegranates, blueberries, grapefruits, and pineapples.
Tomatoes are great until you realize that they are naturally high in acid and can cause acid reflux as they are digesting. This means that you should avoid ketchup, salsa, and sauces that contain tomatoes.
3. Garlic and onions
Although garlic and onions have many health benefits, they are also known for causing heartburn. Foods from the allium family (i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, etc.) can cause GERD if the person is prone to it.
4. Spicy foods
Spicy foods can affect the acid levels in the stomach and create a hostile environment that can cause acid reflux. The problem lies with pepper or capsaicin and those spices can cause heartburn.
Mint candies and tea are used to settle upset stomachs, but it may worsen heartburn. It can relax the esophageal sphincter muscle and cause stomach acid to irritate the esophagus. Instead, try ginger tea which is known to reduce nausea.
6. Fatty foods
Foods like nuts, cheese and meat are high in fat. Fat empties from the stomach slowly and can cause problems with a distended stomach. This creates more pressure on the esophageal sphincter and can cause a burning sensation.
Enjoying a glass of red wine or a pint of beer with dinner is a lovely way to unwind, but not if you experience heartburn. Alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter allowing stomach acid to climb up. If you still want to enjoy a casual drink with your meal, consider having a smaller portion to minimize the risk.
Coffee is a highly acidic drink and can cause problems for those prone to acid reflux. Any drink that is high in caffeine can cause burning, so it is important to watch the amount of caffeinated beverages that you drink.
Chocolate is high in fat, high in caffeine, and a natural relaxant, which is a recipe for heartburn. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of heartburn, so they should be extra cautious.
10. Carbonated beverages
Many soda varieties are high in acid and carbon dioxide. The bubbles in carbonated drinks force your esophagus open which lets the acid creep up. If you’re reluctant to give up your favourite sada, you can let the soda go flat so that the carbonation isn’t as bothersome.