9 Foods That Cause Heartburn Making Your Symptoms Worse
As anyone who has experienced it can attest, heartburn can be an unpleasant and uncomfortable sensation. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, often causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat. While there are many factors that contribute to heartburn, including stress and certain medications, food is one of the main culprits. Certain foods can cause heartburn by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which normally acts as a barrier to prevent acid reflux. This can lead to heartburn, acid reflux, and even gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic and potentially serious condition.
Here, we explore nine foods and why they should be avoided. By understanding how these foods that cause heartburn affect our digestive system, we can take steps to avoid them and reduce the risk of developing more serious digestive issues.
1. Spicy foods
Spicy foods are known to be a common trigger for heartburn. Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat, can irritate the lining of the esophagus and relax the LES muscle, which can cause stomach acid to flow back up. This can lead to heartburn, acid reflux, and even GERD.
2. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are highly acidic and can increase the amount of acid in the stomach. Consuming citrus fruits in excess can trigger heartburn. Additionally, these fruits can relax the LES muscle, making it easier for stomach acid to enter the esophagus. However, it is important to note that citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients, which are essential for overall health.
Tomatoes are a common ingredient in many dishes, but they are also highly acidic and can irritate the esophagus. Tomatoes are often used in foods that are high in fat, such as pizza and pasta dishes, which can exacerbate symptoms of heartburn. While cooked tomatoes may be easier to digest than raw tomatoes, those with chronic heartburn or GERD may want to avoid them altogether.
Chocolate contains caffeine, which can relax the LES muscle and promote acid reflux. Additionally, chocolate is high in fat, which can slow down digestion and make it easier for stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. However, dark chocolate does contain antioxidants and may have some health benefits when consumed in moderation.
5. Fried foods
Fried foods, like french fries and fried chicken, are high in fat and can be difficult to digest. Consuming them in excess can slow down digestion and increase the risk of heartburn. Additionally, fried foods can relax the LES muscle and promote acid reflux.
While mint is often used to soothe digestive issues, it contains compounds that can actually make heartburn worse. Mint can relax the LES muscle and promote acid reflux. Additionally, many people consume mint in the form of gum or candy, which can increase the amount of swallowed air and contribute to symptoms of heartburn. However, mint may have some health benefits, such as improving digestion and reducing nausea.
Onions are highly acidic and can irritate the esophagus, especially when consumed in large quantities. Additionally, onions can relax the LES muscle and make it easier for stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. Those with chronic heartburn or GERD may want to limit their intake of onions.
Alcohol is a known trigger for heartburn. It can relax the LES muscle and promote acid reflux. Additionally, many types of alcohol, like wine and beer, are highly acidic and can irritate the esophagus. While it’s technically not a food, it can exacerbate symptoms and make you feel worse, hence why you should still consider it on your list of foods that cause heartburn.
9. Carbonated beverages
Carbonated beverages, such as soda and sparkling water, can be a source of heartburn. These beverages contain bubbles that can increase the amount of swallowed air and contribute to symptoms of heartburn. Additionally, many carbonated beverages are highly acidic and can irritate the esophagus.
The bottom line
In conclusion, avoiding these nine foods that cause heartburn can reduce the risk of developing more serious digestive issues. Opt for foods that are gentle on the digestive system, like lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. By making small changes to your diet, you can improve your digestive health and reduce your risk of heartburn and other digestive complaints.
Read next: 7 Foods to Avoid With Acid Reflux
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