Heartburn affects millions of people at least once a month. Heartburn occurs when the muscle that separates the lower esophagus from the stomach fails to keep stomach acid in the stomach, and it rises into the esophagus causing the sensation known as heartburn. If heartburn is severe enough, it can be mistaken for a heart attack. Whether heartburn keeps you awake at night or prevents you from concentrating during your daily tasks, you can do something about it. Many foods are common heartburn triggers that can eventually lead to GERD. A simple change in diet and avoiding certain foods is all that it takes to find relief. Take a look at the top 10 foods that cause heartburn, and then proceed with caution.
- Citrus fruits are high in acid and can cause heartburn, especially if you have an empty stomach.
- Tomatoes are high in acid and also cause heartburn.
- Garlic and onions aren’t acidic, but they frequently cause heartburn.
- Spicy foods can trigger heartburn so they are best avoided. Try to enjoy milder versions of your favorite spicy dish.
- Peppermint is frequently touted as a digestive aid, but it actually causes heartburn. Skip after dinner mints to freshen your breath because peppermint may relax the muscle that keeps stomach acid at bay, allowing the acid to enter the esophagus.
- Fatty foods, like red meat, nuts, oils, avocadoes and cheeses, are all digested slowly making the stomach more distended and increasing pressure on the sphincter that prevents stomach acid from reaching the esophagus. You don’t have to stop eating the foods, just enjoy them in small quantities when you’re not already full.
- Alcohol, like wine, beer and cocktails, can cause heartburn by relaxing the sphincter muscle. It is often worse if you have other heartburn causing foods with your drink, such as a steak or red sauce with your red wine.
- Caffeine can be enjoyed in small quantities, so have a three or four ounce cup of coffee but avoid drinking multiple cups throughout the day.
- Chocolate not only contains caffeine, it is also relaxes the sphincter allowing acid to back up into the esophagus.
- Carbonated beverages distend the stomach and increase pressure on the sphincter muscle, causing acid reflux so avoid soda and other carbonated beverages.
This list can help serve as a guide to finding your heartburn triggers. Keep in mind that eating large amounts also triggers heartburn, so you may be able to enjoy your favorite foods in small quantities consumed earlier in the day rather than right before you go to bed