Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that causes discomfort. It is often caused or aggravated by eating certain foods or lying down after eating. It is a symptom of acid reflux, where the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus due to a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES opens and closes to prevent stomach acid from flowing back up the esophagus. Occasional heartburn can be managed with a few lifestyle changes.
Here are some foods that may aggravate heartburn and should be avoided by people experiencing acid reflux:
1. High-fat foods
Fatty foods like French fries, onion rings, full-fat dairy products, fried meats, desserts, fried snacks, cream sauces, ice cream, and chips are trigger foods for heartburn. They have high-fat content and are tough to digest, so they should be avoided or eaten in moderation.
2. Tomatoes and citrus fruits
Vegetables and fruits are an integral part of a healthy diet, but certain vegetables and fruits are highly acidic. In case of frequent bouts of acid reflux, it is best to avoid oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pineapples, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salsa.
Chocolates include methylxanthine, which is similar to caffeine and relaxes the LES, worsening the reflux and leading to heartburn.
4. Spicy food
Spicy foods like peppers, chili, onion, and garlic are trigger foods for heartburn. They might not always have the same effect on everyone, but the symptoms may worsen if they are consumed in large quantities or eaten late at night.
Red meat is tough to digest as it has a lot of fat, and it can also cause heartburn. Pork, beef, and lamb are trigger foods for heartburn, and eating meat with a spicy gravy can also worsen the condition.
6. Certain beverages
Some beverages like wine, coffee, tea, and alcohol in large quantities upset the digestive system and cause acid reflux, and carbonated drinks are also known to aggravate heartburn.
Mints like spearmint and peppermint are believed to soothe the digestive system, but they irritate the LES, which eventually leads to heartburn.
8. Excessive salt
Consuming excessive table salt or having very salty food can increase acid reflux, which makes it a trigger for heartburn.
Apart from avoiding these trigger foods for heartburn, you should also follow a healthy lifestyle. It is beneficial to have a break of at least two hours between eating and going to bed. Regular exercise should be ensured, and it is better to eat more frequently in small quantities than to have large meals. Foods like ginger, bananas, green vegetables, oatmeal, whole grains, and potatoes are known to soothe the symptoms of heartburn. They also help reduce acid reflux and improve overall health.