Foods to Avoid to Keep Acid Reflux At Bay

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Top 10 Foods to Avoid to Keep Acid Reflux Symptoms at Bay are the following:

1. Citrus Fruits and Juices

Citrus fruits and juices including oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits are known to cause heartburn. These foods are acidic in nature, hence can trigger acid reflux if consumed on an empty stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter is relaxed by the acid present in citrus fruits and juices and this results in acid reflux.

Citrus Fruits and Juices Cause Heartburn if Consumed On An Empty Stomach

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain anti-cancer compound lycopene. However, due to the high acid content of tomatoes they can trigger acid reflux in individuals who are prone to it. It is best to avoid tomato and tomato based products including ketchups, sauces, tomato soup for people with acid reflux.

3. Onion, Garlic and Other Spices

Onion and garlic are commonly used in most Indian food recipes. However, they can trigger acid reflux in many people with heartburn. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and often people do not realize that it can trigger acid reflux.

4. Caffeinated beverages

Caffeinated beverages including coffee and certain types of tea can trigger acid reflux. Stomach acid is increased due to the consumption of caffeinated beverages which cause acid reflux and worsen the problem. It is important to cut down on caffeine consumption to get rid of acid reflux.

Caffeinated Beverages Can Trigger Acid Reflux

5. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods aggravate the symptoms of acid reflux in many people. Sometimes chilli or pepper present in the food could be responsible for the burning sensation and pain in the stomach. Certain cuisines including Indian, Malay, Thai and Mexican food are spicy in nature, hence can easily trigger acid reflux. People with heartburn should avoid spicy foods and go for mild non-spicy foods.

6. Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages or soda contains high amount of acid which can stimulate acid reflux. They also contain caffeine and other stimulants which are also responsible for acid reflux. After drinking carbonated soda, the gas is released into the stomach which opens up the esophageal sphincter and thus back-flow of acid occurs into the esophagus and throat.

7. Alcohol

Certain alcoholic beverages including beer and wine contain have less acid content, but they can relax the esophageal sphincter which allows the back-flow of stomach acid resulting in heartburn. Sometimes alcoholic drinks are mixed with acidic mixers such as orange or grapefruit juice which can trigger acid reflux. People who are already suffering from heartburn had best avoid alcohol or alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic Beverages Can Trigger Acid Reflux

8. Peppermint

Normally, peppermint is taken to be a stomach soothing agent and often offered after a rich meal. However, peppermint triggers heartburn by relaxing the sphincter muscle present between the stomach and esophagus. Any mint-based products including chewing gums and candies can also trigger heartburn and therefore it is better to avoid them.

9. Fried and Greasy Foods

Fried foods taste delicious, but they are capable of causing significant trouble in the human digestive system. Fried and greasy foods are difficult to digest because they contain high fat which can slow down the digestive process and leave traces of excess acids which result in heartburn.

10. Chocolates

If you have a sweet tooth and also suffer from heartburn, then you might be in for some bad news! Chocolate has been identified as one of the foods which triggers heartburn. It has been found that chocolate can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux. Chocolates contain theobromine which relaxes the esophagus sphincter and triggers acid reflux.

Chocolates Contain Theobromine Which Relaxes The Esophagus Sphincter and Triggers Acid Reflux

Besides the above foods there are some other foods which can also trigger acid reflux. Dairy products including milk and cheese are responsible for acid reflux. Most dairy products contain high fat which slow down the digestion process and remain on the stomach wall leading to more acid production which flows back into the esophagus. Baked goodies such as brownies and cookies can also trigger acid reflux by creating an acidic environment in the stomach.

Tips to Avoid Heartburn

Apart from avoiding the abovementioned foods, following certain tips can help to reduce the frequency of heartburn:
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Heavy body weight of a person puts pressure on the abdomen and consequently the stomach is pushed up which triggers the acid to travel back into the esophagus.
  • Opt for small and frequent meals: Large meals particularly before bed time increases the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter muscles which results in acid reflux. Hence, it is recommended to eat small and frequent meals.
  • While eating, maintain an upright posture and follow a similar posture even after 45-60 minutes after eating.
  • Avoid lying down immediately after a meal. It is important to keep a gap of two to three hours after eating and before going to bed.
  • Avoid smoking because it reduces the functional capability of the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes around the abdomen as they can put pressure on the abdomen and the lower esophagus sphincter.
  • Avoid alcohol to relax. Instead, try exercising, walking, stretching, meditation or deep breathing for relaxation.
Heartburn is common enough, however at times it can be associated with serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn as well as GERD may result in inflammation followed by narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough and Barrett's esophagus. Further, these problems may result in esophageal cancer. Seek immediate medical attention after experiencing the following events:
  • Frequent or severe heartburn symptoms
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Vomiting due to heartburn
  • Experiencing unexpected weight loss
  • Experiencing heartburn even after taking OTC medicine (antacids) continuously for 2 weeks
  • Persisting heartburn symptoms after taking prescription or non-prescription medicines
  • Facing discomfort in daily lifestyle or day-to-day activities
  • Persistent cough or wheezing

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is commonly termed as heartburn. It is characterized as a burning sensation which spreads from the chest and comes up to the throat area, often leaving a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. It occurs due to the back-flow of stomach acid into the esophagus.

Once the food or liquid enters the stomach, there is a band of muscle present at the end of the esophagus which closes off the esophagus. The band is known as lower esophagus sphincter (LES). Improper closing of the band can result in the back-flow of food or stomach acid into the esophagus. Hence, the stomach content can irritate the esophagus leading to heartburn and other symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs due to the back-flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Citrus fruits, caffeinated beverages, fried & spicy foods, alcohol, can cause acid reflux.

What are the Symptoms of Heartburn?

The common symptoms of heartburn include:
  • Burning sensation in the chest for a few minutes to several hours
  • Chest pain
  • Burning in the throat
  • Sour or acidic fluid back-flow to the throat
  • Problem in swallowing
When acid reflux takes place more than twice a week, it is referred as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Many people suffer from heartburn which is triggered by various factors such as eating habits, lifestyle, and medical reasons. Acid reflux can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus, so it is essential to treat the heartburn. Certain lifestyle modifications often help to improve the symptoms of acid reflux.

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