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Acid Reflux Bringing You Down? The 9 Foods That You Should Avoid

Contributed by: Rachana Arya

Introduction

You wake in the night; feeling like your chest is burning. Sometimes the pain is so intense — it can literally take your breath away — making you think it’s a heart attack.

The burning sensation in the centre of your chest can limit your menu choices, interrupt your sleep, and interfere with the functioning of your daily activities. 

This sensation has many names, including:

Though heartburn triggers can vary from person to person, acid reflux is often triggered by what you eat and drink.

Eat the wrong food and you’re sure to go through a bad reflux flare-up. 

Foods that sit in the stomach longer are known to cause and alleviate digestive discomfort.

The key to taming the flame is to adhere to the best acid reflux practices. Additionally, it is important to steer clear or significantly cut back on reflux-triggering foods, as listed below, to keep acid reflux at bay.

Here are 9 foods and drinks to avoid the brewing of acid reflux.

Chocolate

Chocolate is everyone’s favourite treat. However, this amazing food is most commonly on the list of what not to eat, when it comes to acid reflux.

The dark side of chocolate is that it contains caffeine, cocoa, and theobromine which can trigger reflux.

Additionally, chocolate has a high cocoa content which can cause a surge of serotonin, causing your oesophagal sphincter to relax and gastric contents to rise.

Peppermint

Several studies support the use of peppermint for an irritable bowel; however, it can have the opposite effect on acid reflux.

Peppermint can relax the lower oesophagal sphincter muscle, allowing stomach acids to splash back into the oesophagus.

This can worsen reflux symptoms in people with hiatal hernia and — not surprisingly — those with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Garlic

Although garlic has many health benefits, this food should definitely be avoided if you frequently experience acid reflux, as there is a clear link between garlic and acid reflux.

Consuming garlic might literally ‘spice up’ your food as well as irritate and inflame the lining of the oesophagus.

This can cause heartburn and upset stomach in healthy people and make it even more likely to cause issues for those who suffer from acid reflux.

Onions

Onions, especially raw onions stimulate acid production putting you at risk for heartburn.

Studies indicate that eating a meal containing raw onion significantly exacerbates heartburn, acid reflux, and burping.

Cutting back on this food is a must if you want relief from acid reflux.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes and tomato products have high levels of malic and citric acids, which can cause the stomach to create too much gastric acid.

Tomatoes might cause your gastric acid to rise to the point where it pushes back up the oesophagus contributing to heartburn in individuals who are prone to it.

It is best to avoid tomato and tomato-based products like sauces, ketchup, tomato paste, and tomato soup for people with acid reflux. 

Alcohol

Certain alcoholic beverages including beer and wine encourage the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES) to relax and, ultimately, not carry out its duties properly.

This can be particularly troublesome for people who experience acid reflux and are big no-nos.

Fried foods

Greasy and fatty foods, especially large portions, can fuel the flame of heartburn. High-fat foods sit in your stomach longer causing your stomach to produce more acid, thereby irritating your digestive system.

These foods are capable of causing significant trouble in the human digestive system and should be eliminated from your diet.

Spicy foods

Certain cuisines including Indian, Malay, Thai and Mexican food can make acid reflux worse.  The reason? Capsaicin. 

This active component of many spicy foods can make your oesophagus hurt or cause unpleasant heartburn. It is important to cut down on spicy food to get rid of acid reflux.

Carbonated beverages

Acid reflux can be triggered by carbonated beverages like sodas, which contain a significant level of acid.

The gas released by carbonated beverages opens the oesophagal sphincter, allowing acid to back up into the oesophagus and throat.

In addition to the gaseous bubbles, many carbonated drinks include caffeine, which, because it is highly acidic, can cause acid reflux in some people.

Carbonated beverages should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether if at all possible.

Final thoughts

Episodic heartburn is usually nothing to worry about. Almost everyone gets heartburn and acid reflux now and then. 

But if you are one of the people who have heartburn more than twice per week or if severe heartburn interferes with your daily activities, the problem may not just be inconvenient; it’s also potentially dangerous.

Left untreated, GERD can cause long-term inflammation in your oesophagus, which can damage your oesophagus and raise your risk of throat cancer – schedule an appointment today.

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