Gastroesophageal reflux is one of the diseases of civilization in today’s society. However, its symptoms can be easily alleviated by changing dietary habits. In her book “Reflux”, nutritionist Kimberly Tessmer mentions foods that can trigger heartburn. If we avoid them, we can get rid of these unpleasant feelings. You can start with this list.
- Citrus, tomatoes, and collard greens. Although fruits and vegetables are very healthy, some of them can cause or worsen reflux symptoms. The International Health Institute has identified citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, as well as tomatoes and tomato products, as major triggers of acid reflux. These foods are very acidic and can cause heartburn in people who are predisposed to it, especially if consumed fasting. In addition, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts also produce gases that build up in the stomach and can also easily cause heartburn. Keep an eye on how you feel after eating these foods and whether it might be better to avoid them next time.
- Cheese garlic, onions and some spices. Not only fresh garlic, but also dried garlic can irritate us. Among spices, for example, mint, mustard and nutmeg. Spicy or spicy foods and spices such as chilli, curry, spicy sauces and paprika can irritate the oesophagus and cause heartburn. Avoiding these foods will also reduce the risk of stomach and oesophageal ulcers. As for mint, not only mint tea, but also, for example, chewing gum, candy or toothpaste can make us nauseous.
- Coffee. Opinions on coffee are still divided, but it is known that it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and cause reflux. Coffee is very acidic and stimulates the secretion of digestive acids. This also applies to decaffeinated coffee, as other substances in it can contribute to worsening symptoms. Research has shown that decaffeinated coffee increases acid production even more than caffeinated coffee. It is worth monitoring how your body reacts to this drink. The good news is that there are also “less acidic” versions of coffee available on the market. Also watch out for caffeinated drinks and sodas.
- Fatty and fried foods. High-fat foods are generally not acidic, so heartburn is not often associated with them, but they can be very burdensome for patients prone to reflux. Fried, high-fat fast foods, cheese, steak and chicken wings take longer for our stomach to process and require more digestive acids, which slows gastric emptying and can relax the esophageal sphincter. Saturated fatty acids should not be consumed for many health reasons, so try to choose lighter foods such as skinless chicken, seafood, beans, lean red meat and lower fat dairy products. Unhealthy and dangerous trans fats can cause oesophageal disease and should be avoided in the diet. This will not only benefit reflux, but also your weight and overall health. Triple bonus!
- Chocolate. We all love chocolate, which unfortunately can cause heartburn. This is because it contains a chemical called methylxanthine, which relaxes the muscles between the esophagus and stomach. It also contains caffeine and other stimulants such as theobromine, plus copious amounts of fat and cocoa – all of these ingredients can aggravate acid reflux. Dark chocolate is definitely healthier, but it’s still chocolate and not suitable for people with heartburn. Chances are, however, that chocolate won’t be on your list of banned products! You have to try it.
- Saturated drinks. The tiny bubbles in our favorite beverages seem so harmless, but they often worsen reflux symptoms. They enlarge in the stomach, which increases pressure on the esophageal sphincter, causing burping, which in turn opens the sphincter and can cause heartburn. Carbonated drinks also often contain the aforementioned caffeine. It is best to replace them with plain water. A small glass of water after a meal can dilute stomach acid and reduce the risk of reflux. Water can also relieve heartburn by flushing stomach acid out of your esophagus.
- Wine, beer and your other favorite beverages can turn a nice evening into a nightmare, especially if you add a hearty meal to the mix. Most alcoholic beverages are acidic, and alcohol also relaxes and opens the esophageal sphincter. It also stimulates the production of stomach acids and the sensitivity of the esophagus to their effects. If you want to enjoy an evening drink, you should make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid other acidic drinks (such as juices or caffeinated drinks). If you are choosing between white and red wine, choose white wine as it is less acidic.