Heartburn is a symptom of a condition called “acid reflux,” where the contents of a person’s stomach and the stomach acid leak up into the esophagus.
Acid reflux can be a minor annoyance, or it can be a serious problem. Chronic acid reflux, called gastro esophageal reflux disease” or “GERD” can damage the lining of the esophagus in a way that increases the risk of esophageal cancer. So it is advisable to prevent acid reflux if possible, in order to lessen the risk of these more serious consequences.
There are medications that can help to do this, as well as lifestyle changes such as sleeping at a slight angle so your stomach is below your esophagus. But a key component in fighting acid reflux and heartburn is diet.
Knowing what foods are most likely to trigger acid reflux will help you make better choices when ordering in restaurants. Keep in mind, though, that there is variation among heartburn sufferers. Not all risk foods will have the same effect on everyone; you as an individual might be bothered more by some, and be able to consume others without a problem. In order to learn more about your own tolerances, you may want to keep a food diary for a certain period of time, noting when you suffered from heartburn and then correlating that with the foods you ate.
But in general here are some of the foods to be wary of if you are prone to heartburn:
* Butter and margarine
* Carbonated beverages
* Citrus fruit
* Citrus juice and tomato juice
* Creamy sauces and salad dressings
* Dairy products
* Fried and greasy foods
* High fat meats
* Pepper, spices, and spicy foods
In some cases you may not know all the relevant information about a menu item’s ingredients and mode of preparation. In that case you’ll want to ask questions of your server or the cook.
In addition to the types of foods you order, another factor is the quantity you eat. Overeating can often bring on heartburn. Don’t wait until you’re uncomfortably full to stop eating. Eating slowly and drinking plenty of water while you eat are ways to decrease your tendency to overeat.
Vigorous exercise can disrupt the digestive process and make acid reflux more likely, so when you leave the restaurant, wait awhile before doing anything more strenuous than a brisk walk.
Similarly, lying horizontal can slow down digestion, so avoid those late restaurant meals close to when you go to bed.
With a little forethought and common sense, you can head off most heartburn before it happens.
Sharon Gillson, “What Foods Should I Avoid if I Suffer From Heartburn?” About.com.
“GERD.” Mayo Clinic.
“Heartburn/GERD Health Center.” WebMD.