Sometimes you just know the delicious meal you’ve eaten is going to result in the painful, burning sensation of heartburn — but why? Read on to find out more about what foods that can cause heartburn.
Heartburn is the burning sensation or discomfort in the chest caused by stomach acid rising (or refluxing) into the oesophagus (the tube that links your mouth to your stomach). Eating certain foods can trigger heartburn in some people, while for others it’s a combination of foods or other factors — it all depends on the individual.
If heartburn is an issue and you think it’s food related then keeping a diary of what you’ve eaten and any heartburn symptoms that appear may be helpful in pinpointing any particular trigger foods. Keeping an eye on the size and timing of your meals (such as eating late at night, before exercising, eating a big meal or drinking lots of fluids taken with your food) can help as they can all cause or make heartburn symptoms worse.
Here are five delicious foods that can cause heartburn in some people. You can use the list as a starting point to help figure out your own personal food triggers and what foods to avoid with heartburn. But remember it’s important not to avoid too many foods as you need a wide range of nutrients for a healthy body.
Many of us love our fatty foods, but some people find eating these types of delicious meals makes their reflux symptoms worse. Foods that contain a lot of fat tend to take longer to digest and slow down stomach emptying. Foods with a high fat content can sometimes cause problems if you eat them quickly or along with carbonated drinks, alcohol or coffee.
Spicy foods, particularly ones containing chilli, are known for causing heartburn (among other symptoms such as sweating and a burning mouth!). When chillies are involved heartburn symptoms may be related to the capsaicin content (that’s the part of the chilli that makes your mouth feel hot). Capsaicin can slow down the rate at which the stomach empties (food will sit in the stomach longer) and can irritate the lining of the oesophagus — both of which can be associated with heartburn.
While fruit and vegetables may be the healthy diet choice, if they are naturally high in acid they can also bring on the discomfort of heartburn. You may want to keep an eye on the number of oranges, lemons or grapefruit you have in your diet — for a healthy option less likely to cause heartburn try swapping them for non-acidic fruit such as melons or bananas.
Chocolate is another food that is often thought to be linked to heartburn. It is high in fat which can slow down stomach emptying and is high in caffeine which can relax the muscle ring (or sphincter) at the top of the stomach. This oesophageal sphincter muscle stops fluids rising up from the stomach into the oesophagus. If the muscle relaxes at the wrong time stomach acid can escape and irritate the oesophagus lining resulting in heartburn. So while chocolate may be delicious, it might not be the best go-to comfort food for everyone!
Certain drinks, such as coffee and alcohol, can cause heartburn as they can affect the oesophagus sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach. Although coffee has been identified as a potential cause of heartburn in some people, the relationship between coffee and heartburn is not clear-cut. Try cutting down the amount of coffee you drink or eliminating it all together to see if it makes a difference to your heartburn.
Enjoying a glass of wine or beer with your meal may be your way of relaxing, but it may have the same effect on your oesophageal sphincter muscle! If the muscle ring becomes too relaxed food and acid can reflux back up the oesophagus. Drinking alcohol can also increase the acid production in the stomach and slow down the emptying of the stomach, both of which can cause heartburn.
Getting a better idea of what foods cause or makes your heartburn worse helps you take control of the condition. But when frequent heartburn is still a problem using an over-the-counter product such as a proton pump inhibitor like Zanzole24HR can help you get the relief from heartburn symptoms you want.
You should always speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications to make sure they are right for you.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.