Ever felt a painful burning in your upper stomach or near your breastbone? Thrown off by the dizzying discomfort?
If so, it’s likely that you suffer from acid reflux - an extremely common medical condition.
In layman’s terms, acid reflux refers to the irritation of the oesophagus - the tube which connects your throat and stomach. This occurs when acid from your stomach enters the lower part of this tube.
Why do people get acid reflux?
Heartburn (an alternative name for acid reflux) occurs due to problems with a muscular valve known as the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES).
This can be found where this oesophageal tube meets the stomach, right below your rib cage. The LES is meant to prevent acid from leaking from the stomach into your oesophagus. However, if it opens too frequently or doesn’t seal your stomach adequately, stomach acid can seep into your oesophagus, leading to acid reflux.
Whether you suffer from this condition occasionally, on a daily basis, or are keen to avoid it altogether, knowing which foods trigger it can prove to be helpful in the long-run.
Take a look below at all the food you need to practice some restraint with for better digestive health!
What triggers bad acid reflux?
Some common triggers of acid reflux aside from food include:
- Lying down after a heavy meal
- Taking certain medications like Ibuprofen and blood pressure medication
- Being overweight
Below are some of the worst foods for acid reflux.
Coffee and Alcohol
While many seem to find that they can’t do without their morning coffee or bedside glass of wine, these beverages can indeed lead to heartburn.
Coffee, in particular, is known to relax the LES, allowing for easier entry of acid into the oesophagus.
While this may depend on factors including coffee roast (the darker the better), whether it’s decaf, or even from where your coffee comes from, the effect of coffee on the gastrointestinal health of an individual is quite significant.
While alcohol relaxes the LES, it may not cause immediate heartburn or reflux. However, if taken together with a heavy meal, it can prove to be rather problematic.
So, if you’re someone who is in the habit of drinking multiple cups of coffee a day or if you consume alcohol regularly, cutting down on these can reduce or lessen the effects of acid reflux.
High-fat foods such as those from your favourite fast food franchises are other leading causes of acid reflux.
Similarly, these types of food, which include universal favourites such as french fries and onion rings, also weaken the LES, leading to acid backflow from your stomach. High fat foods are also known to slow down the emptying of the stomach, allowing ample time for acids to move into your oesophagus. This is the same with fatty meats.
Tomatoes and citrus fruits
While it may be surprising to find traditionally healthy food like fruits on this list, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits can also lead to acid reflux.
If you’re someone who frequently suffers from acid reflux, this type of food should be avoided, especially if you’re on an empty stomach. Tomatoes also contain citric and malic acid, which can cause the stomach to produce too much gastric acid of their own, leading to heartburn.
At this point, you’re probably prepared to close this tab and move on to a list citing the health benefits of chocolate.
However, if you’re a longtime sufferer of acid reflux and are well versed in this subject, you would know that chocolate is another leading cause of heartburn. Given that it contains caffeine and other chemical compounds that act as stimulants, consuming chocolate can relax your LES which in turn can cause reflux.
Chocolate is also high in fat, which can delay the emptying of your stomach.
Onions, ginger, and other sorts of spicy food are some of the leading triggers of acid reflux.
For many people, this type of food reduces the pressure with which the LES closes to separate the stomach and oesophagus, while increasing the level of acid in the stomach. Ultimately, this tends to intensify heartburn and belching.
What is the best thing to do when you have acid reflux?
Here are a few ways you can keep acid reflux under control without resorting to medication:
- Avoid any strenuous exercise for a few hours after eating. Taking a walk after a meal is fine but you should avoid bending your body.
- If you’re overweight, try to lose weight if you need to. Your weight could affect the lower oesophageal sphincter muscle which keeps stomach contents from coming back up the oesophagus.
- Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of several large meals, this will prevent your stomach from being too full, reducing the chances of you getting acid reflux.
Avoid eating the worst foods for acid reflux, like the ones mentioned above.
Acid reflux is both a common and uncomfortable health condition.
More than just its immediate effect on your health, its prolonged effect can easily lead to more serious conditions, including oesophageal cancer. It is, therefore, imperative that you make a proactive effort in reducing its symptoms.
If you’re suffering from heartburn and are in need of medical attention, contact our clinic today for information on how we can help. Apart from medication, restricting your consumption of the food outlined above can reduce symptoms and discomfort significantly.
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