Do you often suffer from heartburn (acid reflux), belching or bloating? Have you ever wondered which foods are causing them? The type of food you consume daily and the meal timings matter a lot when it comes to acid reflux. There are many foods to avoid with heartburn, but again it depends on how you regulate your daily diet.
When you suffer from acid reflux, you feel an unusual burning discomfort every time you eat something. What is causing this heartburn or bloating? Feeling heartburn is a type of health disorder called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). It is not something unusual for you to suffer from GERD, as nearly 20 percent of the total population has GERD.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic case of acid reflux. During GERD, the acid in your stomach frequently travels back into the esophagus (food pipe connecting your stomach and mouth). The acid backwash is the actual cause behind the burning sensation that you feel in your chest or esophageal lining.
GERD condition can be categorized from mild symptoms to severe conditions, where you need medical attention. In the mild or moderate condition, you will mostly come across acid reflux two times a week. However, the severity of the situation arises when you experience acid reflux almost every day.
You can typically manage GERD by changing your lifestyle and food habits. For severe conditions, you need to consult a doctor and get medications accordingly. Sometimes, you may need more potent medicines or even surgery if the condition worsens over time. Therefore, you should keep a good check on your diet and living conditions. Report to a doctor any time you feel digestive discomfort.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
Some of the most common signs of GERD that you might come across are:
- An uncomfortable burning feeling around the chest region, as if someone has set your heart on fire! You experience the burn usually after finishing your meal, which might worsen at night
- Regurgitation of a sour liquid or food taste that is a sign of indigestion
- Sheer pain in the chest
- Facing difficulty to swallow food
- Having a sense of lump formation near your throat
If you come across acid reflux at night, the following signs can be reflective of:
- Disrupted sleeping cycle.
- Chronic cough.
- Difficulty in breathing (either formation of new asthma or existing worsened asthma condition).
- Laryngitis- an inflammatory condition of your voice box or larynx, mostly due to an infection or irritation.
What can cause GERD?
When you frequently experience acid reflux, it will eventually give rise to a severe health condition like GERD. A significant portion of how to avoid GERD depends on your regular diet. The foods you consume and meal intervals decide a lot on whether you will come across acid reflux or not. Certain daily habits and foods to avoid with heartburn can bring down your possibility of encountering severe GERD conditions.
How does acid reflux occur?
When you chew and swallow food, it passes through the esophagus or food pipe and enters your stomach for digestion. There is a circular muscle band lining the bottom of your food pipe known as the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. The esophageal sphincter helps in relaxing and squeezing the food particles and liquidate them for easy flow in the stomach. After the process, the sphincter band closes.
The problem arises when the esophageal sphincter abnormally weakens or relaxes, causing the stomach acid to backflow into the food pipe. The continuous process of the backwash of stomach acid causes irritation or burning of esophageal lining, often leading to inflammation.
Your stomach is in charge of three major processes- digestion, absorption, assimilation of food. Apart from the dysfunctional esophageal sphincter, indigestion of food can also backtrack their way up to your esophagus and cause GERD.
What are the possible risk factors?
Lifestyle attributes that can increase your possibility towards GERD include:
- Delay in meal intervals
- Hiatal hernia- when the top of your stomach bulges towards the diaphragm
- Disorders of connective tissues like scleroderma
Many factors can lead to the aggravation of acid reflux, such as:
- Excessive smoking
- Eating large portions of a meal before going to bed at night
- Foods to avoid with heartburn like spicy and fried foods
- Certain medicines that have high aspirin level
- Drinking too much of beverages like coffee or alcohol
Which foods are dangerous for GERD?
Foods that are high in fat content decrease the pressure on lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Lower the pressure on the LES more is the delay in emptying your stomach. Such a phenomenon can easily give rise to acid reflux conditions. The type of foods to avoid with heartburn are the ones with low fat and less junk.
- Potato chips, French fries or any deep-fried items.
- Full fat or clarified butter, cheese, ice cream, and full-fat sour cream.
- Creamy dips, salad dressings, and sauces.
- Full cream milk.
- Meat with fat cuts like prime rib, or marbled sirloin.
Out of all the food items, the most dangerous of them is spicy foods. Capsaicin is the key component present in chili powders and chili peppers that you usually use for seasoning meals. Spicy foods can inadvertently lead to severe GERD conditions while trying to make your recipes tastier. If you are already suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disorder, spicy foods can elevate levels of chest burning and abdominal pain.
Certain vegetables and fruits can also worsen GERD symptoms, such as pineapple, garlic, and onion. You need to avoid citrus fruits to avoid risks of acid reflux, including lemons, grapefruit, limes, and oranges. Sometimes tomatoes or tomato-based items can also trigger acid reflux, such as chili pizza sauce, salsa, or chili tomato sauce.
Medications and certain foods may also cause GERD problem. Avoid processed foods, alpha-blockers, pain-relievers like aspirin, bisphosphonates, tricyclics, potassium or iron supplements, antibiotics, nitrates, theophylline, or calcium channel inhibitors. If you ever feel increased GERD symptoms, immediately visit a doctor for proper treatment.