Are you fond of mouth-watering dishes and cuisines? You might often find yourself in a place choosing between food and health.
Even a minimal amount of certain foods cause heartburn daily. These symptoms are not just limited to heartburn. It may cause bloating and difficulty swallowing.
It turns out to be the worst when it’s chronic. This disorder is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The normal functioning of the sphincter muscle is to stop any backflow of food. It protects the esophagus from the action of acid secreted in the stomach.
The loosened-up sphincter may cause a backflow of food, bringing along the acid produced.
It is generally known as acid reflux. It can be experienced generally by everyone. But, sometimes, it turns worse and becomes a chronic disorder. A doctor then diagnoses it.
You will be surprised to find out that 20% of the population around the globe suffers from this problem.
It is widespread and yet ignored till it takes a critical turn. The uncomfortable burning sensation, accompanied by pain, is not easy to deal with.
Antacid medications and proton pump inhibitors are prescribed for treatment. Some cases also require surgeries.
We have already discussed about foods for acid reflux that may be helpful if you suffer from this issue.
In this article, we will focus more on the precautionary side. We will discuss the foods to avoid during acid reflux.
List Of Foods To Avoid During Acid Reflux
Is it possible for us to control or prevent acid reflux? The answer is yes.
GERD is a condition in which stomach matters travel back from the stomach to the esophagus and could be managed by easy lifestyle changes.
GERD diets are found useful but the lack of evidence and limited studies make it difficult to say much about it.
Foods have been a debatable topic. However, some foods might be causing acid reflux and it would be better to avoid them at all costs.
Following are a few such foods to avoid-
Tomatoes And Tomato-Based Sauces
Tomatoes are known to be a quality nutrient provider. The bright red color of tomatoes is due to lycopene.
But the role of lycopene is not limited to color. It is an excellent antioxidant. Thus tomatoes aid in fighting free radicals.
Despite these advantages, they can bring harm to acid reflux. Tomatoes are a rich source of acids.
Oxalic, citric and malic acid contribute to high acidity. This may lead to acid reflux.
If too many tomatoes are eaten, they may induce acid reflux. If consumed during reflux, they may worsen it.
Fresh tomatoes along with canned tomatoes and other tomato products are unsafe too.
Tomato sauce is the backbone of the food industry. Your favorite pasta, pizzas, and burgers include a tomato base too.
Dips and appealing dishes are not free from tomatoes either. So if you cannot entirely avoid it, try to consume tomatoes in moderate amounts.
Just like any other fruit, citrus fruits are also essential for a healthy life. They have numerous advantages.
They supply you with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But as their name suggests, they have big proportions of citric acid.
These fruits are good to be eaten generally but must be avoided during acid reflux. If you have a chronic issue, try sweet and watery fruits instead.
The fruits one must avoid during reflux are
Though some types of fats are healthy, excessive fat intake always invites problems.
High-fat foods sit in the stomach for longer. Since the exit time of food is delayed, they take a long time to digest.
These foods also relax the esophageal sphincter. High-fat food consumption results in more stomach acid reaching out to the esophagus.
You may suffer frequent heartburns due to a fat-rich diet. Processed foods and fast food are top-rated causes of acid reflux.
- Potato chips
- Fast food
- Fried foods
- Some meats
Cheese and red meat are sources of saturated fats. These can cause much more severe problems than just acid reflux.
Excessive meat intake may lead to acid reflux. They are related to cardiovascular diseases, bad cholesterol, and more.
Trans fats are also dangerous to consume for several reasons. These include some fast foods and packaged or processed foods.
Sadly, frozen pizzas, fries, and commercially baked goods are sources of trans fats.
Dairy products are also high in fats. Besides this, they contain lactose.
It can worsen the symptoms of lactose-intolerant people who have problems with lactose and develop gasses, bloating, etc.
This may lead to heartburn and is better to avoid milk in case of such food intolerances.
However, some dairy products like yogurt contain probiotics. They are a promising remedy for digestion.
So if you are not allergic to dairy, go for low-fat variants of dairy products to maintain a healthy balance.
There are numerous Dark chocolate benefits and it has definitely made its mark in health care. It contains antioxidants which are vital for humans.
But unfortunately, even this blissful treat has a disadvantage. Chocolates may cause an increase in acid exposure.
Cocoa, caffeine, and some plant chemicals present in it may cause heartburn.
Methylxanthine present in it relaxes the sphincter. It may cause stomach acid to enter the esophagus.
Caffeine And Carbonated Beverages
Drinks with alcohol and caffeine relax the low esophageal sphincter. It results in the backflow of acid to the esophagus.
Alcohol may trigger acid reflux rather quickly and suddenly. Carbonated drinks form bubbles. These bubbles exert pressure. Hence the stomach is expanded.
It leads to worsened symptoms and pain. Tea, coffee, sodas, and others under this category are unsafe during GERD.
Thus, the consumption of decaffeinated coffee could be a better alternative to coffee in case of acid reflux.
Spicy food triggers acid reflux easily. It doesn’t even have to reach down in the stomach for digestion. It makes most of the damage on its way down.
A study done on Korean patients revealed that their regional food items like hot stew, ramen, and other spicy dishes induced acid reflux.
During GERD, your esophagus is already irritated. Spicy foods make it even worse.
Another way in which spicy food causes acid reflux is through capsaicin present in them.
Hence the longer food stays in your stomach, the more your risk of reflux increases.
Onions And Garlic
These two food buddies are a delicious combination. They are added to numerous dishes for the same reason.
But you might not know that they cause acid reflux. Raw garlic can trigger reflux in healthy people as well.
So when it comes to GERD, it makes it terrible. Onions lead to increased acidity in the stomach.
However, they may or may not trigger reflux in everyone. Watch your food intake to avoid such consequences.
Peppermint And Spearmint
Mint has been a home remedy to treat improper bowel movements. It works by soothing and regulating it.
However, this comforting action makes acid reflux worse. The sphincter relaxes after the use of mint, as per this study.
It allows acid to enter the esophagus. Hence, heartburn is easily triggered. The problem gets even worse for people with GERD and hiatal hernia.
It is better to avoid mint during acid reflux. If you suffer from GERD, watch your mint intake more carefully.
Sugars And Sweeteners
Sugar alone, when consumed in moderation cannot cause acid reflux.
However, when sugar is taken in excess along with other triggering food items may cause heartburn.
Food with high sucrose and carbs may cause acidity. This disrupts the digestive tract.
What Else To Keep In Mind During Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux has much more causes than a diet. It is a matter of lifestyle. Minimal changes daily can help-
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating.
- Eat small meals
- Take your time and eat slowly
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, and carbonated drinks
- Keep your head slightly elevated i.e sleep in an inclined position on your side
- Exercise an hour after eating
- Manage your weight
- Wear loose clothes
- Do not eat an hour before bed at night
Acid reflux is a common issue but for some people, it becomes a chronic problem with severe symptoms.
Some precautions can help avoid heartburn. The very initial one in your hands is to watch your food intake.
It is better to avoid or at least eat them in moderation. These tiny bits together help tackle the problem of acid reflux.
Moreover, it is always better to consult with your dietician or health expert to plan out your diet to avoid acid reflux.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.