Digestive Health

5 foods that can trigger heartburn

The human body is quite intricate in its functioning. These functions might appear extremely simple on the surface, but in reality, the process is quite elaborate. One such process, which looks very easy but has different parts of the body working ceaselessly to ensure that the body receives everything it needs to stay healthy, is digestion. However, like every bodily function, there are high chances that there can be some issues with the process of digestion and the repercussions of the same are not pleasant.

Usually, when we eat, the band of muscles around the bottom of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter)—the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach—relaxes to allow the food and the liquid to flow down into the stomach. Once the food enters the stomach, the muscle tightens again. However, when the lower esophageal sphincter weakens or relaxes abnormally, the stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus and cause heartburn. Heartburn is so common and severe that it affects about 60 million people every month.

Though heartburn can be treated with the help of medications, there are certain foods that are known to trigger heartburn. So, to prevent an episode of heartburn, avoid consuming the following foods.

High-fat foods
To ensure that you do not suffer from heartburn, you will have to avoid high-fat foods. However, the irony is that while avoiding high-fat foods, you will have to cut back on certain healthy and nutritious foods like cheese, nuts, and avocados as they are high in fat content as well. These high-fat foods can trigger heartburn by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby causing the stomach acid to escape and enter the esophagus. Also, these foods can stimulate the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) that can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and cause heartburn.

Though mints like spearmint and peppermint are hailed as home remedies to soothe an irate digestive system, these can cause heartburn. Research has indicated that high doses of spearmint can trigger symptoms of acid reflux. Also, mint does not relax the lower esophageal sphincter, instead it irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes heartburn.

Chocolate is one of the high-fat foods that is known to trigger heartburn. Just like other high-fat foods, chocolate too relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and allows the stomach acid to enter the esophagus and cause heartburn. Also, as chocolate is made of cocoa that contains the “happy hormone” serotonin, it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter further and leads to heartburn.

Though onions are extremely healthy, people with a history of heartburn are advised to avoid it completely. Onions, especially raw ones are a common trigger for heartburn. Like other foods that trigger heartburn, onions function in a similar manner by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter and allow the stomach acid into the esophagus. Moreover, onions are a rich source of fermentable fiber that causes belching, which in turn, aggravates the symptoms of heartburn.

People who experience frequent heartburn symptoms are advised to reduce their intake of alcohol as moderate to excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to heartburn. Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and allow the stomach acid into the esophagus. Also, alcoholic beverages like wine and beer can increase the amount of stomach acid and can increase the risk of triggering heartburn.