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Top 6 Foods Known for Causing Heartburn

Posted Friday 24 January 2020 08:45 by in Acid Reflux by Harman Bhamra

Heartburn is an extremely common condition which affects up to 25% of UK adults regularly. The symptoms of heartburn can cause extreme amounts of discomfort and disrupt everyday life.

What Is Acid Reflux/Heartburn?

Heartburn is a fairly painful burning sensation which forms in your lower chest. It is caused by acid reflux - acid reflux is when stomach acid is forced up into your oesophagus (the pipe in which your food/drink travels down from your mouth to your stomach). This is not usually possible as your sphincter acts as a barrier to avoid this acid escaping, so when it does happen, heartburn takes place.

Usually, unless you burp or swallow, your sphincter stays shut. Those that suffer from acid reflux often have a weakened sphincter and so it opens on other occasions and allows acid to get out, leading to heartburn.

Top 6 Foods Known For Causing Heartburn

Diet is the number one culprit for heartburn as many foods can cause your sphincter to relax, allowing those pesky acids and foods to escape into the oesophagus. But what foods are best to avoid when trying to prevent heartburn?

Here are the top 6 foods that have been linked to heartburn, and if you suffer from acid reflux, you should steer clear of them!

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is likely to be the last thing you wanted to read on this list, but unfortunately, it is a common trigger of heartburn. The cocoa in the chocolate can increase serotonin levels, which can relax your sphincter and allow acid to sneak up your oesophagus; you don’t want that!

As well as boosting serotonin, chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine. Now we all know what caffeine is, but theobromine is a bitter compound that is found in cocoa and is therefore in chocolate. Both of these can also stimulate your sphincter to relax. Yet another reason to avoid chocolate!

A tiny bit of chocolate will unlikely affect you, but if you do suffer from acid reflux, avoid dark chocolate at all costs. Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa.

2. Spicy Foods

Put that takeaway menu back in the draw! Curry, chilli or any spicy foods are infamous causes of heartburn as more often than not they contain capsaicin which has been known to slow digestion rate.

As well as digestion issues, capsaicin is a compound that irritates tissue it comes into contact with and so can inflame your oesophagus, worsening heartburn. And so, it is best to take a step back from anything with a kick.

3. Onions

As well as saving you from bad breath, excluding raw onions from your diet will help you to reduce heartburn. Much like other foods, onions can cause you to burp/belch frequently which, as we know, opens your sphincter and could allow acid to escape in the process.

Burping/belching is caused as onions are rich in fermentable fibre, which exasperates acid reflux symptoms. Beans and legumes are also sources of this fibre and so it is also best to limit intake of those as well.

4. Mint

Unlike other foods, mint does not lead to heartburn through relaxing the sphincter. Instead, mint has been known to irritate the oesophagus lining.

It was often thought that mint helped digestion but has since been linked to the opposite. Peppermint tea and other forms of mint are putting those that consume them at a higher risk, so best to avoid it, just to be on the safe side.

5. Fatty Foods

Foods that have high-fat content are a risk to multiple aspects of your health and acid reflux is no exception. And we’re not just talking about fast-food or unhealthy snacks. Healthier produce such as avocados, cheese and nuts all have high-fat content, too!

These fatty foods can lead to the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which relaxes your sphincter and causes food to sit in your stomach for longer than usual. This also increases the risk of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

6. Salt

Again, salt has a bad reputation when it comes to your health. Adding salt as a seasoning to your meals or eating foods that have a high salt content can boost the chances of you experiencing acid reflux symptoms by 50%. With such a high figure, it’s best to limit your intake.

Common Acid Reflux Symptoms

It’s all well and good to advise you on what food to avoid when preventing acid reflux, but how do you know if you suffer?

Common acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Heartburn: as previously mentioned, this is the most common symptom and is a burning feeling that occurs in your lower chest, abdomen or throat
  • Regurgitation: when stomach acid escapes through your sphincter and causes a sour/bitter taste of acid in your throat or mouth
  • Dysphagia: this is the sensation of feeling as though you have food stuck in your throat
  • Hiccups
  • Burping/belching
  • Nausea

How To Stop Heartburn

There may be many foods which cause problems, but luckily, there are also a few that can stop heartburn from occurring.

  • Ginger: this is often used to relieve nausea. It can also help reduce symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn
  • Green Vegetables are low in fat, acid and sugar and have been proved to prevent pain and discomfort

These natural remedies can be helpful, but when battling acid reflux regularly, it’s wise to seek medical treatment.

Treatments For Acid Reflux

Express Pharmacy has a multitude of acid reflux and heartburn treatments which are guaranteed to provide long-term relief and prevention. The two most popular treatments for acid reflux can be found below:

Omeprazole is an effective and established medication for treating acid reflux; it helps to decrease the amount of acid your stomach is producing. As well as this, Omeprazole helps to repair acid damage to your stomach and oesophagus which, if left, could result in stomach ulcers or oesophagus cancer.

Lansoprazole is another type of medication Express Pharmacy sells to treat stomach and oesophagus problems, such as acid reflux. Lansoprazole also decreases the amount of acid your stomach is making while relieving symptoms such as heartburn, coughing and swallowing difficulty.

For more information regarding effective treatments for acid reflux, speak to our team on 0208 123 0703.


The Most Important Meal of the Day: Can Oatmeal in the Morning Cure Acid Reflux?

Posted Friday 27 December 2019 09:22 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Acid reflux can easily put a dampener on your festivities, but certain foods could make a significant difference

Acid reflux is a condition which impacts huge numbers of people across the UK and around the world. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere between 10 and 20% of the UK population suffer from regular incidents of acid reflux.[1]

But what you eat can determine the severity of your symptoms. From oatmeal to onions, we’re going to take a look at some of the foods that can commonly impact the condition, for better or worse.

What is acid reflux?

When stomach acid travels up towards the throat, it can create an unpleasant burning sensation, resulting in both heartburn and acid reflux. This can leave a nasty taste and can even cause pain. When acid reflux occurs frequently, it is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.[2]

There are several factors which make acid reflux more likely to occur, including certain foods, smoking, heavy alcohol use, pregnancy, smoking and genetics.[3]

Can oatmeal reduce acid reflux symptoms?

We all know that breakfast in the most important meal of the day, but for acid reflux sufferers it can be even more vital. Healthy breakfast options like oatmeal and porridge have been shown to help relieve the symptoms associated with acid reflux, including the unpleasant taste and burning pain.

Oatmeal is a whole grain and therefore is high in fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and movement. What’s more, oatmeal can help to absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.

Oatmeal is also high in selenium, which can help to coat and protect the oesophagus from painful acids.[4]

Foods to help your acid reflux

There are many foods out there which are thought to act as triggers for heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, increasing your discomfort. These include:

- Spicy foods like curries

- Citrus fruits and juices

- Garlic and onions

- Mint

- Caffeine

- Fried foods with high levels of fat[5]

However, other foods are thought to help reduce your symptoms of acid reflux, rather than aggravating them.

Fresh, cool, creamy and mild foods can help ease the intensity and frequency of your acid reflux. Switch up your diet to include higher quantities of foods like fresh tomato, cucumber, basil, low-fat yoghurts, eggs, fruit and nuts, wholegrain bread and lunchtime salads with chicken or beans.[6]

Treating acid reflux

Changing your dietary habits can be a helpful way of managing your acid reflux symptoms, but there are also other things you can do alongside these changes, such as seeking out safe and effective acid reflux medication.

Omeprazole is one such treatment; the generic alternative to branded medications like Losec and Prilosec. In clinical trials, Omeprazole has been found to be significantly effective in relieving acid reflux symptoms in chronic sufferers.[7]

You can find safe and effective acid reflux medication right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Dent, J. et al. Epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2005

[2] NHS UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. 2018

[3] SCOPE. Dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: investigation and management of dyspepsia, symptoms suggestive of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or both. National Institute of Clinical Excellence. 2012

[4] National Institute of Health. Selenium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2019

[5] Rennie. Heartburn triggers. 2016

[6] Harvard Health Publishing. What to eat when you have chronic heartburn. Harvard University. 2019

[7] Richter, JE. et al. Efficacy of omeprazole for the treatment of symptomatic acid reflux disease without esophagitis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2000

Tags: Acid Reflux

Why Are Some of Your Favourite Food and Drinks Causing Your Acid Reflux?

Posted Tuesday 10 December 2019 09:53 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

To some of us, heartburn can feel unavoidable, but the things you eat and drink can play a significant role in the severity of your symptoms

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GORD or – more commonly – acid reflux and heartburn, is a common condition in the UK. In fact, it’s estimated by charity Guts that 25% of all UK adults are living with regular heartburn.[1]

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a significant connection between the severity of your acid reflux and the food and drink you consume. Some of your favourite foods and beverages could be contributing to your symptoms. Here are some of the most common culprits.

Spicy foods

Spicy foods are considered to be among the most common heartburn triggers, due to the fact that many of them contain a compound called capsaicin, which is thought to slow the rate of digestion. Because of this, food sits in the stomach for longer, which increases the risk of heartburn.

Studies have revealed the risks of consuming spicy foods for heartburn sufferers. One Australian study found that consuming foods rich in chilli powder decreased the rate of digestion.[2]

High-fat foods

Like spicy foods, fatty foods have been shown to increase the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms occurring, but in a very different way.

Fatty foods can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to escape from the stomach into the oesophagus and cause acid reflux.[3]

What’s more, foods that are high in fat can also encourage the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). This has also been shown to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux.[4]

Citrus juice

Although it is not entirely clear how it occurs, multiple studies have shown that citrus juices like orange juice and grapefruit juice can act as a trigger for heartburn symptoms.

For example, one Korean study found that 67% of 382 of heartburn sufferers experienced worse symptoms after drinking orange juice.[5] In another study, 73% of people suffered acid reflux after drinking citrus juice.[6]

Alcohol

It’s December, which means many of us will be enjoying more than our average intake of alcohol over the coming weeks. However, for acid reflux sufferers, this can spell increased symptoms.

Like fatty foods, alcohol has been shown to relax the lower oesophageal symptoms, which can trigger heartburn. [7] But as well as this, studies have shown that drinking significant quantities of wine and beer can actually increase the amount of stomach acid in your body, making heartburn more likely to occur.[8]

Coffee

Research into the relationship between coffee and acid reflux is largely ongoing, with some studies concluding that there is no link between the two factors, while others suggest that coffee can be a trigger.

For example, one 1980 study found that, like alcohol and fatty foods, coffee can potentially relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and make acid reflux more likely to occur.[9]

When it comes to drinking coffee, it really depends on your own personal experience. If you find that you can enjoy coffee without experiencing heartburn, there’s no reason to avoid it completely.

Changing your dietary habits can help to tackle your acid reflux symptoms. You can also invest in safe and effective acid reflux medication, available here at Express Pharmacy. Contact one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet live chat service.

[1] Guts UK. Heartburn and Acid Reflux. 2019

[2] Horowitz, M. et al. The effect of chilli on gastrointestinal transit. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology. 1992

[3] Holloway, RH. et al. Effect of intraduodenal fat on lower oesophageal sphincter function and gastro-oesophageal reflux. Gut. 1997

[4] Ledeboer, M. et al. Effect of cholecystokinin on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure and transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations in humans. Gut. 1995

[5] Kim, YK. et al. The relationship between the popular beverages in Korea and reported postprandial heartburn. Korean Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010

[6] Feldman, M. et al. Relationships between the acidity and osmolality of popular beverages and reported postprandial heartburn. Gastroenterology. 1995

[7] Chen, SH. et al. Is alcohol consumption associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease? Journal of Zhejiang University, Science. 2010

[8] Chari, S. et al. Alcohol and gastric acid secretion in humans. Gut. 1993

[9] Thomas, FB. et al. Inhibitory effect of coffee on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure. Gastroenterology. 1980


Why Can Unwanted Facial Hair Appear for the First Time in Later Life?

Posted Wednesday 27 November 2019 09:51 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Unwanted facial hair can deliver a knock to your confidence, but understanding more about the condition can give you the tools to tackle it effectively

A significant number of women live with unwanted facial hair every day. But although many women have experienced the condition, it still isn’t often talked about. Overcoming the embarrassment surrounding unwanted facial hair is key to understanding the condition and ultimately treating it.

Excessive hair growth in women is otherwise known as hirsutism. This is defined by the appearance of thick, dark hair on their face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, thighs or buttocks.[1] But for some women, facial hair only becomes an issue as they get older. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between unwanted facial hair and age.

What causes unwanted facial hair?

According to the Indian journal of Dermatology, hirsutism affects as many as one in 10 women, and can run in families. Women of South Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent are also more likely to develop the condition.[2]

There are also several underlying conditions which are associated with unwanted facial hair. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common, accounting for as much as 75% of all hirsutism cases.[3] This can also result in other symptoms like acne and weight gain.

Certain medications can also result in unwanted facial hair. In rare cases, it may be the result of a tumour.

Unwanted facial hair and hormones

No matter what lies behind your unwanted facial hair, the cause is almost always hormonal. Whether it’s a condition like PCOS or a particular medication, the reason that facial hair occurs is due to the change in hormones brought on by these factors, rather than the factors themselves.

Most commonly, unwanted facial hair is caused by an increase in hormones called androgens, or the fact that your body is more sensitive to these hormones.

In fact, during the diagnosis process for hirsutism, your doctor will likely complete blood tests in order to measure your hormone levels.[4]

Hormonal shifts occur during the menopause, but this is often different to hirsutism

Like PCOS and medication, the menopause is just another factor which can alter your balance of hormones. This means that, for some women, facial hair can occur for the first time in later life.

However, the facial hair that some women experience as they age, particularly after the menopause, is different from the coarse hair associated with hirsutism. This hair is commonly finer.[5]

The kind of facial hair which might appear during the menopause is determined by the way your hormones have changed. In simple terms, higher oestrogen levels result in finer, softer, lighter hair, while more testosterone leads to heavier hair. During the menopause, oestrogen levels often diminish but testosterone levels may not.[6] This means that, even if unwanted facial hair has never been an issue before, it can appear during or after the menopause.

Tackling unwanted facial hair

Unless it is a sign of an underlying tumour or growth, excess facial hair is rarely dangerous to your health. So if It doesn’t bother you, you aren’t obliged to treat it at all. However, many women wish to do something about their unwanted facial hair. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available, including laser treatment, electrolysis and topical creams.

Studies have shown that using topical creams like Vaniqa is an effective way to successfully remove unwanted facial hair, especially when combined with other kinds of treatment such as lasers.[7]

Get safe and effective hair removal treatment like Vaniqa right here at Express Pharmacy. Contact our team of pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat system.

[1] NHS UK. Excessive hair growth (hirsutism).2019

[2] Sachdeva, S. Hirsutism: Evaluation and Treatment. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2010

[3] Bode, D. et al. Hirsutism in Women. American Family Physician. 2012

[4] British Skin Foundation. Hirsutism. 2016

[5] NHS UK. Excessive hair growth (hirsutism). 2019

[6] Perry, S. Menopause and new facial hair: oh, pluck this… Gennev. 2018

[7] Shapiro, J. and Lui, H. Treatments for unwanted facial hair. Skin Therapy Letter. 2005


10 Common Risk Factors for Acid Reflux

Posted Thursday 18 October 2018 21:49 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Many people assume that their acid reflux is unavoidable, but there are plenty of things which could be worsening your symptoms unnecessarily.

Acid reflux is a very common condition, affecting as many as one in five people. It occurs when the ring of muscle between the stomach and the oesophagus (known as the lower oesophageal sphincter) struggles to close completely. As a result, acid can leak up from the stomach into the throat, causing discomfort and even pain. Heartburn is one of the leading symptoms of the condition.

Anyone can suffer from acid reflux, and most of us probably will experience it at some point in our lives. However, there are several lifestyle habits and aspects that can significantly increase your chances of experiencing the condition, or make your existing symptoms even worse.

Understanding these risk factors is the first step to overcoming the condition entirely. With that in mind, here are 10 factors that can cause acid reflux.

Eating large meals

When eating large meals, your stomach stretches. This is what gives you that ‘stuffed’ feeling, but it also puts pressure on your lower oesophageal sphincter to keep everything down. Try to get into the habit of eating smaller meals more frequently.

Lying down after eating

Gravity has a part to play in acid reflux. Staying upright after eating gives your stomach the best chance of keeping all the acid down, so avoid lying down immediately after consuming a meal.

Being overweight or obese

Research has found that weight gain of 10 to 20 pounds can increase your risk of acid reflux threefold. The more weight you gain, the greater your risk becomes. Try to introduce healthier food options and a regular fitness regime into your routine, starting small and building it up over time. You can also find effective weight loss medication from Express Pharmacy.

Bending over at the waist after eating

Again, this has a lot to do with gravity. Try to avoid bending over when you still feel full, as this can literally squeeze stomach acid up into the throat.

Snacking before bed

Eating just before bed is particularly bad for acid reflux. Not only are you lying down, but you’re also increasing your risk of heartburn. Try to avoid eating three to four hours before bed, and when you do sleep, raise your chest and neck higher with pillows.

Indulging in certain foods

Certain foods are worse for acid reflux than others, particularly fatty foods and spicy foods. These create more stomach acid than others, making it more likely that some will leak upwards. Avoid citrus, chocolate, tomato, onions, cheese and garlic as much as possible.

Drinking certain beverages

Similarly, drinks like alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee can all aggravate your acid reflux and cause heartburn, so avoid these where possible.

Smoking

There are countless reasons to stop smoking, but one of the them is that nicotine consumption can loosen your lower oesophageal sphincter, making heartburn and acid reflux more likely.

Pregnancy

Progesterone, the main hormone in pregnancy, slows your digestive system. This, along with the weight gain and stomach pressure associated with pregnancy, can all significantly increase your chances of experiencing acid reflux. This means that, if you are pregnant, it’s even more important to take precautions against the condition.

Taking certain painkillers and medications

Though we often rely on them as a quick-fix treatment, common painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen can actually make acid reflux worse. This is also true of certain muscle relaxers and blood pressure tablets.

What can you do?

Thankfully, effective acid reflux relief medication is available. Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Losec and many other options work by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces, therefore reducing the risk of acid leaking into the oesophagus. Each of these options have had their effectiveness and reliability proven. What’s more, they are all available from Express Pharmacy.

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0208 123 07 03. Alternatively, you can get in touch via our discreet Live Chat service.