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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.