Heartburn is said to be experienced when there is a painful burning feeling in your chest or throat.
And studies have shown that this condition happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, a long, muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Under normal circumstances, it is impossible for stomach acid to escape into the esophagus because of a barrier called the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is a ring-like muscle that naturally stays closed, and only opens when you swallow or belch.
But it is different in people with acid reflux, as the muscle is often weakened; hence, one of the reasons why people with acid reflux usually experience heartburn.
However, medical practitioners claim that if you have heartburn more than twice a week, you may have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is also important to note that you can have GERD without having heartburn.
Be that as it may, there are certain factors that are known to bring on heartburn, and they include pregnancy, certain foods, alcohol, and some pharmaceutical medications.
Here are some of the foods that are known to cause heartburn
1. Citrus fruits
As surprising as it sounds, oranges, grapefruits, and orange juice are classic heartburn foods.
And according to the founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Md. and a gastroenterologist at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C.Robynne Chuktan, MD, the aforementioned fruits are very acidic and more likely to cause heartburn as result of their nature when consumed on an empty stomach.
2. High-fat foods
However, studies have shown that there are two ways high-fat foods can trigger heartburn.
First, they may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that acts as a barrier between the esophagus and the stomach. When this muscle relaxes, stomach acid can escape from the stomach into the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Second, high-fat foods stimulate the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). This hormone may also relax the lower esophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux.
3. Spicy food
Recent studies have shown that spicy foods often contain a compound called capsaicin, which may slow the rate of digestion.
And when this happens, foods are likely to sit in the stomach longer than usual, which is a risk factor for heartburn.
For example, one study showed that consuming chili that contained chili powder slowed the rate of digestion. In addition, spicy foods may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, and this can worsen heartburn symptoms.
Thus, it is advisable to reduce your intake of spicy foods if you’re prone to heartburn.
Although the health benefits of onion are priceless, studies have shown that it is a common trigger for heartburn, especially when it is consumed raw.
And this is because it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which may cause acid reflux and symptoms of heartburn.
Recent studies have also shown that onions are a rich source of fermentable fiber, which may cause belching; and belching can aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
Although milk is commonly consumed to treat heartburn, studies have shown that drinking whole milk may actually cause symptoms, instead of relief.
As a matter of fact, a recent research suggests that whole milk may increase stomach acid production, which is a risk factor for heartburn.