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Foods that Cause Heartburn

By Sara Butler

Every single month, 60 million Americans are affected by heartburn. If you’re one of them, you know that it’s a pretty uncomfortable condition to have. What you eat can have a big impact on heartburn, so avoiding certain foods may be in your best interest. Here is a list of foods you may want to avoid so your heartburn doesn’t flare up.

What is Heartburn?

Even though the name implies it, heartburn really has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is a symptom of a condition called acid reflux. Normally, stomach acid is held in the stomach, closed off from the esophagus by a band of ring-like muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. In people impacted by acid reflux, the sphincter often doesn’t close all the way. This causes stomach acid to escape and heartburn is the result.

Some foods can make these symptoms worse. If you can avoid the foods that tend to aggravate the condition, then it can help to control the condition.

Foods High in Fat

High-fat foods can contribute to heartburn -- and it’s not just cheeseburgers. Unfortunately, foods that are healthy can also trigger heartburn symptoms such as cheese, nuts, and avocados.

High-fat foods trigger heartburn because they can relax the band of muscle that keeps stomach acid in the stomach. They also stimulate the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which can also relax the esophageal sphincter. CCK also causes food to stay in the stomach for longer, increasing the risk of acid reflux.

Citrus Juice

Drinking juice, especially citrus juice, can trigger heartburn. No one is entirely sure how or why this occurs, but in studies of people with heartburn, 73 percent experienced increased symptoms of heartburn after drinking grapefruit or orange juice. So, it probably pays to stay away from these if you suffer from heartburn.

Spicy Food

Spicy food is synonymous with heartburn for a lot of people. That’s because they contain a compound called capsaicin. This compound can slow the rate of digestion, causing foods to stay in the stomach longer. Spicy foods also tend to irritate an esophagus that may already be inflamed from heartburn symptoms, making them worse.

Living with heartburn doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food, it just means you need to be aware of foods that can make it worse and make you even more uncomfortable.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lynnwood, Wash.

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