Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive condition that affects the lower esophageal sphincter, resulting in the reflux of acid into the esophagus. GERD primarily causes extreme discomfort in the chest, resulting in extreme heartburn. These symptoms can be triggered by certain lifestyle choices, such as certain diets and certain foods. Specific foods, such as spicy foods or foods that contain a lot of acid, can trigger GERD and heartburn in an instant. The following slides will give you an indication of what exact foods you should avoid if you have GERD.
Foods that contain acid, such as lemons, tomatoes, and citrus fruits, will most likely cause heartburn. Although removing these foods from your diet might seem limiting, you will benefit in the long run. It is better to avoid potential discomfort, and opt for foods that have equal nutrition but less acidity. Instead of citrus fruit, try eating grapes. They are equally as juicy, and better to eat when you have GERD.
Certain spices and spicy foods, such as pepper, jalapeños, and chili peppers, are tolerable in minuscule amounts. However, it is not wise to make eating food items similar to those mentioned a habitual part of your diet. Spicy food directly triggers acid reflux, and can cause severe symptoms to surface.
Why do spicy foods trigger GERD?
- Spicy foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, allowing acid to enter the esophagus.
- Spicy foods increase your risk of heartburn immensely.
The body tends to break down foods that are high in fat more slowly, when compared to other foods, such as certain vegetables and fruits. The longer fatty foods remain in your stomach, the more acid will secrete into the stomach, which is the body's attempt to break down the food. The continuous buildup of acid will eventually cause acid reflux.
Fatty foods to avoid:
- Foods that have been fried
- Foods that contain high amounts of sugar
- Greasy foods
Contrary to popular belief, peppermint does not actually soothe your stomach if you are normally prone to heartburn. In fact, it is one of the classic triggers of heartburn for people who have heartburn regularly.
Why does peppermint cause heartburn?
- Peppermint relaxes the sphincter muscles, which allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
- Along with acid reflux, peppermint will also cause the characteristic sour taste caused by the acid that entered the esophagus.
Although heartburn triggers vary depending on the individual, garlic and onions typically trigger acid reflux for the majority of GERD patients. Garlic and onion can ultimately cause heartburn, leading to the uncomfortable fiery sensation within the chest.
It is important to be conscious of what you are consuming; popular meals contain garlic and onions, so do your best to avoid them. Your safest bet is to carefully choose what you eat, or try and substitute garlic and onions for other vegetables, if necessary.