Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux and GERD. It feels like a burning sensation in your stomach or chest after eating a full meal or certain foods. GERD can also result in vomiting or regurgitation as acid travels into your oesophagus.
Following are the symptoms of heartburn:
- dry cough
- sore throat
- heavy bloating
- hiccups or burping
- trouble in swallowing
- lump in your throat
People with heartburn have noticed that certain foods trigger their symptoms more than others. In other words, some foods can be your kryptonite if they are part of your regular food intake. Staying away from such foods will be best to avoid any acidity issues like GERD and heartburn.
Now, an all-inclusive diet cannot prevent all symptoms of acid reflux, because food triggers are different for every individual.
To identify reasons for heartburn, you can maintain a food diary and track the following:
- What kind of do foods you eat?
- When do you eat them?
- What kind of symptoms do you experience?
Keep noting it down in your diary for at least a week. You can even track your food intake for a longer period if your diet fluctuates. The entries in your diary will help you identify certain foods and drinks that lead to heartburn.
Common trigger foods for people with reflux
Although doctors argue which foods really cause acid reflux symptoms, some foods have been known to cause problems for most people. To control your heartburn symptoms, you could start by omitting the following foods from your daily diet.
Chocolate has an ingredient called methylxanthine. It has been known to relax the smooth muscle in the LES (Lower Oesophageal Sphincter) which in turn increases acids reflux.
Garlic, onions, and spicy foods
Spicy and tangy foods, like onions and garlic, can promote heartburn in many individuals.
Not everyone will experience heartburn with these foods. But if you consume a lot of onions or garlic, ensure you track your meals religiously in your diary.
Fried and high-fat content foods can cause the LES to relax, letting more stomach acid to go back into the oesophagus. These fatty foods also delay stomach discharging.
Consuming high-fat foods puts you at larger risk for acid reflux symptoms, so decreasing your daily fat intake can help.
Eat the following foods in moderation:
- French fries, onion rings or snacks like potato chips
- butter, whole milk, cheese, and sour cream
- fatty or fried parts of beef, pork, or lamb
- fats like bacon fat, ham fat, and lard
- desserts like ice cream
- sauces, gravies, and salad dressings
- foods filled with oil and grease
- Tomatoes and citrus fruits
Fruits and vegetables are crucial in a healthy diet. But some fruits can trigger or worsen heartburn symptoms, specially highly acidic fruits. If you experience acid reflux regularly, you should decrease or remove your intake of the following foods:
- tomato sauce
You can try adding foods to your diet that help reduce heartburn, like oatmeal, bananas, melons, ginger, grains, potatoes, and green veggies.
People usually drink cold milk to treat heartburn. Nevertheless, drinking whole milk may actually trigger heartburn symptoms, not calm them. Milk might also increase stomach acid production, which is a risk factor.
Some people may experience heartburn when drinking coffee. Coffee can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, which can increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
Sodas and Carbonated Beverages
Sodas and carbonated drinks are also common causes for heartburn. These beverages may relax the oesophageal sphincter and intensify the acidity of stomach acid, which are the two risk factors for heartburn.
What lifestyle changes are needed to reduce acid reflux?
Besides nutrition and diet changes for acid reflux, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle changes.
Try these tips:
- You can try Gaviscon, the World’s No. 1 Heartburn Specialist^ that starts working in just 3 minutes and lasts up to 2X longer vs ordinaryantacids*.
- Get to a healthy weight.
- Chew gum but avoid flavours like peppermint or spearmint
- Avoid alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Don’t overeat
- Eat slowly
- Don’t lay down for at least two hours after eating.
- Evade tight clothing.
- Don’t eat for 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Elevate your head four to six inches to decrease reflux symptoms while sleeping.
Personal experiences may vary according to your health conditions.
^Claim based on information aggregated and reported in part from data supplied by Nielsen through its Retail Measurement Services for the defined category (RB defined) for the 12 month period ending June 2020, for the defined RB geographic focus.
*Comparing Gaviscon with select ordinary antacid
I. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium--aluminium antacid gel. J Int Med Res. 1980;8(4):300-2.
II. Mandel KG etal. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;14(6):669-90
Article published 1 July 2021