There are foods and liquids that can trigger heartburn in most people. We all differ, however, and you will need to pay attention to your body and what foods trigger your symptoms. A heartburn journal is a great tool for helping figure out your heartburn triggers… foods, eating times, clothing worn, activities, reclining after a meal, stresses, and any other things you feel may have caused your heartburn. Food and lifestyle changes are sometimes necessary for controlling heartburn.
Trigger foods can generally do one of three things. They can cause increased acid in the stomach, irritate, and/or the weaken the closure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The increased acid in the stomach can lead to indigestion and heartburn. Irritation of the esophagus and stomach can cause greater sensitivity to stomach acids. And the relaxation of and pressure on the LES can cause acid to reflux into the esophagus. I mention these here to avoid being redundant in the discussion of the foods below.
You may need to limit your intake of heartburn trigger foods or eliminate them from your diet. Note in your heartburn journal if any additional foods irritate your stomach, cause you heartburn, or lead to acid reflux.
Trigger Foods to Avoid:
1) Fried Food
Foods high in fat take longer to digest causing a buildup of acid.
2) High Fat Meats
Fatty meats whether beef, pork, lamb or other can delay digestion causing added acid production and buildup. Low fat cuts or meats are best for managing recurring heartburn.
3) Dairy Products
Milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt are high in fat. Try low fat options and milk alternatives to reduce the fat intake.
4) Spicy Food
Spicy foods can affect the acid levels in your stomach and irritate the lining of the esophagus, stomach and rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
5) Allium Family
Produce from the allium family can cause heartburn. These would be garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. Garlic is used by some to relieve indigestion and heartburn, but it is generally put on the avoid list. Everyone is different, so make note of how garlic effects you. If any of the allium family are in dried form, they are considered spices. These can also cause heartburn as a spice.
Tomatoes have a high acid content.
7) Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are high in acid content.
Coffee intake wether caffeinated or decaffeinated should be limited or avoided. Coffee is acidic, there are oils in coffee that can cause issue, and the caffeine relaxes the LES.
Sodas can be high in acid content, caffeinated sodas will relax the LES, and the carbonation in the soda will cause pressure on the LES.
Alcohol increases acid production, slows the digestive process, and relaxes the LES. If you drink with a meal, keep your meal smaller to help avoid acid reflux.
Products containing mint can settle upset stomachs but it can also relax the LES which can cause issues with acid reflux. There are many different varieties of mint and all may need to be avoided if they affect your LES. Peppermint is regarded as one of the stronger mints and should be avoided if you suffer from acid reflux.
Chocolate is high in fat leading to increased stomach acid. It also contains caffeine and cocoa which will both relax the LES.
Many candies contain acid in some form.