According to the National Library of Medicine, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Some studies suggest that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms each day. The symptoms of heartburn are a tight, painful feeling through your chest caused by acid reflux, which happens when stomach acid is released into the esophagus.
The stomach acid eats away at the lining of the esophagus and can eventually cause permanent damage. Certain foods can exacerbate acid reflux, including these five foods you should definitely skip:
- Coffee – Drinking coffee can lead to serious heartburn. Coffee is acidic, which can exacerbate acid reflux. Caffeine also causes heartburn by relaxing the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to rise. Moderation is key – a morning cup of coffee is probably okay, but don’t keep drinking it throughout the day.
- Chocolate – Chocolate is a triple threat. It’s high in fat, which means it takes longer to digest. It’s high in caffeine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter and can let stomach acid creep up. Plus, it’s a natural relaxant, which can relax the sphincter. If you suffer from heartburn, you should definitely skip chocolate.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes, fresh or canned, can be a major trigger for heartburn. While they are very healthy vegetables, tomatoes are naturally acidic. Be wary of tomatoes used in cooking as well – that pasta sauce could come back to haunt you. Don’t forget to skip tomato-based condiments such as ketchup and salsa.
- Oranges – Your breakfast orange juice could be giving you heartburn later in the day. Oranges and other citrus fruit are acidic. Instead of citrus fruits, choose high alkaline foods. These include berries, apples, pears, bananas, and melon.
- Cheese – Cheese is naturally high in fat. High fat foods delay digestion, putting pressure on your esophageal sphincter and letting acid through. Cheeses with the highest fat content include cheddar, cream cheese, Gouda, Parmesan, and Stilton. Cheese sauces can be particularly bad, as they also typically contain high amounts of heavy cream and butter.