They say you are what you eat, and it’s true: A gut-busting burrito can make you feel sluggish and run down, while colorful salads can fuel you with nutrient-powered energy. This old adage is especially true when you have heartburn.
The food you choose to put on your plate and into your stomach causes a chemical reaction that can lead to searing heartburn. While living with heartburn is difficult, finding an effective treatment can be even more frustrating.
At New Life Medical, Dr. Nirav Naik and our experienced staff specialize in treating your heartburn at the source and equipping you with the tools you need to make better diet choices. When the problem goes beyond your diet, you may have a hiatal hernia, which is a common cause of heartburn. In this case, our heartburn surgery coupled with expert advice soothes your singed insides for good.
What is heartburn?
The searing pain in your chest that comes after enjoying a delicious meal is the result of serious gastrointestinal issues. Heartburn occurs when the acid in your stomach backs up into your esophagus, singeing your throat and causing significant discomfort.
You can typically address heartburn with over-the-counter medication. However, when the condition becomes chronic or is left untreated, it can result in severe damage to your esophagus.
Many risk factors increase your chances of developing chronic heartburn, but the most common is a hiatal hernia. It develops in the upper part of your stomach, causing a portion of your stomach tissue to bulge through an opening in your diaphragm. This anatomical abnormality allows for acid backwash to flow freely into your esophagus.
Dr. Naik can repair your hiatal hernia surgically to stop the flow of acid out of your stomach.
Heartburn-causing foods to avoid
In addition to getting surgical treatment for your heartburn when you need it, it’s important that you adopt good dietary habits to reduce your symptoms. Here are five foods to avoid if you want to manage your heartburn.
1. High-fat foods
There’s nothing better than visiting a drive-thru for a hot basket of fries or slicing into a thick, juicy steak. Unfortunately, these and other high-fat foods are heartburn instigators.
Their high-fat content relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), letting stomach acid flow back into your throat. They also take much longer to process and delay stomach emptying.
Examine your diet, and try to cut out fatty foods, including:
- French fries and onion rings
- Full-fat dairy products
- Fatty or fried cuts of red meat
- Bacon and ham fat
- Ice cream
- Potato chips
- Creamy sauces like gravy
- Oily, greasy foods
It can be difficult to make these kinds of dietary sacrifices, but your gastrointestinal health will reap the benefits.
2. Citrus fruits
You’ve been told your whole life to eat more fruits and vegetables. While we completely agree that fruit is an important part of a balanced diet, some fruits may cause more harm than good when you struggle with heartburn.
Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pineapple, and tomatoes are extremely acidic and only add fuel to your heartburn fire.
Chocolate might be your favorite thing to snack on or drizzle on dessert, but the sad truth is that it contains methylxanthine. This compound is known to relax your LES and increase reflux.
4. Spicy foods
Are you a sucker for all things spicy? You might have to turn down the heat on your plate if you don’t want to feel the burn in your chest. Spicy foods like onions and garlic can set off reflux and trigger heartburn.
If you’re a serial coffee or tea drinker, you probably notice that your heartburn gets worse after your first steaming cup. The caffeine in your favorite beverages stimulates your acid reflux and the resulting burning in your chest.
We realize that some of your favorite foods are likely in this list. While dietary changes can be hard to make, the relief from heartburn pain will be worth it.
If you’d like more information about managing your heartburn or would like to be evaluated for heartburn surgery, call our Bakersfield, California, office at 661-447-4559, or request an appointment online today.