Between gastric pain and feelings of acidity, heartburn is one of the most common and unpleasant digestive disorders. In addition to painful sensations in the sternum, there is often also acid reflux back up into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD). Pregnant women, for example, are often affected by this stomach acidity, which can be difficult to live with. And while there are many natural remedies to deal with it after a heavy meal, it is the food itself that has the most immediate and effective effect. To find out quickly what foods you should avoid eating too much of in case of heartburn. This will help you to limit these undesirable inflammatory digestive symptoms that leave a bitter, acidic taste in your throat and mouth.
1) Beverages that you must avoid
It is impossible to talk only about the foods that promote heartburn when so many drinks have irritating effects. For example, this is especially the case with alcohol, which is toxic. It causes the sphincter to relax. This valve prevents the stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. Therefore, even a small amount will be enough to cause the stomach contents to rise. Unfortunately, coffee and tea can also contribute to irritation of the esophagus and loosening of the sphincter. This is related to their theine and caffeine content, which damages the digestive system.
The milk that sometimes accompanies them relieves burns for a while before intensifying the discomfort. In fact, it promotes the secretion of gastric juices, especially when it is chosen whole. Therefore, choose at least skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and possibly other sources of calcium (parsley, cabbage, etc.). Finally, sodas and soft drinks are other bad pupils in this respect, and not just because they make you bloated! In fact, they increase the volume of the stomach and damage the lower esophageal sphincter. What’s more, they often contain caffeine or theine in addition to sugars in large quantities, resulting in a cocktail effect that the stomach doesn’t appreciate.
2) Foods that are too fatty should be avoided in case of heartburn
As complex products, saturated fats require slow chemical reactions to promote their absorption. As a result, red meats, cold cuts, pastries, fried foods and other dishes with sauces slow down digestion. And, of course, this increases acid secretion to help the stomach and results in more intense uptake. In addition, it makes the muscle separating the stomach and oesophagus less able to close, which increases heartburn.
3) Prepared dishes and highly processed foods, other enemies of heartburn sufferers
These products don’t look like it, but they are packed with additives and preservatives. But here, what is most disturbing is that they contain an abundance of elements that promote digestive burns. First of all, they contain large quantities of hidden fats. This is not without echoing what we were saying earlier about the harmful effects of fat on the digestive process. On the other hand, these dishes also have a high sugar and/or salt content. However, too much sugar will slow down gastric emptying where salt triggers burning and pain by increasing irritation of the mucous membrane.
4) Chocolate, another food whose consumption must be slowed down
Bad news for gourmets! The methylxanthines in cocoa and chocolate promote gastric reflux by inducing a decrease in the resting tension of the oesophageal sphincter. For fragile stomachs that can’t put a cross on their sweet sin, we recommend dark chocolate. White and milk chocolate are far too sweet and fatty. On the other hand, a few dark squares from time to time won’t make you sick.
5) Certain cheeses in the list of foods that cause heartburn
By slowing down gastric emptying, the cheese will slow down digestion. Add to this the moulds that ferment and you get certain cheeses that become bombs in the stomach. Typical examples are blue, Roquefort, Livarot, Camembert or Munster. Also, don’t hesitate to watch your consumption. In addition, cheese lovers may prefer cooked cheeses (Emmental, Gruyère…) for tastings that are always tasty, but above all easier to digest.
6) Onion and tomato, two basic ingredients to beware of.
Like the Gherkin, the onion is a fermentable food. This means that they will both tend to ferment in the intestine and interfere with the resistance of the muscle which reduces acid reflux and heartburn. To avoid this, you should therefore cook it as soon as your recipes allow and not overcook it. Tomatoes should also be cooked (and if possible without their skin and seeds). Not only will this increase its level of lycopene (an antioxidant pigment), it will also make it less acidic! Your digestive system and fragile mucous membranes will appreciate it more.
7) Spices, those food sublimators that increase heartburn
Hard to imagine a dish without spices? However, you will have to think about reducing them in your preparations if you have digestion problems… Indeed, they increase the already high acidity of the stomach and further irritate the walls of the oesophagus. A 2014 study showed that the irritating alkaloids in spicy foods had a negative effect on the oesophagus by stimulating its mechanoreceptors. However, this can be more damaging on an oesophagus with lesions. Fortunately, fragile stomachs can rely on herbs to bring a little life to dishes. Also, turmeric is fairly well tolerated, so you don’t have to put all your spices in the cupboard!
8) And finally, limit mint and other acidic foods in case of heartburn.
It is true that our digestive tract has higher natural acidity than foods with a reputation for being so (citrus fruits, etc.), but if your oesophagus is damaged, then it is best to avoid irritating it. Acidic foods have the same tendency as spices to further inflame the walls of the oesophagus. So be careful again with tomatoes (very acidic), citrus fruits (grapefruit, lime, orange, etc.) and… mint. Yes, spearmint and peppermint are more acidic than they seem. By thinning the passage between the stomach and the oesophagus, mint promotes gastric reflux and acid reflux. Consume in moderation!