Heartburn or GERD is a condition where the sphincter that controls the entry and exit of stomach contents opens too frequently or does not close properly. Normally, the LES (the sphincter) closes completely when you are eating or just about all day, but when it doesn’t, this is when the problems begin.
When the LES malfunctions and doesn’t close off the stomach contents, stomach acid and contents can reverse direction and burn the throat. If you experience these refluxes more than two times per week, you may be already afflicted with GERD, and you should consult with your physician for treatment.
The long-term effects of GERD include the destruction of the throat lining and, sometimes, throat cancer. GERD is certainly something that you should be aware of if you want to remain healthy.
Is Yogurt Good for Heartburn?
One double-blind trial showed that consuming yogurt can reduce the feelings of pain and bloating in people who have dyspepsia, which can produce GERD symptoms. While yogurt is not the exact cure for the dyspepsia caused by H. pylori, which is now known as the real cause of stomach ulcers, the integration of dietary intervention in probiotic food can help ease some of the gas and physical distress of the patients. This is a good way to control the effects of GERD and stomach ulcers in general. We highly recommend probiotics (generally speaking) for digestive health, including the control of GERD and to improve the symptoms of an ulcer.
What Foods and Their Nutrients Cause Heartburn?
Conventional medicine has identified different food items and beverages known to increase GERD incidence of heartburn in adults. These foods and beverages include:
- Spicy foods – Spicy foods can contain irritants such as capsaicin that can irritate the lining of the throat and the stomach, and cause reflux, gas, and stomach pain. If you have already been diagnosed with GERD, spicy foods should be last on your list if you are modifying your diet, as these will not improve your symptoms.
- Onions – Onions are known for triggering GERD because they relaxed the esophageal sphincter. Additionally, onions contain fermented dietary fiber that can increase the likelihood of reflux due to its inherent acidity.
- Fatty food – Fatty food is bad for GERD sufferers because they encourage the compound cholecystokinin release, which relaxes the sphincter and triggers the reflux right after eating.
- Mint – Mint is a great herb for cooking and preparing beverages. However, mint in its dried or fresh form can irritate the lining of the stomach, which can increase the condition needed for the relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, causing a person heartburn.
- Citrus juice and fruits – Citrus juice and fruits are naturally acidic as they contain several types of acids. One study showed that GERD sufferers have a high likelihood of suffering from bouts of reflux immediately after drinking orange juice and other similar juices. The event is called post-prandial reflux and is very common for people who suffer from GERD and stomach ulcers. Suppose you suffer from painful reflux right after eating. In that case, you may have to take proton pump inhibitors continuously to reduce your stomach acidity and reduce the incidence of heartburn.
- Chocolate – Unfortunately for chocolate lovers, the beloved cocoa is known for relaxing the esophageal sphincter, too. Eating chocolate makes people feel good, and as they do so, the body releases serotonin, which has the unintended effect of relaxing the esophageal sphincter. We recommend pacing yourself when eating chocolate so you don’t suffer from reflux while still enjoying your chocolate.
- Salt – It is still not completely understood why people develop heartburn from eating food rich in salt. However, some studies have already identified a link between salt intake and GERD, so you’d best avoid eating salty food anyway. If you can’t eat food with salt, you probably have to dilute the salt with lots of fluids after eating. Avoid salting your food while seated on the table, as you wouldn’t be able to estimate how much salt you are adding properly. Also, condiments like fish sauce and soy sauce have a ton of salt per tablespoon, so it would be best to steer clear of these condiments.
- Alcoholic beverages – Unfortunately, your favorite craft beer may also be causing you to have painful gastric refluxes, and you must control your intake of it if you want to reduce the GERD symptoms, too. Alcohol affects the body differently compared to other foods.
It lowers the position of the esophageal sphincters, bringing the opening closer to the stomach’s contents. This relaxation isn’t permanent, but it is sufficient to the point that it can cause reflux disease.
The reflux won’t always happen, so it has something to do with how much alcohol you drink each time. The effect is also not limited to beer. Any alcoholic beverage can trigger the same reaction.
When people suddenly feel nauseated and blow bits after taking alcohol, that usually means that the esophageal sphincter has been lowered sufficiently to merit the release of the stomach’s contents.
Unfortunately, frequent vomiting and gastric reflux will destroy all the surfaces that it comes to contact with, including the teeth. Ensure you control your alcoholic intake if you have GERD to avoid complications later on in life.
- Coffee – It is also unfortunate that the world’s most beloved morning (and all-day) beverage can also modify the esophageal sphincter’s position and lower it to cause or trigger reflux. While many people experience this daily, they continue consuming coffee, which may exacerbate the symptoms.