3 Common Foods That May Give You Heartburn (And Why)
According to the Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, more than 60 million Americans are suffering from heartburn at least once a month. The burning, painful sensation appears in the lower chest area can cause plenty of discomfort and may even affect your overall life quality.
It’s even more surprising when we consider the fact that heartburn isn’t a disease per se, but rather a symptom. Every time you’re experiencing heartburn, you’re actually suffering from acid reflux.
What is acid reflux?
This condition causes a malfunction of the esophageal sphincter, a ring-shaped muscle that usually stays closed to prevent stomach acid from traveling up to your chest and throat. Naturally, the esophageal sphincter only opens up when you swallow or belch.
Like any other muscle in our body, the esophageal sphincter can also be weakened. When this happens, the acid that usually stays in your stomach reaches the esophagus causing that unpleasant heartburn sensation.
A Gastroenterology Clinics of North America report states that 60% of those struggling with heartburn choose to take medicine before making any changes in their lifestyle.
However, diet plays a huge role in strengthening (or weakening!) the esophageal sphincter. Today, we’re going to look at 5 harmful foods that may cause heartburn.
3 Foods You’re Probably Eating That Cause Heartburn
Unfortunately, any type of foods high in fats could potentially cause heartburn – and that includes even the healthiest options.
That’s because high-fat foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which makes stomach acid escape from the stomach and get to the esophagus. Another reason is that fats can increase your body’s production of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone which can also relax the esophageal sphincter and bring acid reflux.
However, fats are an essential part of anyone’s diet so it’s crucial that you include them to your daily meals in moderate quantities. Additionally, make sure that you only get healthy fats to maximize the nutritional intake and prevent extreme acid reflux.
Don’t know a thing about healthy and unhealthy fats? Let me explain each briefly.
Right now, there are four types of fat available on the market:
- Polyunsaturated fats. These are the good guys; extremely rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fats, this type of fat can reduce inflammation, maintain a healthy hormonal balance and improves brain functions.
Main sources: flax seeds, salmon
- Monosaturated fats. This type of fat regulates your insulin sensitivity and helps to maintain normal energy levels.
Main sources: avocado, Macadamia nuts
- Saturated fats. While they’re not as scary as the next type of fat, it’s best to avoid saturated fats as much as possible. This type of fat may increase the long-term risks for heart disease, diabetes and might even cause hormonal imbalances.
Main sources: bacon, hot dogs, sausages
- Trans fats. This is the most dangerous type of fat because it’s manufactured by humans; aside from the fact that it has virtually no calories, trans fat can be a major risk factor for cancer. In fact, these fats are so dangerous that some countries and jurisdictions (Montgomery Country or Baltimore, for example) restricted the use of trans fats in food service establishments.
Main sources: doughnuts, fried chicken, coffee creamer, margarine, processed meals