The Acid Reflux Diet and Causes the of Heartburn

What to Know Before You Begin

Heartburn has many triggers, including what a person eats, the medications they take and whether or not they are overweight. There is a significant amount of research and debate going on about the role diet plays in heartburn. Many people who suffer from chronic heartburn say they can trace some of their heartburn triggers to certain foods they eat.

Since we have to eat, we need ways to prevent food from triggering heartburn. The resources below will help guide you through the process of creating a diet plan that will help keep you heartburn-free.

Learn which foods trigger your heartburn.

Al's #1 Italian Beef
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If you suffer from frequent heartburn (that is, two or more times a week), it is a good idea to keep a heartburn diary for a week or two to track the foods that may be causing problems. You can use a printable color diary or a black-and-white version.​

Understand why some foods are bad for you.

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There are a couple reasons why some foods cause heartburn:

  1. When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) - the valve between your esophagus and your stomach - relaxes when it shouldn't
  2. When the stomach produces too much acid

When the LES is the culprit, food and stomach acid come back up into the esophagus. Some foods that relax the LES include:

  • Greasy and fried foods
  • High-fat meat
  • Butter and margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Creamy sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Whole milk dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Caffeinated beverages (i.e. soft drinks, coffee, tea, cocoa)

Foods that stimulate acid production and increase heartburn include:

  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruit and juices (i.e. orange and grapefruit)
  • Tomato-based products

Other possible connections between heartburn and food are when you eat and how much you eat. Eating too closely to bedtime or eating too large of a meal late at night can contribute to nighttime heartburn. For more information, read about preventing nighttime heartburn.

It is important to remember that because everyone is different, keeping a heartburn diary will be helpful in determining which specific foods are problems for you.

Learn which foods are better.

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As mentioned above, everyone is different. What may be a problematic food for others may not cause you any distress, and what may be a safe food for others may cause you heartburn every time you eat it. Again, this is why keeping a heartburn diary is important.

There is a list of foods that are the least likely to cause heartburn and a list of foods that should be eaten only in moderation. These are by no means comprehensive lists, but they are good starting points to use with a heartburn diary to create your acid reflux diet.

Some "safe" foods include:

  • Fresh juice and fruit juices (not citrus)
  • Vegetables (i.e. green veggies, carrots, baked potatoes)
  • Lean meat, chicken breast, and fish
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products

Learn no-burn recipes.

Healthy chicken dinner
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To aid in good digestion, heartburn sufferers need to know how to prepare their food. It's not just the foods you eat; it's also how they're prepared.

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