Acid reflux, also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease or pyrosis, is when stomach acid content irritates the food pipe or esophagus. The irritation happens when stomach acid travels up the food pipe, thus burning the pipe’s lining.
Joining the esophagus and the stomach is a valve that normally prevents acid from going up the food pipe. A person suffering from acid reflux has a weakened valve that ceases to function as required. This results in acid reflux – a burning sensation in the lower part of the chest area. The leading causes of acid reflux include stress, smoking, obesity, fatty foods, spicy food, and pregnancy.
Challenges of dealing with acid reflux and foods to avoid
Suffering from acid reflux comes with experiencing some difficulties. If the condition is severe, a person may experience life-threatening complications such as shortness of breath or even throat cancer if the situation is not addressed early enough. Other common challenges experienced may be difficulty swallowing, chest pains, severe heartburn, weight loss, indigestion, or bloating.
Because some types of food worsen the condition, a large part of acid reflux treatment involves avoiding these foods and being disciplined with your diet.
Eliminate the foods listed below from your diet if you suffer from acid reflux:
Chocolate contains cocoa, which has the “happy hormone” called serotonin. But it also has caffeine and theobromine. These contents in chocolate work to relax the lower esophageal sphincter. When the sphincter is relaxed, it allows stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and acid reflux.
Citrus fruits and juices put you at a high risk of acid reflux due to their high acidity levels. When you consume lemons, oranges, or their juices, they add acid to the stomach and too much acid, in turn, burns the lining of the esophagus.
Even tomatoes are slightly acidic and should therefore be avoided by acid reflux sufferers.
- Fatty Foods
If you suffer from acid reflux, aim to reduce your intake of fried and fatty foods. Fatty foods weaken the esophageal sphincter, which can cause or worsen pyrosis, by allowing stomach contents to move back up to the esophagus. Research indicates that individuals who consume high amounts of fried foods are more likely to experience acid reflux, especially during sleep.
- Spicy Foods
Be sure to check the ingredients in your food before eating. The ingredients used may be spicy, and this is unhealthy for people with acid reflux. Avoid ingredients such as pepper, spicy curries, garlic, and onions. Spicy food contains spices that increase the acid level in the stomach and ultimately intensify heartburn.
- Carbonated drinks and sodas
Carbonated drinks and sodas put an acid reflux sufferer at significant risk for three reasons. First, when taken, these drinks have bubbles that expand when they are in the stomach. This expansion causes unnecessary pressure in the gut that worsens acid reflux.
Secondly, carbonated drinks and sodas contain acid; thus, they increase stomach acidity levels. Thirdly, they relax the esophageal sphincter and let the acid into the esophagus. The intake of these drinks not only causes acid reflux but also worsens the condition and can make it quite severe.
When you find out that you have acid reflux, try as much as possible to avoid foods with high acidity and fat content. Instead, go for low-fat meals, smoothies, fruit juices like carrot juice, and plant-based milks that are healthier and will not cause heartburn and indigestion. It is also advisable that you replace coffee and caffeinated drinks with herbal or ginger tea.
Other essential measures you can take include: drinking a lot of water, avoid alcohol and smoking, watch your weight because being overweight causes pressure in the lower part of your chest, take medication as advised by your doctor, and sleep with your head raised over the rest of your body. With proper acid reflux treatment, the symptoms can be significantly diminished.