Just because it's hot outside doesn't mean you have to feel the heat of
heartburn when enjoying foods of the season.
Ever chow down at a family picnic, come home, shower, lie down, and feel a
burning pain in your chest and acid crawling up your throat like a red-hot
snake? These are symptoms of ever-threatening heartburn!
Rodger A. Liddle, MD, professor of medicine and gastroenterologist at Duke
University, tells WebMD that many favorite cookout foods -- such as tomatoes,
barbeque, cocktails or beer, and citrus -- can make acid reflux worse, although
they don't "cause" this much-dreaded condition.
More than 60 million adults experience heartburn at least once a month. It's
believed that more than 15 million Americans suffer from it daily.
Although it has become the staple of commercials and sitcoms, heartburn can
limit activities and productivity. And to those lying there in the dark, or
burping through a long afternoon meeting, heartburn is far from a joking
matter. In its most severe forms it can eat away at the esophagus, which can
lead to esophageal cancer.
Better to recognize heartburn and avoid or treat it.
Causes of Heartburn
To digest food, the stomach is flooded with acid. Between the stomach and
the esophagus is a sphincter muscle that lets the food get to the stomach but
then closes to keep the stomach acid from flowing back up the throat. If this
muscle becomes loose or doesn't work properly, excess stomach acids can
backflow into the esophagus, making it burn and causing the symptoms of
The body tries to counter this not only with the sphincter, explains Liddle,
but with saliva, which is alkaline. But sometimes these mechanisms are overcome
by circumstance. Some factors that make heartburn more likely:
Lying down after eating
Bending over after eating
Wearing tight clothing
Eating trigger foods
Foods That Trigger Heartburn
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux
and of a new DVD titled The Heartburn-Friendly Kitchen, tells WebMD that
trigger foods vary from person to person.
"People tend to know," Liddle says. "They will say, 'I get
heartburn every time I eat pizza.'"
Some real culprits that turn up time and time again are:
Fatty meats and deep-fried foods (they stay in the stomach longer, giving
acid more of a chance to wander)
Excessive alcohol consumption
Tomato products (salsa, catsup)
Colas and coffee (caffeine and carbonation are both suspect)
Some of these weaken the hold of the sphincter, while some scratch at
irritation that is already there.
Other foods can bloat your stomach and force the acid back up your throat.
These include carbonated beverages.
A good rule of thumb is not to eat greasy meals and foods that are already
chock-full of acid.