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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Top 10 Heartburn Foods

From coffee to grapefruit -- helpful tips for avoiding those enticing foods that may just trigger your heartburn.
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Heartburn and Spicy Foods

Pepper, Mexican food, chili, and any other food that is loaded with pepper or other spices can trigger heartburn, says Deepa A. Vasudevan, MD. Vasudevan is an assistant professor of family medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He tells WebMD that avoiding heartburn isn't necessarily a matter of all or nothing. "If spicy food triggers your heartburn, avoid it. Then slowly reintroduce milder versions of whatever you like."

Heartburn and Peppermint

Chutkan says that while many people think peppermint is soothing for the tummy, it is actually a heartburn trigger food. Her advice? Skip the after-dinner mints -- especially after a rich meal. "They may be good for your breath on a date," she says, "but they are not so good if you are prone to heartburn."

Peppermint may increase your chances of heartburn because it relaxes the sphincter muscle that lay between the stomach and esophagus. This allows stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.

Heartburn and Cheese, Nuts, Avocadoes, and a Juicy Rib Eye

What do these foods have in common? They are all high in fat, according to Chutkan. "These foods may not get as much press as acidic foods when it comes to heartburn," she says, "but they can be major triggers." Here's why: Fat slows down the emptying of the stomach, so there is more opportunity for a big distended stomach -- which increases pressure on the esophageal sphincter -- to make heartburn more likely.

Chutkan says that doesn't mean you can never have those foods again. "Don't have a cheese plate at the end of a meal," she suggests. "Instead, eat it early in the day when you are not already full." Remember, a serving of cheese is roughly the size of two dice.

Heartburn and Alcohol

Wine, beer, or your favorite cocktail can all trigger heartburn, says Chutkan, especially when they are imbibed with a large meal. "If you have a meal of steak, creamed spinach, and lobster bisque and then alcohol on top of that," she says, "you may be in for it."

Taub-Dix agrees. "A glass of red wine may not be a big deal on its own," she points out. "But if you also have tomato sauce on your pasta and a glass of orange juice in the morning on an empty stomach, it could be a problem." Like peppermint, alcohol opens the sphincter, allowing the acid free range.

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