Acid Reflux and Trigger Foods

By Justin Kaechele

Many natural remedies relieve reflux symptoms, but all aim at the same goal: to lessen the amount, intensity and frequency of acid reflux episodes.

There are certain foods and beverages that trigger acid reflux, which should be avoided altogether, or at the very least, should be drastically limited in your diet.

Three Main Adverse Affects

Different foods and drinks have different effects on our digestive system, and consequently, some trigger reflux episodes in different ways. There are three main mechanisms from food and beverages that can trigger your reflux symptoms.

First, certain foods can aggravate an already irritated esophagus.

Second, some foods relax your Lower Esophageal Sphincter (the LES, the junction where your stomach connects with your esophagus), which compromises its ability to keep foods down.

Lastly, some beverages we consume can increase the pressure in your stomach.

High Acid Foods

The first types of consumables to avoid are highly acidic foods and liquids. Preexisting reflux causes irritation and inflammation of the esophageal lining. The irritation is only made worse when additional acidic foods are consumed. The result is additional heartburn when acid is introduced “from above.”

There are many highly acidic foods, but one particular ingredient that finds its way into many of our meals is the tomato. Another group to avoid is spicy foods, which tend to trigger reflux. Others include vinegar and processed vegetables such as pickles, sauerkraut, and canned artichokes. Citrus fruits are also highly acidic and acid tends to be concentrated in the juices from lemons and limes.

LES Relaxers

Oddly enough, some of today’s foods and beverages that can create acid reflux episodes are low in acid. Some of these produce a chemical effect on our LES that leaves it less capable to perform its intended function. As mentioned in earlier postings, the LES serves as a valve intended to let food down into your stomach as well as obstructing stomach content from rising back into the esophagus.

This function becomes compromised when certain consumables are digested, which in turn opens the door for stomach acids to rise up into the esophagus. Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods can possibly cause this to occur. Unfortunately, these are four things that many adults enjoy. Avoiding or limiting these substances should reduce reflux episodes and result in fewer symptoms.

Increased Pressure from Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks expand your stomach and increase the pressure that that can force stomach contents up into the esophagus. A belch after a large drink of a carbonated beverage results from the building pressure in our stomach.

The belch is our “pressure valve” releasing (actually the LES), reducing the pressure in the stomach by driving the force upward into the esophagus. This pressure will also push stomach contents upward, resulting in heartburn or other reflux symptoms.

As a result, it is highly recommended that anyone with a weakened LES avoid or significantly reduce their use of carbonated beverages.

Create a Plan of Attack

Those suffering from reflux disease must be conscious of the foods and beverages that can drive their reflux symptoms. Since reflux disease is a chronic condition that progresses slowly, the harmful effects of these elements will increase reflux problems over time – so it’s important to start today!

The foods and beverages mentioned above are the most common ingredients that trigger reflux symptoms. However, every individual is different and consequently, you must be aware of the specific items that trigger your reflux symptoms.

With that knowledge, you should build and commit to a personal plan designed around the foods and liquids that you need to avoid. Plan what you eat and eat what you plan! If you create a plan and diligently follow it, you should find relief and improved your health as well.

For other home remedies, check out our acid reflux home remedy summary.

This article has been reviewed by Dr. William Dengler of Legato Medical Systems, Inc.

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