Top 8 Foods that Cause Acid Reflux and Heartburn

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Foods that cause heartburn and acid refluxIf you often don’t feel well after eating meals, it may be because you eat foods that cause acid reflux and heartburn. While some people are more prone to getting acid reflux, there are certain heartburn-causing foods that can aggravate the condition.

Acid reflux and heartburn occur when your stomach acid rises into your esophagus or even to the back of your throat. When this happens, you can experience symptoms such as a burning sensation in your chest, a sour taste in your throat, and a gassy, bloating feeling in your stomach.

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8 Foods that Can Cause Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Here are the top foods to avoid if you have acid reflux.

1. Citrus fruit Foods that are acidic can cause acid reflux. Citrus fruits, like tangerines, lemons, and oranges, are some of the most commonly eaten acidic foods. Avoid them is a good idea, but you should also stay away from the fruit juices made from them: orange juice, pineapple juice, and grapefruit juice can all easily cause reflux.

2. Garlic and onion: Garlic is a noted anti-inflammatory and often considered a “superfood.” However, many people with heartburn find that garlic and onions can trigger their conditions. It depends on the person, so it’s important to test the effect garlic or onions may have on you. Sometimes, people don’t realize that garlic is the trigger, as it’s found in other foods such as Caesar salad dressing or marinara sauce.

3. Chocolate: Chocolate is one of the worst foods that cause heartburn—it’s high in fat, high in cocoa, and it contains stimulants, all which can cause acid reflux. Dark chocolate is likely safer than milk chocolate, but it should still be avoided.

4. Tomatoes: Tomatoes don’t seem very acidic, but the truth is they are packed with citric and malic acid, which can help cause acid reflux. Tomatoes and tomato products should be avoided entirely, including marinara sauce, tomato juice, and pizza sauce.

5. Dairy: High-fat foods can trigger heartburn, which means many different types of dairy can also cause the condition. Cheese is a commonly eaten high-fat food, and those fats sit in your stomach, are ready to give you bloating, reflux, and heartburn. Avoid cheese and cream, and stick to low-fat milk.

6. Fried foods: Foods even higher in fat than dairy are fried foods, including fried chicken, french fries, onion rings, and breaded calamari.

7. Soda: Not only are most sodas highly acidic and often loaded with caffeine and stimulants, but their carbonation can also cause acid reflux. When you drink a carbonated soda, the bubbles release gas into your stomach. This forces your esophageal sphincter to open, which allows acid to flow up into your esophagus and throat.

8. Alcohol: You may drink alcohol to relax, but it can also relax your esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow up, causing heartburn. Another issue with alcoholic drinks is that they’re often mixed with acidic mixers, like orange or grapefruit juice, which just makes everything worse.

Pay attention to your diet and eliminate common heartburn-causing foods. Once you have experienced relief, you can try adding some acid reflux–causing foods back into your diet. For instance, you might be able to have one alcoholic drink every day, but having a few could cause reflux. Similarly, a small piece of chocolate may be fine, but eating a big piece of chocolate cake could cause that burning sensation.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to suffer with acid reflux and heartburn. Find out what’s causing it and keep it out of your diet!

Read Next:

Sources for Today’s Article:
“7 Foods That Cause Acid Reflux,” Health.com, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20443643,00.html.

Fetters, K.A., “The 10 Worst Foods for Acid Reflux,” Livestrong.com, November 24, 2015; http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011196-10-worst-foods-acid-reflux/.
Mann, D., “Top 10 Heartburn Foods,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/features/top-10-heartburn-foods.
“What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?,” Nexium web site; https://www.purplepill.com/acid-reflux-disease/acid-reflux-causes-triggers.html.


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Dr. Jeffrey Shapiro, MD

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After receiving athletic and academic awards at Yale and Stanford, Jeff has coached those seeking peak wellness, appeared on ABC News 20/20 and served as a consultant for CBS News 60 Minutes and The Late Show with David Letterman. As the author of many research studies and practicing anesthesiology/critical care medicine for more than 20 years, Jeff can be your guide to common sense decision making regarding drugs, supplements and vitamins. With no corporate sponsors and no vitamins or supplements... Read Full Bio »