What are some common heartburn triggers we want to avoid?
For starters, if you know a certain food always gives you heartburn, it is best to avoid it.
There are certain foods or substances that actually relax the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, allowing for reflux. These are alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and chocolate. In other words, all the really good stuff. Certain foods contain acid like citrus, sodas, and tomato-based products. Large and fatty meals tend to worsen acid reflux. This allows for slower transit of food through the stomach opening up the chance for reflux. Peppermint is a double-edged sword when it comes to the stomach. Peppermint tea, peppermint-oil capsules, and even peppermint candies are often used to settle upset stomachs—but these remedies can backfire on people with GERD. The soothing and numbing effect of menthol tends to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause stomach acids to drift up the esophagus more easily, aggravating heartburn. Finally, try to avoid lying down after a meal. Eating dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime can aid in a more restful sleep.
Certain types of exercise can also trigger GERD symptoms, mainly anything where you would be bending to increase pressure on the abdomen. Despite that, weight loss from exercise can really help heartburn, but it’s best not to work out on a full stomach.
Many different medications can also trigger heartburn or worsen it. Regular use of aspirin or ibuprofen tends to irritate the esophagus. Other culprits include many blood pressure medications, narcotic pain killers, and progesterone.
If you believe any of these triggers are causing your suffering please contact your doctor. Get educated. Get Evaluated. Get Treated.