Have you ever woken up in the midst of the night feeling extreme uneasiness in your chest? Or have you ever felt bloated and acidic in the morning and wondered if it was last night's dinner that landed you into this situation? If you are nodding your head right now, you've probably suffered heartburn. Heartburn is a symptom you experience when the esophagus is subjected to an acid reflux due to improper digestion. This ultimately creates a burning sensation in the chest along with pain. When the muscles of the lower esophagus begin to relax, it can create havoc and thus, the burning sensation.
- Heartburn is a symptom that occurs due to improper digestion of food
- There are certain properties of food that can trigger heartburn
- Foods that are acidic in nature and high in sugar should be avoided
What causes heartburn?
Your diet plays a major role in deciding the occurrence of heartburn. What you eat is as important as when you eat to be able to maintain good digestion and avoid heartburn or acidity. All kinds of foods react differently in our body and this too, may change from person to person. Something that may cause heartburn to one person may not cause it to another. Therefore, it is important to keep a keen eye on what might be interfering with your digestive processes. It could be anything, ranging from carbonated beverages to fried foods. Heartburn can also be caused due to overeating which puts extra pressure on your stomach and your digestive system than what they can handle.
Foods that trigger heartburn
According to Bangalore-based Nutritionist, Dr Anju Sood, there are certain properties of foods that can be blamed for causing heartburn.
1. Foods those are acidic in nature
All kinds of meat are high in protein and acidic in nature. If you feel you have a weak gut, avoid meaty dishes. Substitute the protein obtained from meat with vegetarian sources like lentils, soya, nuts and grains like oats and ragi. Most dairy products are also acidic in nature and can cause heartburn. Try skimmed milk if you suffer from poor digestion, suggests Dr. Sood. Certain legumes must be avoided such as rajma and even fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Also, you should never eat citrus fruits or foods that are acidic on an empty stomach and this can trigger acidity and heartburn.
2. Foods with high sugar content
If your body is prone to acidity, fruits such as prunes and plums should be avoided as they are high in natural sugars. According to Dr. Sood, extremely sugary foods trigger acidity in most people. You should even steer clear of carbonated beverages or those with soda as they are filled with sugar and can spike the acid levels in your stomach.
3. Onions, garlic and tomatoes
These three foods are most commonly used in Indian curries but have a very high acid content. Your body takes longer to digest them and that can create an imbalance.
4. Spicy food
Too much paprika, vinegar and chilly can threaten the lining of the stomach and lead to heartburn. If you think spicy food triggers heartburn for you, then switch to a milder version of the same dish and see the difference.
5. Caffeine and alcohol
Drinking alcohol interferes with the regular digestive process in the body as it starts concentrating on breaking down the alcohol first. Too much caffeine, on the other hand, stimulates the production of acid in the stomach and can make the situation worse. Energy drinks are also laden with caffeine and sugar and must be avoided if you are prone to heartburn.
In order to keep acidity and heartburn at bay, the pH level of the foods you consume regularly should be kept in mind. A pH below 7 implies that the particular food item is highly acidic. Another quick tip for an acidic tummy is to eat foods that require more chewing and produce more saliva. Your saliva helps in neutralizing the acid that comes up from the stomach. Natural drinks like buttermilk and coconut water are especially good in summers to relieve acidity as they have a soothing effect on your stomach. The bottom line is that modifying your lifestyle and being conscious of your diet can take you a long way.