Got acid reflux? The name might not ring a bell, but the symptoms will. Heartburn, regurgitation and trouble swallowing are all trademarks of this annoying and sometimes debilitating condition.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid escapes through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that separates the stomach from the esophagus. Other symptoms include:
- bloody or black stools
- unexplained weight gain or loss
- ongoing hiccups
- wheezing, dry cough or chronic sore throat
These symptoms are common, but if they happen more than twice a week, you might have acid reflux disease. Risk factors include :
- eating large meals
- lying down after eating or snacking before bedtime,
- being overweight and obesity
- some blood pressure pills, and aspirin and ibuprofen
That said, diet and food choice remain the most common triggers of acid reflux. Most of the problematic foods are high in fat and less-than-healthy. If you’re prone to reflux and related symptoms, tread lightly with this foods. Better yet, steer clear.
Chocolate – Chocolate might be food for the soul, but it’s a common trigger for reflux symptoms. Chalk it up to high levels of caffeine, fat and cocoa. Dark chocolate has less of each, but chocolate is chocolate. If you’ve prone to reflux, take a deep breath and move on.
Soda – What’s bad for your waistline can rot your insides, and soda and carbonated drinks trigger reflux with expanding carbon bubbles in your stomach. Caffeinated and acidic sodas are the worst. That’s most sodas, by the way, but Coke, Tab and Diet Pepsi are among the worst offenders. Avoid.
Fried food – The single most common reason for reflux in the North American diet is fried foods. They’re notorious for causing heartburn, and of course they’re high in fat. Don’t eat fried foods, for your figure and your reflux.
Alcohol – Alcohol doesn’t just relax the mind. Some believe that wine, liquor and beer loosen the LES. That’s the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, remember? When it’s open, stomach acid can enter the esophagus. You know what comes next.
High-fat dairy – Milk does a body good. Just not always when it’s loaded with fat. Butter and yogurt are related dairy products that pack on the pounds and cause reflux. Go for low-fat options, like skim milk and low-fat yogurt. They’ve got as much calcium as their fat cousins, minus the fat, and the reflux.
High-fat meat – Notice a pattern here? Fat causes reflux, and meat is no exception. Skip the fat cuts of meat. That’s beef, steak and lamb, and aim for lean animal products, like skinless chicken breast, and pork. And limit your meat intake to twice a week.
Caffeine – Most of us rely on a cup of Joe in the morning to get our motor revving, but caffeine is one of the worst offenders for acid reflux. You can have your morning coffee or espresso, but keep it at two, or one if your symptoms are bad. Also, think about chamomile or related herbal teas. They’re just as pleasant, and your tummy will like them.