According to a report from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), approx. 20% of the American population is struggling with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). If you have been diagnosed with this condition, here are some foods and activities that may cause heartburn and worsen your symptoms.
- Foods that have high-fat content e.g., beef, pork, butter, greasy foods, and cheese trigger heartburn. They sit in the stomach for long periods, producing more acid and inflaming the digestive system.
- Edibles to avoid include chocolate, citrus fruits/juices, spicy foods, and mint. Also stay away from coffee, carbonated drinks, alcoholic drinks, refined sugar, and tomato sauce.
- Large meals, even if they don’t contain heartburn triggers, are bad for GERD patients. When your belly is overfilled, it stretches the stomach and affects the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter to keep stomach acids down. It’s better to eat 5/6 small meals than to eat 2/3 big ones.
- Don’t eat close to bedtime. It is harder for food to digest when you’re lying down, and undigested food triggers heartburn; that’s why many GERD symptoms manifest/worsen at night. Eat your last meal of the day 2/3 hours before you lie down to sleep.
- Ab workouts like sit-ups and crunches exacerbate the symptoms of GERD. This does not mean you should stop exercising, though. Just don’t work out when your stomach is full.
- Some drugs trigger/worsen heartburn. Examples include NSAIDs (e.g. Ibuprofen and Celecoxib), some blood pressure medicines, asthma drugs, sedatives, chemotherapy drugs, etc.
Consult a doctor for a more personalized list of drugs to avoid, and professional advice on how to alleviate GERD symptoms.
If you live in the Greater Houston Area, visit a PCP for Life facility for all your primary healthcare needs. Call 281-968-4096 now for inquiries or to make an appointment.