What causes heartburn and acid reflux?
In an average person, the oesophagal sphincter (a muscular band that lets food pass into the stomach and then contracts to prevent backflow into the oesophagus) protects the oesophagus from stomach acid. However, if the sphincter relaxes or weakens, the stomach contents may push upward and cause acid reflux.
Acidity and heartburn are most frequently reported after having a meal. Food is one of the major factors aggravating acidity as it stimulates the production of stomach acid.
Food that can cause acidity and heartburn
- Spicy, fried and salty food, peppermint, and chocolate can increase acid reflux.
- Citrus juices like orange and grapefruit juice irritate the oesophagus.
- High-fat food items such as cheese and nuts can trigger acid reflux and heartburn.
- Moderate to excess alcohol intake can damage the oesophageal lining.
- Coffee, tea and cola drinks can have an acidic pH and reduce the lower oesophageal sphincter pressure.
Now here are foods that help prevent acid reflux.
High-fibre food items:
- They make you feel full and prevent overeating.
- Whole grains such as oatmeal, couscous and brown rice, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets and carrots, green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and green beans are rich in fibres.
Alkaline food items:
- Alkaline foods have high pH content and can help neutralise stomach acid.
- Alkaline food items include melons, bananas, cauliflower, fennel and nuts.
Watery food items:
- Eating food items that contain a lot of water can dilute and weaken stomach acid, and prevent acid reflux.
- Lettuce, watermelon, celery, cucumber are a few examples of watery food.