Whether you just want to avoid random bouts of heart burn or have a chronic condition like Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) it is best to know what causes that awful keep-you-up-all-night condition. There are certain foods that trigger heartburn, some of them are obvious like acidic foods such as tomato sauce. However, others are significantly less obvious and sometimes even surprising.
It's best to get the most obvious out of the way first. Acidic foods are often blamed for chronic heartburn, making sufferers cut all acidic foods out completely from their diet. However, not all acidic foods cause heart burn. Some people may get heart burn from orange juice, for example, and blame it on the acid, however even nonacidic orange juice will still cause them heart burn. Food triggers differ for different people, so it important to keep a food log to find out what does it for you. Though there are a lot of common ones to watch out for.
The most common of culprits. That slice of pizza, the mountain of spaghetti and meatballs, the amazing chili, all of that involves tomato sauce, paste, or juice. All of which will trigger heartburn. Especially try to avoid these foods before bed. Tomatoes love to irritate the esophageal sphincter letting stomach acid leak into your throat while you are laying in bed.
Next to tomatoes, citrus fruits are the next biggest cause. Many people believe that this causes heart burn due to the high acidity. this may be true for some people, but not all. Citrus fruits acidity can irritate the stomach acid, in particular if you eat or drink citrus fruit items on an empty stomach. Try to at least eat it after a bready meal or with some dry toast. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, cranberries, lemons, limes, and oranges. This includes juices made from these fruits as well.
Alcohol, especially wine, is incredibly acidic. The acidity, combined with the general burn of alcohol is enough to upset any stomach. It is best to avoid alcohol before bed unless you want to have an unpleasant night of heart burn. While wine is the most acidic, beer and hard liquor also have their fair share of acidity as well. If you have heart burn problems, it is best to avoid the devil's nectar all together. Especially if you like to enjoy your liquor with a slice of pizza or mixed in citrus fruit juices, those are just double whammies.
Caffeine is another big trigger of heartburn. This include coffee, tea, and soda pop. These are all acidic, though coffee and tea only have a slight acidity. However, the caffeine in them triggers heart burn. this doesn't mean you can ever inbibe in these drinks, though. As they say, all things in moderation. A average size cup of coffee or tea in the morning and a soda at lunch is perfectly fine. however, if you are guzzling soda and coffee all day, you are going to have heart burn (and possibly insomnia) as a consequence. Try to avoid drinking huge two liters of soda and getting the biggest size coffee at Starbucks.
Many people do not handle spicy foods well. It irritates the stomach in a variety of different ways. Perhaps it irritates your bowels or maybe just results in an evening full of heart burn. Some of the obvious ones like hot sauce cause heart burn because of the tomato sauce content inside of it.
Almost every dish calls for black pepper for flavor and that little bit of bite. If you find yourself consistently getting heart burn, you may want to check on how much black pepper you are using in your cooking. If it is in every dish, you may want to cut it out or at least cut the amount you put in half.
Onions are a key ingredient to many dishes, spicy or no, they are also a popular food that causes heart burn. Onions lose a lot of their stomach irritating ability when fully cooked, so make sure they are in your dishes. Raw onions however, heavily irritate the stomach lining and are a frequent cause of acid reflux.
Like onions, garlic is used in many food dishes. however, unlike onions, it does not matter if garlic is raw or cooked. Garlic is a frequent irritant for many people. Even extracts like garlic salt can cause acid reflux if used in too great amount. Be sure to strictly control the amount of garlic in your food.
Food high in fat and grease are also common heart burn triggers. Unlike with spicy or acidic foods that irritate the stomach, fatty food cause acid reflux because the fat and grease digests in the stomach and can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, thus letting stomach acid leak out.
Shocked? Every frequent heartburn sufferer knows that a quick way to sooth the fierceness of acid reflux is to enjoy a nice tall glass of milk. This is true, but only if it is low fat milk. The fattiness in milk may sooth irritation, but it can cause the heart burn to relapse later. This also holds true for sour cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, and milkshakes.
This is an obvious one. Fried foods like french fries, fried chicken, and corndogs are high in both fat and grease. These are alright in moderation, but never alright before bed.
Meat, especially beef, should be closely monitored for those that struggle with acid reflux. The fat in meat especially ground beef and heavily marbled steaks can cause heartburn. It doesn't mean you have to go a life without beef, heaven's no! Just get beef with the lowest fat content you can find. Perhaps even skip eating the gristle off your steak as well. You should also be weary of chicken products like chicken tenders, chicken nuggets, and chicken wings. Especially those of the buffalo variety. The spiciness as well as the friedness of it all is just screaming of a long sleepless night.
This may make it seem like EVERY food is off limits if you have heartburn, but there are plenty of recipes out there that cleverly and creatively recreate favorite recipes to avoid heartburn.