Foods that can cause heartburn

By Aleena Shelly

A common but annoying symptom is heartburn. It’s frequently described as a scorching, excruciating sensation that starts in the lower chest and spreads to the lips. A sour taste in the mouth is another symptom that some heartburn sufferers mention. You may have observed that some foods might cause heartburn or make it worse if you frequently encounter it.

Foods that may cause heartburn are listed in this article. It also looks at techniques for lessening heartburn discomfort.

Heartburn: What is it?

The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive ailment that can affect up to 27.8% of adults in the United States, is heartburn. GERD develops when stomach contents flow back into the oesophagus, resulting in symptoms like:

  • Heartburn
  • Burping
  • Chest pain
  • A sour taste in the mouth from regurgitation

The lower esophageal sphincter, a valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach, prevents stomach acid from entering the oesophagus normally (LES). The only time this ring-shaped muscle opens is typically when you swallow or burp. One potential cause of GERD is the LES’s impairment and relaxation. The chance of getting GERD may also be influenced by other variables.

  • Delayed stomach emptying
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Obesity
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Being pregnant
  • Having a musculoskeletal disorder
  • Taking certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, NSAIDs, or antidepressants

Heartburn is one symptom of GERD that must be managed during treatment. Despite the fact that people also utilise other therapies, such as medications, lifestyle changes are thought to be the most crucial component of GERD treatment. At this time, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) does not advise people with GERD to cut out any specific foods from their diet. However, many medical specialists do advise against ingesting a number of foods if you have GERD or heartburn symptoms. 

You might find that eliminating some foods helps manage your heartburn symptoms. Here are nine foods that may cause heartburn.

  • High Fat Food

Heartburn may be brought on by fatty foods, particularly greasy dishes like fries and pizza.

High-fat foods may worsen heartburn by inducing your body to release chemicals that irritate your oesophagus. Researchers are still figuring out how fat may cause GERD symptoms. These include the bile salts found in the stomach and the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which can relax the LES and cause acid reflux. 

  • MINT

Many people believe that mint species like peppermint and spearmint might relieve stomach issues. However, there is some proof that some mint varieties could contribute to heartburn. According to studies, peppermint lowers LES pressure and might cause. Although mint may cause GERD symptoms, it only seems to be a problem for a tiny percentage of those who have the condition.

You might want to cut out mint products from your diet if you have heartburn after drinking them to see if that relieves your symptoms.

  • Citrus Juices

Citrus juices may cause heartburn symptoms when consumed. Orange and grapefruit juices are frequently blamed by consumers for GERD symptoms, including heartburn. However, many GERD sufferers steer clear of them in an effort to lessen heartburn symptoms.

  • Chocolate

Another major cause of heartburn is chocolate. Cacao and caffeine, two components of chocolate, can loosen the LES and increase the amount of acid reaching the oesophagus. Many people have heartburn symptoms after eating chocolate, and studies have shown that chocolate can lower LES pressure. But it’s not obvious if cutting out chocolate from the diet reduces heartburn symptoms. Try eliminating chocolate from your diet if you discover that it causes heartburn or makes your symptoms worsen.

  • Spicy Foods

Heartburn frequently results from eating spicy meals. In one trial that included participants with GERD, chili capsules, on the other hand,  were found to promote gastric accommodation, which is when the top region of the stomach relaxes in response to eating a meal. According to research, individuals with GERD frequently have an improved stomach accommodation reflex. This is related to a greater relaxation of the LES, which may produce heartburn.

According to the same study, people with GERD who took chilli capsules experienced more intense abdominal burning and heartburn than those who took a placebo. Another study including 4,633 Iranian individuals discovered that men who consume more spicy food have a higher chance of developing heartburn than women do.

Additionally, eating spicy food may aggravate an already inflamed oesophagus, which could make heartburn symptoms worse. Consider cutting out spicy foods from your diet if you suspect they’re the source of your heartburn.

  • Onions

Heartburn is frequently brought on by onions, especially when they are raw. Onions, like the other foods on this list, often give GERD sufferers heartburn sensations. Onions may worsen or cause heartburn, although it’s unknown how.

In one 1990s study, individuals with heartburn consumed a plain hamburger on one day and an identical hamburger with onions on the following day. Compared to the no-onion burger, consuming the onion burger considerably increased heartburn symptoms. Future research is required to decide if onions should be avoided or consumed in moderation by all people who experience heartburn.

Onions are also a rich source of FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), a group of nondigestible small carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems in some people. People who are sensitive to FODMAPs may experience heartburn from these 

  • Coffee and caffeinated beverages

Some people may get heartburn from coffee and other caffeinated drinks. This is due to caffeine’s ability to loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, which raises the possibility of acid reflux and heartburn. Additionally, coffee may increase the production of stomach acid, which could make heartburn worse. Although some people may experience heartburn after drinking coffee, not all studies have found a connection between the two.

One study with 1,837 participants, 25% of whom had GERD, failed to discover a connection between coffee drinking and GERD symptoms. There is no reason to forgo coffee if you tolerate it, despite the fact that the research is yet preliminary. On the other hand, it’s best to avoid coffee if it causes reflux and heartburn.

  • Sodas and Carbonated Beverages

Many people have heartburn after consuming sodas and other carbonated drinks. According to research, these beverages may loosen the esophageal sphincter and make stomach acid more acidic, both of which are risk factors for heartburn. In fact, nocturnal heartburn, often known as nighttime heartburn, is thought to be largely caused by soft drink consumption. Soft drink consumption and increased GERD symptoms have been linked in several studies.

For instance, a previous study discovered that carbonated beverage consumers had a 69% increased risk of experiencing reflux symptoms, including heartburn. It’s recommended to reduce your intake or stop drinking carbonated beverages altogether if you get heartburn after drinking soda or other carbonated beverages.


A burning sensation in your chest is known as heartburn. The area behind your breastbone is a possibility. A sour feeling in your mouth or throat is another possibility. When food or stomach acid enters the oesophagus, heartburn results. After eating, heartburn symptoms appear, and they get worse when you lie down. Most often, the symptoms are minor and treatable at home. You should exercise caution if your routine is affected by persistent heartburn. It could result in related symptoms. For instance, you could have chest pain, difficulty breathing, or swallowing. It might indicate some underlying diseases. You must immediately seek medical attention.

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