"Alcohol is noted to cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, where it opens up into the stomach,” Dr. Verma tells us. “This sphincter relaxation allows for backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus, thus triggering heartburn and reflux symptoms." Combine this with common heartburn culprit citrus, and you’ve got a recipe for acid reflux .
"Dairy fats, or any fatty foods for that matter, tend to sit around in the stomach for a longer time, thus causing more acid to be produced to help with digestion," Dr. Verma explains. "This excess stomach acid not only irritates the gastric lining, but causes the lower esophageal sphincter to be lax. This is how acid reflux occurs, causing heartburn, which can mimic chest pain. Scary."
Additionally, chocolate is a big trigger for many heartburn sufferers: it contains caffeine and theobromine, which are both stimulants thought to cause reflux. In a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, "chocolate has been shown to decrease mean basal lower esophageal sphincter pressure.”
"Peppermint is often used to settle an upset or queasy stomach. However, this can be a double-edged sword. The menthol in the mint causes a numbing and relaxing effect on the esophagus, which is responsible for heartburn," Dr. Verma says.
"Caffeine overall increases stomach acid production in addition to relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, so this is a double whammy: the forecast is a gloomy heartburn." Dr. Verma tells us. Coffee is especially bad due to its high acid content.
This is a triple-decker culprit: it’s alcoholic, acidic, and spicy — not the best brunch companion after all. According to an article published in the medical journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, capsaicin — the stuff that gives a bloody mary its spicy kick — is a serious cause of acid reflux.
Citrus fruits can often be the cause behind heartburn, and lemons — as with all citrus juices — are a known irritant and cause of heartburn in many people.
Soda is one of the biggest — and most unexpected — causes behind heartburn. Even calorie-free options like diet soda and seltzer water can be behind this one, but sodas with acid, which is an additional irritant, are twice as bad.
Health magazine found that Coke, Tab, and Diet Pepsi were the most acidic — if you suffer from heartburn, you may want to trade out your standard Cuba Libre for something with a little less bite.
Swedish researchers found that lots of salt can increase your chances of heartburn. Even if you don’t go for the salted rim, it’s likely that if you’re a heartburn sufferer, citric acid from the limes and a few shots of tequila might trigger an attack.
Like coffee, black tea can make heartburn symptoms even worse. If you regularly suffer from heartburn, try switching to a ginger tea — ginger has been shown to reduce heartburn symptoms.
Due to its very high acid content, grapefruit juice is especially bad for heartburn — and unfortunately, because alcohol can make symptoms worse, the same goes double for a greyhound.