The lower esophageal sphincter is a valve at the beginning of the stomach which remains closed. The only time this valve opens is, to swallow food or liquids. When this valve remains open otherwise, the food and the acids in the stomach come up to the esophagus. This is called acid reflux. When this food comes up, there is a burning pain in the throat and in the chest. Hence, it is also known as heartburn. If this condition occurs for more than twice a week, this becomes a disease, which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD).
Causes & Symptoms
There are several things that act as the triggers for this condition. Some of the common causes are:
- Certain medications
- Spicy food
- Foods like garlic and onions
- Huge amount of food
- Carbonated and caffeine-rich drinks
- Laying down after a meal
The common symptoms of are:
- Chest pain
- Sore throat
- Wheezing cough
- Weight loss
In worst cases, people may experience asthma and dental erosion. If any of the above symptoms persist for a long period of time, then consult a doctor. If these symptoms are not cured in time, further complications may arise.
Foods that Trigger Acid Reflux
Food items that are acidic in nature act as triggers. Vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, pineapples, and grapefruits are all acidic in nature. If consumed in large quantities they trigger acid reflux.
Hot and spicy food which is rich in peppers and chillies cause burning in the stomach and in the chest. Fast food irritates the stomach and triggers heart burn. Excessive consumption of onions and garlic may also cause this condition in some people.
Alcohol dehydrates the body and increases the gastric levels in the body which leads to acidity. This problem is more common in people who are allergic to alcohol.
Carbonated drinks are aerated. This aeration increases the pressure level in the stomach which leads to an increase in the acid level in the stomach.
Coffee contains a high amount of caffeine which increases the secretion of acid in the stomach. Hence, those who drink a high amount of coffee face the problems of acid reflux. If a person must drink coffee, then it is better to switch to decaf to avoid triggering this condition.
It is a very difficult task for our stomach to digest meat. Meat like beef and pork create more acids than fish, chicken, and turkey. Since they act as a trigger, it is necessary to cut down on their consumption.
Most people have the habit of drinking a glass of milk just before they go to bed. This increases the acid production in the stomach. The acid secretion is faster and higher when the stomach is already full. In order to avoid excessive acid secretion in the stomach, it is necessary to cut down on the dairy consumption, especially on a full stomach.
Baked foods from the market contain a lot of preservatives and artificial colors. These preservatives increase the acidity in the stomach. This is also true with all the other processed foods.
This category consists of vinegar, processed food, and chocolate. When consumed in excessive amounts, they trigger this condition.
- Small, frequent, and less spicy meals will help in better digestion of food and reduce the symptoms of this condition.
- Avoid foods that are mentioned in the above list and are high in fat. This will definitely help to control acidity.
- Avoid sleeping immediately after the meals, this will help curb reflux symptoms.
- Aloe vera, ginger, and certain fruits and vegetables are some of the natural cures for acid reflux.
- In some cases stress and tension may also lead to this condition. Therefore, maintaining healthy eating habits will reduce acidity.
As one can see, there are various foods that cause this condition. But, it is easier to get rid of these triggers, once they are identified, i.e., once the person is sure what triggers it in him/her. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor in time, if the symptoms persist so that there are no complications later on.