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Foods usually do not cause heartburn, but they can aggravate your condition and cause symptoms. Certain foods can cause symptoms by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows digestive juices to splash up into the esophagus, thus irritating the esophagus.

Everyone reacts to foods differently, so keep track of the foods you eat and your symptoms. Share this information with your doctor.

The foods that most commonly cause symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Acidic foods, such as:
    • Citrus foods: oranges, grapefruits, and their juices
    • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Fatty or greasy foods
  • Chocolates
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Some herbal products (eg, peppermint tea)

Be careful not to overeat and do not lie down right after eating. Both of these actions can cause heartburn symptoms. Give your body time to digest. Also, do not eat within 2-3 hours of going to sleep..

Other healthy lifestyle measures, such as losing weight if you are overweight and quitting smoking can help.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association

http://www.gastro.org/

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

http://www.aboutgerd.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Institute for Health Information

http://www.cihi.ca/

References:

Acid reflux. The American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://patients.gi.org/topics/acid-reflux/. Accessed July 11, 2012.

Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2006.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated June 12, 2012. Accessed July 11, 2012.

Heartburn. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(12):1452-1455. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1215/p1452.html. Accessed July 23, 2012.

Last reviewed July 2012 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.