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What is acid reflux?
“Acid reflux, also called GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disorder, occurs when acids from your stomach that are used to digest food, travel up toward your mouth through your esophagus,” explains celebrity chef, nutritionist, and reiki master Serena Poon. “When you eat, the valve at the end of your esophagus usually closes, but sometimes it relaxes when it is not supposed to (sometimes caused by things like delayed digestion or increased stomach pressure), allowing the acid from your stomach to flow in the other direction.”
Like so many health-related quandaries, acid reflux isn’t solely caused by one thing. Instead, NYC-based dietitian Jennifer Maeng says that it can be triggered or exacerbated by smoking, pregnancy, stress, anxiety, medication, and being overweight, not to mention a number of foods and drinks.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
No matter the cause of your acid reflux, the symptoms tend to remain the same.
“Acid reflux often causes heartburn, or a burning sensation in your chest, coughing, a feeling of a blocked or scratchy throat, or regurgitation,” says Poon, the founder of Just Add Water and creator of Culinary Alchemy.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever felt any of these symptoms, know that you’re not alone. Recent data shows that about one-third of the population experiences heartburn each and every week. The good news? According to Poon, acid reflux (and its symptoms) can usually be resolved with minor dietary shifts. With that in mind, ahead you’ll find a list of which acid reflux foods to avoid in order to help nix acid reflux from your daily life.
Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid
1. Fried and Fatty Foods
Tasty as they may be, Poon says that “fried and fatty foods are thought to make acid reflux worse, partially because they take longer to digest, thus increasing the likelihood of reflux.”
2. Highly Acidic Produce
Think: tomatoes and citrus fruits. “These foods can make your stomach produce more acid, which might lead to reflux,” Poon says. With this in mind, if you regularly experience acid reflux, you may want to cut back not only on fresh tomatoes and fruits, but pizza, pomodoro spaghetti, greyhounds, and any other popular dishes made with the culprits.
Again, we know they’re delicious, but according to Poon, onions are notorious for causing GERD. That said, raw onions are more triggering than cooked onions, so if you’re far too in love with the veggie to scrap it from your diet, try to opt for grilled, roasted, sauteed, and caramelized onion offerings where you can.
Remember the common scenario we mentioned in the intro? The common feeling of something being off post-drinking? “There is a clear connection between alcohol consumption and the occurence of acid reflux, likely due to damage to the esophagus by alcohol and its byproducts,” Poon says. As such, if you’re prone to heartburn during or after a night of drinking, it’s worthwhile to cut back. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to, there’s always the option to reach in your bag for a couple of TUMS Extra Strength Antacid Tablets ($14) (my best friend taught me this trick a few years ago and recently reminded me of it during our first time in NashVegas—ahem, Nashville—and let me tell you: It works).
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