Heartburn: Foods To Avoid

Here are a few foods one should avoid if they experience frequent heartburn.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Heartburn is one of the common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a gastrointestinal disorder that is experienced by up to 27.8% of U.S. adults.

According to the doctors of Mayo Clinic, GERD develops when contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus and cause symptoms like:

  • Heartburn

  • Burps

  • Chest pain

  • Sour taste

It is not normal for the stomach acid to reach the esophagus since there is a barrier between the esophagus and stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

GERD can be caused due to impairment and relaxation of the LES.
GERD can be treated if you are able to tackle the symptoms of heartburn.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), people suffering from GERD should try to exclude a few foods from their diet. Here is a list of foods you can avoid.


Foods With High-Fat Content 

High-fat foods are greasy foods like fries and pizza, which can be the main cause of heartburn. Research is required to find a link between GERD and fat foods but it definitely does worsen the heartburn by stimulating your body to release substances that irritate your esophagus.

Bile salts are present in the stomach, and the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) in the bloodstream relaxes the LES and results in acid reflux. These are the result of consuming high-fat foods.

It has been proved that people have reported reduced heartburn symptoms after excluding these foods from their diet.

Citrus Fruit Juices 

According to United States National Institutes of Health ( US NIH), consumption of citrus juices also triggers heartburn symptoms. These juices may include orange and grapefruit juice, which have proved to worsen the symptoms of heartburn and GERD.

Therefore, people who are diagnosed with GERD and experience frequent heartburns must avoid these fruit drinks at all costs.


It is known rarely by people that chocolate is another common trigger for heartburn. It is due to the ingredients like cacao and caffeine in chocolates that relax the LES and the esophageal exposure to acid.

According to PubMed, people complain about heartburn symptoms after consuming chocolate. Studies prove that chocolate reduces the LES pressure and elimination of chocolate from the diet can improve symptoms of heartburn.

Spicy Foods 

Spicy foods are also known to aggravate the symptoms of heartburn though the exact link between spicy food and heartburn is not yet understood.

Research has proved that people suffering from GERD have an enhanced gastric accommodation reflex which is associated with an increased LES relaxation, which results in heartburn.


According to Healthline, spicy foods can result in severe burning sensations in the belly, and severe heartburn in people, compared with a placebo treatment. Moreover, spicy foods can irritate an inflamed esophagus that worsens the heartburn symptoms.


According to US NIH, alcohol contributes to heartburn and GERD symptoms. People consuming moderate to excessive alcohol experience worsening GERD symptoms and heartburn.

It can be because alcohol relaxes the LES, which allows stomach acid to escape into the esophagus and triggers heartburn.

Moreover, studies show that regular consumption of alcohol increases the risk of GERD as well.

A review of 29 studies showed that people who consumed alcohol more than five times or days per week were twice as likely to have GERD than people who didn’t consume or rarely consumed alcohol.

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