15 Foods to Avoid if you have Heartburn

I have heartburn, medically referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or dyspepsia. Let me share with you the 15 foods that stimulate heartburn…all of which I like!  So, unfortunately all the good things to eat increase heartburn, but by trying to minimize some of these foods, you can reduce your severity or incidence of GERD.

Bob McCullen, MD, Myers Health Cabinet Member
  1. Fried Foods -These oily foods stay in the stomach longer and more acid due to the oils, & increase reflux
  2. Alcohol – relaxes the esophageal sphincter & increase reflux, especially beer & red wine. Try to minimize size of meals if you enjoy a drink with your meals to decrease risk of heartburn.
  3. Spicy foods – increase acid levels in stomach & therefore dyspepsia.
  4. Tomatoes – due to very high acid content of tomatoes, including ketchup & salsa, etc.
  5. Oranges – again same as tomatoes…very high in citric acid. Try alkaline fruits such as berries, apples, pears, bananas, & melons.
  6. Mint – often used to settle the stomach it also relaxes the sphincter & hence increases heartburn. Try ginger tea especially before bedtime if you suffer from heartburn.
  1. Beef – again it is the fatty content of the beef that increase time in stomach & acid to digest & therefore increased heartburn. Leaner cuts are better if you have GERD.
  2. Coffee – high in acid & relaxes the sphincter…double whammy.
  3. Cheese – high in acid & fats. Consider lower fat cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta, & any other low fat cheeses. Cheese sauces can be particularly bad, as they typically also include lots of heavy cream & butter.
  4. Soda – not only are sodas high in acid but the carbonation forces acid up through the sphincter to irritate the esophagus.
  5. Chocolate – high in fat, caffeine which relaxes the sphincter & is slow to digest.
  6. Garlic & Onions – triggers heartburn for many people. If you notice the association, consider other spices to flavor your food.
  7. Salt & pepper – many people don’t consider these spices but they are & create increased acid in stomach. (see number 3 above).
  8. Butter – again high fat increases GERD.
  9. Candy – high simple sugar content is highly associated with GERD, especially if is with a sour candy with lots of vitamin C or citric acid.