Ho Ho Heartburn
If you’re not sure what to watch out for, holiday feasts can quickly serve up an uncomfortable side of heartburn. Know what foods to eat in moderation and which ones to avoid entirely if you struggle with heartburn.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a form of indigestion caused by acid regurgitation coming back up into the esophagus. People who suffer from heartburn know the feeling as a burning sensation in the chest or just beneath the sternum.
Which holiday foods should I avoid?
To decrease the likelihood of getting heartburn, try to avoid overloading your plate with the following foods.
Fried and fatty foods. These foods are difficult to digest and stay in your stomach for a longer time, causing bloating and heartburn. Instead of frying your turkey, keep it traditionally roasted.
Peppermint. Mints can help relax your muscles and ease cramps, but this means it can also relax the muscle that prevents acid from coming back up your esophagus. Cut down on the candy canes and peppermint bark if you have trouble with heartburn.
Chocolate. This sweet treat contains properties that allow the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to stay open longer than normal, which can lead to acid regurgitation into the esophagus.
Acidic fruits and juices. Citrus fruits contain plenty of acid, which only adds to the acid that can cause that burning sensation. Especially avoid canned products as the canning process often increases acidity. Go easy on the cranberry sauce!
Alcohol. Like chocolate and fatty foods, alcohol relaxes the LES. It can also increase acid production in the stomach and inflame the stomach lining, increasing the likelihood of heartburn. Ease up on the eggnog and champagne.
Caffeinated beverages. Drinks like coffee and soda can irritate the stomach lining and relax the LES, creating a duo of heartburn troubles. Avoid the cocoa if you can!
How can I treat heartburn?
Take chewy, chalky antacids to treat heartburn that’s already happening or take a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) ahead of time if you’re anticipating heartburn after your meal. Talk to your doctor to find out the underlying cause of your heartburn and ways you can prevent it. Consider lifestyle changes and manage any health conditions that could be contributing to your heartburn.
Consult your primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group if you have heartburn that is frequent or intense. When planning your holiday menu, look for healthier alternatives; ask your physician or nutritionist for advice based on your needs. All of us at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!