Heartburn; Foods That Can Cause Heartburn

hives on the tummy

See Why You Have Heartburn After Eating That Food

Heartburn is a common mild health condition that can affect anybody. The best definition for heartburn is a painful burning feeling that occurs in the chest. Sometimes it could be in the lower part of the chest, and in other cases, it could take over the whole chest region.

It comes up as a result of what is known as acid reflux, a condition whereby acids from the stomach come back up into the esophagus through previous foods.

Normally, there is a barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. This barrier is elastic in nature and only opens up when food is going into the stomach. Acid reflux occurs when this elastic barrier loses its elasticity and foods return back to the esophagus after being eaten. -When the acid moves from the stomach to the esophagus, heartburn happens.

A number of factors trigger heartburn, of which food is part. Most foods have the ability to reduce the elasticity of the barrier between your esophagus and stomach. The following are foods that could trigger heartburn for you;

Fatty Foods

Some fats are not healthy. Also, some healthy fats are not to be consumed in large quantities. When these foods are consumed in large quantities, they could lead to heartburn. Unfortunately, some of these fatty foods include the very nutritious avocado, nuts, and cheese.

The two ways in which fatty foods can trigger heartburn include;

The relaxing of the barrier muscle, known as the esophageal sphincter. When this occurs, acids from the stomach begin to escape to the esophagus, leading to heartburn.

In addition, foods with high-fat contents encourage the release of the cholecystokinin hormone, which is a hormone that can also reduce the elasticity of the barrier muscle and lead to acid reflux.

The cholecystokinin asides, this helps food stay quite long in the stomach in order for the food to get digested easily. Thus, when the food stays longer in the stomach, as usual, the tendencies of having acid reflux becomes higher.

This effect of fatty foods is not only associated with healthy and nutritious foods. It is also associated with fried foods and foods that contain unhealthy cholesterol.


Mints are so far the best digestive condition soothers. However, despite these health benefits, mints are also found to be a possible trigger of heartburn. Some types of mints are; spearmint and peppermint. Some research found that certain kinds of mints are associated with the symptoms of heartburn and could even be triggered themselves.

Although, the process through which it triggers heartburn is different from fatty foods. Instead of weakening the elastic barrier that rests in-between the stomach and the esophagus, it irritates the lining of the esophagus due to its peppery and minty nature.

Studies found that people who consumed peppermint regularly have more cases of heartburn compared to those who do not consume it. Thus, if you notice any heartburn symptoms after taking mints, try to avoid them because mind could be the trigger of your heartburn.

Citrus Juices

Some studies have found that citrus juices may trigger heartburn conditions or even worsen symptoms. A survey on 300 people showed that 60% of the participants of the survey who consumed citrus juice had heartburn cases. While in 400 people, the cases rose to 70%. When research was carried out to know why the number increases this much, it was discovered that the acid in citrus juices is capable of this condition. This acid can be said to be responsible for causing heartburn. In this case, acid does not escape from the stomach into the esophagus. It is the acid from the citrus juice that irritates the esophagus lining, thereby causing heartburn.


According to research, chocolates can also be a heartburn trigger. Just like the effects fatty foods have on the elastic barrier, chocolates also relax this muscle, causing an easy return of acids from the stomach to the esophagus and cause heartburn in the process.

In addition to this, cocoa is the major ingredient of every chocolate. It also has this esophageal sphincter relaxing effects as well. Lastly, caffeine and theobromine are also major make-ups of chocolate. They also have a relaxing muscle effect.

Spicy Foods

mealSpicy foods are the number one and popularly known trigger of heartburn. Peppers in spicy foods contain capsaicin, which is a compound that slows down digestion rate. In other words, it means that foods will take longer to digest. Thus, the longer it takes, the higher the tendency of heartburn.

Also, when the esophagus is inflamed, spicy foods irritate it the more, thus leading to severe pains and burning sensations in the heart. In most cases, spicy foods also worsen the symptoms of heartburn.

As much as you like spicy foods, it is best to reduce the rate at which you consume them in order to prevent heartburn.


Salt itself and salty foods can also be acid reflux triggers. For example, several studies discovered that people who consumed excess table salt had a 60% risk of developing acid reflux compared to people who do not. In addition, further studies found that people who eat salty foods at least 4 times a week have higher tendencies of developing heartburn, with about 50%.

It is possible that salty food consumers also consume fatty and peppery foods. A combination of all of these in an excessive amount can lead trigger heartburn or worsen its symptoms, compared to people who only consume salty foods.


Raw onion has proven itself to be one of the triggers of heartburn. Onions sometimes irritate an already inflamed esophagus. However, in most cases, it relaxes the elasticity of the barrier in-between the stomach and the esophagus, which may lead to acid reflux or worsen its symptoms.

The research was carried out on people who ate an onion-less hamburger and those who ate hamburgers that have raw onions in them. The studies found that those who ate hamburgers with raw onions experienced heartburn symptoms.

Also, onions have been discovered to contain a fermentable kind of fiber, which is responsible for belching, and belching, on the other hand, can worsen acid reflux symptoms.


Excessive consumption at some point would begin to trigger heartburn. Sometimes, moderate consumption of alcohol could do the same as well. Just like the previously mentioned foods, alcohol can lower the elasticity of the barrier muscle between the stomach and esophagus. Thereby causing acid to return to the esophagus from the stomach.

In addition, beverages that contain alcohol can also increase your risk of heartburn. Excessive intake of alcohol can likely lead to tons of irritating the esophagus and may even damage its lining, thus making the esophagus tender and sensitive to every reaction from the stomach, especially from acids.


The trigger of heartburn in some people can be coffee. Coffee contains properties that are capable of tampering with the esophageal sphincter, which can cause acid reflux and worsen heartburn conditions. Some researchers suspect caffeine to be the cause. However, on the other hand, other researchers think it may be other coffee ingredients that are the culprit of heartburn and no caffeine. However, after all the claims and researches, more studies have been able to associate acid reflux with caffeine.

The bottom line is if you take coffee and it triggers any symptom of heartburn for you, shun it as much as you can.

Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks are known to increase the acidity in the stomach and also reduce the elasticity of the esophageal sphincter, which are two major risk factors of heartburn. Carbonated drinks are mostly associated with nighttime heartburn. 25% of every 10,000 people, according to research, experience nighttime heartburn that disturbs their sleep and reduces the quality of their sleep simultaneously.

In addition, the research found that people who consume carbonated drinks excessively have about a 60% tendency of developing heartburn.


milkMost people drink milk to reduce the effect of heartburn. Meanwhile, whole milk causes heartburn symptoms. In some researches, whole milk is said to increase acid production in the belly, thus increasing acid reflux risk. Of 400 people who were diagnosed with heartburn, 30% of them are committed to whole milk drinkers.

The connection between whole milk and heartburn is its fat content. The best thing you need to do when you notice symptoms of heartburn after drinking milk is to avoid drinking it.

In conclusion, heartburn is caused by a variety of factors, some of which are food factors and have been discussed explicitly in the article.