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Worst Foods to Avoid for Acid Reflux

By Kelly Taylor ; Updated August 14, 2017

Acid reflux and heartburn are common, with approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population experiencing them on a regular basis, reports Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology. Medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, acid reflux develops when the esophageal sphincter opens and involuntarily releases stomach contents back into the esophagus. This causes burning sensations and associated acid reflux symptoms. There are certain foods you should avoid to reduce or prevent acid reflux.

Acidic Foods

Certain acidic food sources can create acid reflux symptoms by causing the esophageal sphincter to relax and allow stomach contents to flow backwards into the esophagus. The esophagus guides the digestion process by transporting food from the mouth to the stomach. Certain foods that lead to acid reflux include citrus juices and fruits, ketchup, tomatoes and tomato sauces. However, acid reflux symptoms attributable to citrus fruit consumption varies from person to person. According to the University of Illinois, lemons, grapefruit and oranges contain high acid contents that frequently leads to acid reflux in some individuals.

Fatty Foods

Fried or fatty foods tend to decrease digestive functions, keeping food in your stomach longer. As a result, stomach pressure increases and exerts additional pressure on the weakened esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acids to regurgitate into the esophagus. High-fat, dairy and deep-fried foods can contribute to these symptoms as well.

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Caffeine and Alcohol

All types of coffee, both decaffeinated and regular, reduce pressure in the esophagus, which can aggravate acid reflux. Beer, wine and alcohol can also increase acid reflux. Alcoholic and carbonated beverages makes it easy for stomach acids to back flow into the esophagus by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter. Alcohol can also increase stomach acid production. The University of Illinois McKinley Health Center notes that chocolate contains caffeine and heavy concentrations of theobromine, an agent which allows gastric acids to enter the esophagus by relaxing the lower esophagus.

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