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Foods to Stay Away From With a Bad Esophagus

By Kathryn Meininger

If you experience frequent episodes of heartburn, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease. With GERD, the contents of your stomach and small intestine can back up into your esophagus, causing irritation and symptoms of indigestion and heartburn. Over time, the constant reflux of your digestive juices, including bile, pepsin and acids, into your esophagus can damage it and cause ulcers to form in the lining at its lower end. Certain foods appear to make this condition worse. If you suffer from GERD and have problems with your esophagus, consult your doctor about which foods to avoid.

Beverages Containing Caffeine

You may have to give up your morning cup of coffee if you have problems with your esophagus. If you have heartburn resulting from refluxing and regurgitating your stomach contents, avoid drinking any beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea. This includes decaffeinated coffee and tea, as well. Caffeine stimulates the secretion of stomach acid, which can reflux and exacerbate the symptoms affecting your esophagus.

Carbonated Beverages

If you suffer from esophageal problems, your doctor may recommend that you stop drinking carbonated beverages. Carbonated cola beverages containing caffeine present a double whammy, as they are carbonated and also contain caffeine. According to a 2010 study published in "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics," carbonated beverages appear to transiently decrease the pressure at the lower end of your esophagus. This may allow food to reflux from your stomach and cause irritation, but carbonated beverages themselves don't appear to cause damage to the esophagus.

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Acidic Foods

Foods that are highly acidic may also cause a problem if your esophagus is irritated or damaged from GERD. Acidic foods, such as tomato juice and sauces, orange juice, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice, can stimulate the production of stomach acids and worsen the irritation to your esophagus.

Foods That Relax The Lower Esophageal Sphincter

You may also be advised to avoid foods that affect the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, a muscle that must remain closed to prevent reflux from occurring. Foods that decrease the pressure of the LES and allow back-flow of stomach contents into your esophagus include chocolate and alcoholic beverages, along with foods, beverages and gum containing mints, such as peppermint and spearmint. According to McKinley Health Center, fatty foods, to include whole fat dairy products, fried foods and cream soups, appear to decrease pressure of the LES along with delaying the emptying of your stomach contents during digestion, which may increase your risk of reflux into your esophagus.

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