5 Foods that Cause Heartburn

No one wants to give up their favorite foods, but when those foods are causing heartburn, it might be time to rethink your diet.

Thankfully, most of the time a mere reduction in your consumption of “trigger foods” will do the trick, which means you won’t have to say goodbye to them for good. These five foods don’t affect everyone in the same way, but they are the most common causes of heartburn. If one or more of them is a staple in your everyday diet, they may be what’s causing you grief.

1. Chocolate

We normally think of chocolate as a feel-good food, but it can be torture if you suffer from heartburn. Research has found that when you eat chocolate, your brain increases its production of serotonin, the chemical responsible for those good feelings. However, it’s now believed that this increase in serotonin relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to travel up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

2. Fast Food

Burger, fries, onion rings—it doesn’t really matter. When it comes to fast food, chances are it’s full of fat. Unfortunately, high-fat foods are some of the worst offenders when it comes to heartburn. This greasy grub digests slowly and requires your stomach to produce more acid to get the job done. This extra stomach acid has the potential to leak back into your stomach, especially because fatty foods also relax your esophageal sphincter.

3. Fruit Juice

The high acidity in fruit juice can loosen the esophageal sphincter in some people and cause heartburn. This is especially true since juice is typically drunk at breakfast, when the stomach is empty—which can exacerbate its effects.

4. Alcohol

While a glass of wine here and there probably won’t aggravate your heartburn, regular drinking, especially when combined with other heartburn-causing foods, can spell trouble. Like the other items on this list, alcohol has the potential to relax your esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to move upward.

5. Pizza

Pizza is the perfect storm when it comes to heartburn. The high acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce, combined with spiced meats like pepperoni can make for a painful meal for heartburn sufferers. If you can’t bear to part with your favorite Italian dish, consider making them with less sauce and meat-free.