Foods to Keep You Off the Purple Pill

There may be nothing worse than the burning sensation of heartburn after

a large heart engulfed in flames and bright orange yellow

Heartburn

eating a good meal or your favorite food. The pain in the upper chest and throat results from stomach acid backup, or acid reflux. Some people suffer from frequent acid reflux, called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Antacids and over-the-counter or prescription acid relievers can treat the problem. But simply readjusting your diet, and including foods you love, can relieve acid reflux and even eliminate heartburn.

An esophageal muscle normally contracts after food enters the stomach to keep stomach acid from rising back up into the esophagus. When the muscle relaxes and does not shut tightly, acid reflux and heartburn can occur. Certain foods relax the muscle to trigger heartburn. Large meals can slow down digestion to increase acid secretion in the stomach and encourage acid reflux. Try switching to frequent small meals throughout the day to make digestion easier.

Foods that trigger heartburn vary among people. Some culprits include chocolate, coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, citrus juices, tomato products and high-fat foods. You might tolerate these foods and have your own particular triggers. Avoiding trigger foods helps. But changing your eating habits and focusing on foods that don’t spark heartburn can become a part of your regular routine to reduce or avoid symptoms completely.

Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your meals as sides or in salads. Bananas may have a natural antacid effect to reduce heartburn. Papaya has been used as a home remedy for heartburn. Other fruits, such as peaches, pears, berries, melons and apples, digest rapidly to avoid the risk of acid reflux. However, avoid citrus fruit if you find its acidic nature causes heartburn. Most vegetables avoid heartburn, but stay away from fried or creamy style vegetables, according to the acid reflux diet recommended by Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology.

Whole grains have a gel-like quality during digestion to absorb stomach acids. Eat whole-grain bread, pasta and cereal. Whole grains also include oatmeal, oat bran, brown rice and baked potatoes. Dress your baked potato with plain yogurt or salsa instead of fatty butter or sour cream. Refined grains, such as white breads and white flour, may contain additives during processing that can encourage heartburn.

Use low-fat options whenever possible. That includes lean meats, chicken or

The physiology of heartburn with a picture of a healthy stomach and esophagus on the left and an inflamed stomach and esophagus on the right.

Changes That Cause Heartburn

turkey without skin, fish and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy foods also contain protein that may help strengthen the esophageal muscle. You can still enjoy sweets and desserts. Try sticking to low-fat or fat-free cookies or cakes, and nonfat candies such as licorice or jellybeans. Eat graham crackers, angel cake with fresh fruit slices and fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt.

When you stay on foods that prevent heartburn, it will become second nature and you might even begin tolerating the foods that once annoyed you.