We all know the feeling a burning sensation in your chest and throat and a slightly bitter taste in your mouth. You probably know that spicy foods trigger that burning feeling, and maybe you even know that fatty foods could be the culprit. But other than that, most people are completely clueless about heartburn.So when you say you "have heartburn," what you really have is acid reflux. Heartburn is just one symptom. Other symptoms include: a sore throat, a dry cough, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitating food or a sour liquid. When you have acid reflux all the time, doctors call it GERD, and that's when it becomes an actual disease that needs treatment. If you're having heartburn multiple times a week or if your heartburn is so bad it messes with your quality of life.
Your morning cup of coffee
There are two main causes of acid reflux: an underlying medical problem like a hiatal hernia, which happens when the upper part of your stomach pushes up into your chest cavity, or a trigger that relaxes the sphincter muscle in your esophagus that normally blocks stomach acid from rising back up your throat. Certain foods and behaviors can relax the muscle.Caffeinated foods and drinks like coffee, tea, and even chocolate are biggies.
Your gum habit
If you're a fan of peppermint gum, you might want to stop chewing (or switch to a different flavor). Like caffeine, peppermint also relaxes the sphincter muscle that keeps your stomach acid at bay. So anything you eat or drink that contains peppermint oil, teas, candies, and desserts could be the culprit. Keeping a food diary is a good way to identify triggers.
Your late night munchies
Sometimes, it's perfectly fine to eat at night (and the right snacks can even help you lose weight). But it might be best to steer clear if you're prone to heartburn. Patients with acid reflux should avoid eating at least two hours before bed. "As soon as you lay down, gravity makes things worse. When you're flat on your back, or side, or stomach it makes a lot easier for acid to wash back up your esophagus. And if you eat before bed, and kick-start digestion, you'll have even more acid in your stomach.
You know that moment about 20 minutes after you scarf down dinner. As soon as you start eating, your body revs up digestion and starts producing stomach acid. The more food you put in, the longer it takes to move that food, and the acid, to your intestines.