When you think about the causes of heartburn, what immediately comes to mind? Hot, spicy food and fried, fatty food, right? You’re extra careful avoiding those foods like it’s poison to avoid getting heartburn. Well, ever thought that burning sensation you actually feel could be from what you’re drinking?
That’s right. It’s pretty funny, people are so cautious with what they eat, but never give what they’re drinking a second thought. If you never thought about it, let us be the first to tell you that coffee, alcohol, acidic juices, and other caffeinated beverages can play a role in heartburn. You see, there’s a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) located between the stomach and the esophagus. It’s supposed to close except when food is passing into the esophagus.
The problem is, when you drink alcohol, the sphincter muscle relaxes, creating an opening and allowing stomach acid to come back up into the esophagus. That’s called acid reflux — the burning sensation you feel. It’s also pretty much the same thing when you drink caffeine. Plus, with caffeinated sodas, like colas, acid increases in your stomach coupled with bloating, which leads to heartburn.
Of course, not everyone gets acid reflux after drinking alcohol or caffeine. Some people are predisposed or may have a weak sphincter muscle to begin with. Other factors, like being overweight, also increase your chances for heartburn.
It’s also been recommended to avoid acidic and citrus juices, like orange and tomato juice. In fact, milkshakes and whole milk, which aren’t acidic at all, have been known to give people heartburn. That’s because fat can exacerbate heartburn by staying in the stomach longer. The more fat you drink, the fuller your stomach is, increasing your chances for reflux.
What can you drink?
We’ve covered what you shouldn’t drink, now here are drink recommendations to prevent heartburn. For starters, noncarbonated and decaf beverages, herbal teas, skim milk and apple juice. Lastly, water is extremely important and beneficial because it helps minimize stomach acid.
Other than spearmint or peppermint, herbal teas are great for acid reflux because they improve digestion and help soothe stomach issues, like gas and nausea. Some people suggest chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow herbal teas to soothe GERD symptoms. Licorice, in particular, has been proven effective against GERD by increasing the mucus coating of the esophageal lining, helping calm the effects of stomach acid.
Goat’s Milk or Skim Milk
Regular cow’s milk has a considerable amount of fat, so it’s hard to digest, which may worsen reflux. Skim milk or goat’s milk, both lower in fat, are better choices.
You should still keep an eye on what you eat when it comes to heartburn. However, while you’re doing that, you might also what to rethink what you drink because what’s in your glass could effect what’s in your stomach. If you have chronic acid reflux, come speak to Dr. Darido at Houston Heartburn.