North Houston Cancer Clinics

What is Heartburn

Dieting Do’s and Don’ts: How to Deal With Heartburn by Eating Wisely

Heartburn, a burning feeling in the chest, can ruin your day and make you uncomfortable. It is, therefore, fortunate that careful selection of meals can help relieve symptoms while improving digestion. By learning which foods to avoid and those that bring relief, you can make informed decisions about what you eat, thus effectively controlling heartburn.

How to Relieve Heartburn?

If you know how to manage it, heartburn becomes easy. Knowing the foods that trigger symptoms of heartburn and those that soothe them may save you from a lot of pain. Though triggers vary individually, there are some general dietary guidelines for relieving heartburn.

What Not To Eat To Prevent Heartburn?

Certain types of food are known for causing heartburns due to their acidity levels, fat content, or ability to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid into the esophagus. Avoiding such culprits can help reduce the frequency of heartburn episodes:

Foods high in fats: Fried food, fatty cuts of meat, creamy sauces, etc., all relax LES, making it easier for gastric juices to back up from there into one’s throat, thereby causing discomfort commonly referred to as “heartburn.”

Acidic foods: Like citrus fruits, juices, tomatoes, onions, and vinegar-based dressings, can irritate the esophagus lining because they contain acids that come into contact with this part when swallowed or regurgitated together with stomach contents.

Spicy foods: Such as chili peppers such as jalapenos/habaneros, and hot sauces, such as Tabasco sauce, have been associated with triggering bouts of severe chest pains, which many people describe as “heartburn.”

Caffeine/Alcohol: Chocolate drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc., contain substances called methylxanthines, which stimulate the secretion of more vital acids by our stomachs, leading to more frequent attacks of heartburn;

Carbonated beverages: Some soft drinks contain carbon dioxide gas bubbles that, when swallowed, cause pressure changes within the LES, allowing for easy reflux of acids back up from one’s belly into one’s food pipe, causing burning pain around the chest area.

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Some factors that can trigger or worsen heartburn include overeating, consuming acidic or spicy foods, and lying down immediately after eating. Chronic heartburn is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to complications such as respiratory problems and damage to the esophagus if left untreated.


Tips for Eating Right If You Have Heartburn:

  • Eat low-acid fruits like bananas, apples, and melons.
  • Including lean proteins in your daily meals, such as poultry, fish, tofu, etc., can help.
  • Choose wholegrain foods over refined grains, such as oats instead of cornflakes, brown rice, not white rice, etc.
  • Consuming vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc., is less likely to cause heartburn.
  • Drink plenty of water daily, se stomach acid, and aid digestion.



  • Avoid high-fat dishes like fried food, fatty meat, creamy sauces, etc., because they relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing acid to splash up into the throat again.
  • Stay away from citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, onions, and spicy foods—all these can make symptoms worse!
  • Limit caffeine intake or don’t have any if possible (this includes tea/coffee/chocolate). Also, avoid alcoholic fizzy drinks such as Coke, cola, etc., because these things produce more stomach acids, leading to more severe cases of heartburn.
  • Don’t eat large meals just before bed or snack at night; try having supper four hours before lying down, as this helps gravity keep acid where it belongs: in your tummy.
  • Reduce peppermint consumption/avoid eating chocolate altogether because it loosens & further irritates an already weak muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter, leading to more severe cases of heartburn.



Healthy eating patterns can greatly alleviate heartburn symptoms and improve overall digestive health. By following dietary do’s and don’ts, individuals can reduce acid reflux, promote healing of the esophagus, and enhance their quality of life. Weight management, mindful eating practices, and stress reduction are other ways to manage heartburn effectively in addition to dietary changes. It is essential to call for help from healthcare professionals who offer personalized recommendations based on specific needs, thus ensuring optimum gut wellness.

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