Heartburn is that all-too-uncomfortable sensation of your stomach acid rising into your esophagus. What generally happens is that the small band at the base of your esophagus (it’s called the lower esophageal sphincter) opens to allow food and drink to flow into your stomach, but if it becomes weakened or unexpectedly relaxed, the gastric juice can end up flowing back up into your throat. Lovely, we know. Since the purpose of gastric acid is to break down and digest food, this is not a pleasant experience for the more delicate tissue lining your esophagus, which is not designed to deal with this level of acidity.
Well, this is a major bummer—especially if you’re a serial coffee drinker. Caffeine can “loosen the sphincter at the distal esophagus and worsen heartburn,” explains Peyton Berookim, MD, FACG, a double board-certified gastroenterologist. In other words, it makes it easier for acid to come up and cause discomfort.
“Although they are healthy in general, these vegetables can trigger symptoms in certain people,” says Josh Axe DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com and author of Keto Diet. This is especially true when they are eaten in large amounts, he explains.
Alcohol, alas, is another heartburn trigger. “It increases the production of stomach acid and makes your esophagus more sensitive to stomach acid,” says Danine Fruge, medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center. “Drinking alcohol can also lead to making less healthy food choices and eating foods you know can trigger your heartburn.”