Must people ask “What foods cause heartburn in pregnancy?” Some foods are known to trigger heartburn however, heartburn is a general discomfort experienced by every human including pregnant women. It is a common condition characterised by a burning sensation in the chest, which is caused by stomach acid refluxing back into the oesophagus. In recent research by NCBI Gov, Heartburn is one of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms in pregnant women, with an alarming rate of about 17% to 45%, affecting approximately 50% of pregnant women. Certain foods can make worse the condition of heartburn in pregnant women and make them feel more uncomfortable.
In this article, therefore, I will outline 10 Little-Known foods that cause heartburn in pregnant women, 4 food that do not cause heartburn while pregnancy and 8 natural remedies if you experience heartburn.
If you have been seeking answers to the question, What foods cause heartburn in pregnancy, this article will be your last.
Does this sound like what you have been looking for, then, let’s get into it immediately.
What foods cause heartburn in Pregnancy
While there are so many foods considered heartburn-causing foods in pregnant women, we will explore just 10 little-known ones:
Oranges which are a delicious and highly nutritious fruit are known for their high Vitamin C content and numerous health benefits. However, for some individuals, particularly pregnant women, consuming orange or orange juice can lead to discomfort in the form of heartburn. Due to their high acidic content, oranges when consumed, increase the production of stomach acid and cause irritation in the oesophagus, thereby triggering heartburn.
Coffee is another common trigger for heartburn in pregnant women. The caffeine and other compounds in coffee can relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), which is a muscle that separates the stomach from the oesophagus. When the LES relaxes, it allows stomach acid to flow back up into the oesophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. To reduce the risk of experiencing heartburn from coffee, it is recommended to limit coffee consumption to 2 – 5 cups per day or better still, avoid coffee intake, especially on an empty stomach.
The cocoa powder in chocolate is acidic and is likely to increase heartburn symptoms in pregnant women. Cocoa can cause the intestinal cells that relax the esophageal sphincter to release a surge of serotonin. When this muscle relaxes, gastric contents can rise. This causes a burning sensation in the oesophagus.
Alcohol produces more stomach acid and makes the oesophagus more sensitive to this acid too, hence, increasing the chances of getting heartburn. Asides from alcohol are known to be a trigger of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it is also a diuretic, meaning it causes you to urinate more frequently. This can lead to dehydration which makes heartburn worse.
5. Fried or Fatty Foods
Foods that are high in fat such as fried foods take a longer time to digest and consequently, put pressure on the stomach and oesophagus. Fried, greasy and fatty foods cause heartburn and lead to reflux because they prevent the lower oesophagal sphincter from fully tightening and this creates an opening for stomach acids to flow upward. With your stomach staying full for longer, the risk of heartburn is higher.
6. Mint and Peppermint
Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the oesophagus. (The sphincter is the muscle that separates the oesophagus from the stomach). Although peppermint may soothe an upset stomach, it can also trigger and make heartburn worse.
7. Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic contain fructans, which are soluble fibres that may cause bloating. They stimulate gastric acid due to the way they extend the amount of time food sits in the stomach, thereby, leading to heartburn and belching.
8. Spicy Foods
Several spicy foods contain capsaicin which slows down digestion and causes food to sit in the stomach longer. The longer food stays in the stomach, the higher the risk of you having heartburn. Also, spicy foods irritate the oesophagus, which can intensify heartburn symptoms.
9. Tomatoes/Tomato-based products
Tomatoes and tomato-based products are embedded with malic and citric, both of which can make the stomach produce excess gastric acid. Although tomatoes may be great for heart health, their high acid triggers heartburn greatly. To avoid the risk of heartburn, it is best to avoid fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, ketchup and other tomato-based products.
10. Carbonated drinks
The carbonation in soft drinks causes the acid from the stomach to bubble up into the throat, creating an uncomfortable burning sensation. Carbonated beverages have unique properties that may potentially intensify heartburn such as high acidity and carbonation.
It is important for pregnant women to pay attention to their diet and avoid these trigger foods as much as possible to reduce the symptoms of heartburn.
Foods That won’t cause heartburn during pregnancy
Having gone through the food that causes heartburn in pregnancy, it will be very important also to make a list of foods that won’t cause heartburn during pregnancy.
Let’s explore them together:
Milk is an alkaline composition that helps to create a thin barrier which lines the stomach and decreases irritation. Ideally, skimmed or semi-skimmed glasses of milk are best as high-fat milk sources trigger heartburn and make it worse.
2. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas such as ginger, fennel and green tea are well-known home remedies for heartburn. Whilst there is little scientific evidence for herbal teas preventing heartburn, anecdotally pregnant women have experienced good results in decreasing symptoms. Therefore, herbal teas could be taken in between meals as a good source of hydration which may prevent or relieve symptoms of heartburn.
Like milk, yoghurt is known to decrease the irritation caused by heartburn. It is a probiotic and alkaline source which can help neutralize stomach acid. It is a good source of calcium and protein so it can help meet your nutritional requirements. Choosing a plain and lower-fat yoghurt is usually the best option for heartburn relief so try including yoghurt into a snack or use it as a savoury dip at a meal to help decrease the risk of heartburn.
4. Melons and Bananas
Melons and bananas have a lower acidic content than most fruits. These fruits are good options to ensure you get one of your five a day and meet your fibre requirements without triggering symptoms of heartburn. Both fruits could also be added to yoghurt as a snack, or added to your morning breakfast cereal or porridge.
Natural remedies for heartburn during pregnancy
Here are some natural remedies for heartburn during pregnancy:
- Eating meals in bits rather than in wholesome quantities
- Drinking water in between your meals
- Limiting foods which can potentially trigger heartburn
- Sitting upright when you eat
- Not lying down immediately after eating
- Avoiding late-night eating and snacking
- Keeping your head higher when sleeping to help prevent stomach acid from rising into your chest
- Completely avoiding alcohol and smoking which is generally advised anyway during pregnancy.
So far, I have tried to provide an expert answer to your question; What foods cause heartburn during pregnancy? Heartburn is a common symptom during pregnancy that affects many women. Certain foods can trigger or worsen heartburn, such as spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, chocolate, and fatty or fried foods. Avoiding these trigger foods and eating smaller, more frequent meals can help alleviate symptoms.
It is important for pregnant women to maintain a healthy diet and speak with their healthcare provider if they experience severe or persistent heartburn. With proper management, most women can successfully manage their heartburn symptoms during pregnancy and enjoy a healthy, comfortable pregnancy.
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