Is spicy food to blame for my acid reflux?

Acid reflux can make you miserable.

Usually, it starts with an uncomfortable burning sensation, but sometimes that heartburn pain moves up into your throat and neck. When your stomach fluid hits the back of your throat you may sense a sour or bitter taste. People who frequently complain of acid reflux and heartburn are sometimes diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

So, if you’ve ever felt acid reflux, what’s to blame? 

Some argue they get the feeling from eating spicy foods. It’s thought, perhaps, the capsaicin in hot peppers is to blame. All peppers that register on the heat scale have some level of capsaicin, from extremely low amounts to earth-scorching levels. Some believe that it’s the capsaicin found in hot peppers that activates receptors in the esophagus, which then causes a burning sensation. Some studies have backed that up. However, there are other studies out there that suggest consuming capsaicin on a regular basis can actually reduce symptoms. There are also some people with GERD who claim they found the cure to their symptoms by eating peppers. For pepper lovers, that’s obviously good news, and potentially another health benefit of eating hot peppers on a regular basis.

As for acid reflux, there are a number of other factors that could trigger symptoms.

Obesity is sometimes a factor, and so is eating fatty foods. In particular, fatty foods are thought to make acid reflux symptoms worse because it takes this type of food longer to pass through your stomach. That increases the pressure on the valve leading to your esophagus. Smoking can also be a risk factor, plus pregnancy, those on certain medications, and those who aren’t getting a lot of exercise. As for food triggers, drinking caffeine and alcohol, as well as eating chocolate, a large meal, or even lying down after a big meal can sometimes lead to acid reflux. 

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