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GERD: Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Your diet plays a significant role in preventing acidity and heartburn. Therefore, it is important to know about the foods you should avoid.

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: Apr 14, 2023 15:03 IST
GERD: Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux and Heartburn

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Since the turn of the century, there has been a tremendous shift in our lifestyle. Not only have we witnessed technological advancements, but we have also seen changes in our daily habits, particularly when it comes to our Diet. We have several food options and varieties now, but we're still focused on eating foods that tend to our cravings and not our health. Of the many ill effects of wrong food choices, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, is one of the most prominent health problems currently affecting many people. According to a study published in the Annals of Medicine, in 2019, there were 783.95 million cases of GERD worldwide.

Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Edwina Raj, Senior Dietician, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, not only discusses the factors that can cause acid reflux but also talks about the foods that can trigger the condition. 

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Factors That Can Lead To Acid Reflux 

Several factors play a role in setting off acid reflux. While Diet is one of the leading causes of acidity, Dr Raj lists down other reasons why you can experience heartburn. 

  • Use of tobacco products (smoking or chewing)
  • Obesity or unhealthy weight
  • Chewing gum
  • Lying down immediately after eating
  • Eating large portions of foods

Foods That Cause Heartburn

Dr Raj says, "Diet, no doubt, plays an important role in the occurrence of heartburn. What we eat is essential for maintaining good digestion, which can help us avoid heartburn and acidity." Having said that, she shares the list of foods that can cause acid reflux and heartburn.

  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Spicy foods or chillies
  • Chocolates 
  • Creamy, cheesy, and fast food
  • Citrus fruits and juices (grapefruit, orange, pineapple and tomato) 
  • Caffeinated drinks (coffee/tea/aerated drinks)
  • Alcohol

How To Prevent An Acid Reflux

Where there is a will, there is a way. If you're someone looking to stay fit, you must practise healthy habits regularly. Given that acid reflux can occur in anyone due to several reasons, it is important to understand your risk factors and indulge in things that minimise your risk. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep a close watch on your weight and abdominal obesity, which increases the risk of reflux.
  • Stop using tobacco in all its forms, as nicotine weakens the lower oesophagal muscle.
  • Avoid chewing gum as it increases the amount of swallowed air, leading to belching and reflux.
  • Do not lie down immediately after eating, and avoid late-evening snacks. 
  • Do not wear tight clothes or bend over after eating.
  • Stick to small, frequent portions of food and healthy snack options.


Acid reflux or GERD is not life-threatening. However, if it is left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems, such as esophagitis, ulcers, strictures, aspiration pneumonia, and Barrett's oesophagus. Making proper lifestyle changes can not only ease symptoms but can reduce the risk of other severe health complications.