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15 Foods that Cause Heartburn During Pregnancy

Getting pregnant means many changes happening inside and outside the womb. These changes are mostly spurred by hormones. Hormones play a vital role in all things pregnancy. Needless to say they are the bigwigs of the pregnant woman's body and will continue to push her round for the next nine plus months.

With all those hormones circulating all through her body during pregnancy, the muscle at the top of her stomach, which prevents digestive acids from making their way to the esophagus relaxes a bit (quite like all those other muscles in your digestive tract and other parts of her body. This results in a whole bunch of ouch!

This makes it possible for those painfully acidic digestive juices to splash back up and trigger burning and irritation. The worst part is that you will experience a surge between the 30th and 36th weeks as your uterus will push your stomach towards the throat and at the same time opening the sphincter that separates the stomach from the esophagus.

Now, there are certain foods that particularly trigger heartburn, which means you should avoid them during pregnancy. A few of these are:

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15 Coffee

Caffeinated beverages are some of the most well-known heartburn triggers and must be avoided. One of the most common heartburn trigger food is coffee, and although it may be possible for you to get away with a cup or so in the morning, it is necessary for you to know what your personal limit is.

Also, bear in mind the fact that tea and soft drinks may also contain caffeine, which means women should consider cutting back on these as well to avoid having to put up with heartburn. In fact, coffee can cause women to feel uneasy outside of pregnancy since it's a natural diarrhetic.

Just think about that before you reach for your morning vice!

Not to mention that some doctors advise their patients not to drink the warm stuff during pregnancy since there's not much known about how caffeine affects the baby in utero during pregnancy.

14 Citrus Foods

Foods like tomatoes, lemons, grapefruits and oranges etc. can all bring on heartburn after meals. All of these foods are extremely high in acid, which is why they irritate the digestive tract.

Foods like lemonade, orange juice and all other products that are prepared using citrus fruit juices and even marinades tend to have a lot of extra acid, which not only aggravates reflux, but also worsens heartburn. It is for this reason that it is best for you to avoid, or at least limit your consumption of citrus foods and/or products prepared with them.

The reason citric acid causes heartburn, is because the stomach lining is built to withstand the power of citric acid. The esophagus however, it isn't built to handle this acid. With the opening of the esophagus opening at the top of the stomach, it leaves room for the citric acid to be caught in the esophagus and cause problems.

13 Soda

Any beverages that contain caffeine are major heartburn offenders. These include soda, iced tea and many others. However, there is no need for you to give up your soda intake forever. The only thing that you need to do is cut down your soda consumption and pay attention to portion sizes. Do these two things and you should see a decrease in heartburn.

Not to mention the fact that the sugar content and carbonated water in the soda can upset the stomach acid as well, which sure doesn't help a pregnant woman who just wants to enjoy a soda! The best drink during pregnancy is water. Water can filter out your system and is a natural and healthy alternative to sodas, when you feel thirsty grab a glass of water instead of a bottle of soda.

12 Spicy Foods

Mexican food, pepper, chili and all other foods that are packed full of chilli pepper or other spices can cause severe cases of heartburn. For this reason, avoiding the consumption of spicy food during pregnancy is a must if you don’t want to deal with heartburn. If you have a craving for spicy foods, well, just try having milder version of whatever you like – don’t go for the full-blown spicy version.

If you aren’t willing to let heartburn stop you from having those delicious spicy foods you love, then you should also try limiting the amount of food you eat. The thing with having large meals is that these place immense pressure on the valve, which is what leads to those bouts of acid reflux after a big meal.

So you can enjoy your favorite spicy dish, maybe just don't clean your plate!

11 Peppermint

The reason why peppermint increases your chances of having heartburn is because it tends to relax the sphincter muscle that is found between the stomach and esophagus. What this does is that it makes it possible for stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus, thereby triggering heartburn that is definitely going to hurt and irritate you. And you thought peppermint was harmless.

Irrespective of whether the peppermint is found in candies or used as a flavoring in other foods, it can and will aggravate acid reflux. Yes, some people are not bothered by peppermint, but it is best for you to avoid minty foods like peppermint candy and chewing gum if you notice them triggering your heartburn. If you want something to take bad breath away, cinnamon is a great alternative to peppermint.

10 Garlic

Yes, the aroma of foods packed full of garlic can make your mouth water, but when you’re prone to heartburn during pregnancy, it is best for you to avoid consuming them. Which can be hard for people who love mediterranean foods or adding garlic for a boost of flavor.

Garlic offers many benefits besides flavoring your foods. For instance, it can lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, bacterial and fungal infections in your body and high cholesterol etc. However, there are side-effects as well that you may experience including indigestion (if you consume garlic in large amounts) and heartburn.

That's because garlic contains a compound called fructans. Fructans are not fully digested by humans, so the undigested compounds can cause trouble with anybody's digestive track.

9 Chocolate

Chocolate is actually loaded with caffeine, but even without that characteristic, chocolate is most definitely a heartburn food in and of itself. Honestly speaking, if you don’t want to deal with heartburn, then chuck out every bit of chocolate found in your house – trust me, you won’t regret doing this considering the discomfort it will save you from.

We all know just how delicious chocolate is, and according to research, dark chocolate contains high levels of healthful antioxidants like theobromine, which has the potential to boost your mood. But no one can deny chocolate’s negative side effect of triggering heartburn too.

Just so you know, theobromine and all the high levels of caffeine found in chocolate are all methylxanthines. For those who don’t know, these are naturally occurring substances that prevent the lower esophageal sphincter muscle from getting tightened, thereby leading to reflux and heartburn.

8 Cheese

Cheese and Chocolate. Do you know what these two foods have in common? Both of them have very high levels of fat. Although these foods do not receive as much press as acidic foods in terms of heartburn, you need to bear in mind that these are major triggers.

Why so? Well, because fat slows down the emptying on the stomach, which means that there is more opportunity for a big distended stomach. This, in turn, increases the pressure on the esophageal sphincter, thereby leading to reflux and heartburn.

So while your cravings may be telling you that all you need is a little cheese or chocolate or both. Moderation will be your mantra over the remaining months of pregnancy. So try to cut back on cheese and chocolate if your cravings will let you.

7 Avocadoes

Yes foods that are rich in fat typically tend to taste yummy, but there’s no denying the fact that these lead to heartburn too – the same holds true for avocadoes.

The thing with fats is that these tend to sit in the stomach much longer than any other foods. During digestion, this puts extra pressure on the stomach muscles, thereby causing irritation and reflux.

The worst part is that heavy consumption of fatty foods tends to weaken the LES muscle in stomach, which is responsible for keeping the acids moving in the right direction.

All the fatty and foods don't do your esophagus any favors, since they open the LES and allow scorching acid to travel up the esophagus and cause problems in the digestive track.

6 Alcohol

Beer, wine and even your favorite cocktail can trigger severe heartburn. This particularly holds true for instances when you combine them with a large meal. So if your meal consists of a steak, creamed spinach and lobster bisque together with alcohol, then you’ve literally set yourself up for heartburn.

Although, alcohol during pregnancy is a pretty controversial. Alcohol is known to cause FAS and FAE which are alcohol related mental and physical delays that the child experiences for the rest of their life.

If you have a drinking problem, work with your health practitioner to help you quit. Or if you want more information, talk to your healthcare provider. It's never too late to cut back, no matter how far along you are. If you can't do it for your baby, try to do it for you!

5 Fried Food

Fried foods and foods that are high in trans-fats are more challenging to digest and eventually wreak havoc on the digestive tract. If anything, these goods tend to slow down the entire digestive process, which triggers excessive acids that eventually move upward into the esophagus.

Fried fats also remain stuck in the digestive process for longer periods of time, and can create increased pressure in the stomach. This creates the perfect storm of heartburn. Fatty foods and an open and exposed esophagus mean what feels like a life time of digestive burning.

To avoid the hurt after a fried meal, talk to your healthcare provider about the use of TUMS for relief. Some antacids are ok to use during pregnancy, but definitely talk to your doctor before taking any!

4 Processed Baked Goods

Doesn't it feel like pregnancy means you deserve some treats just for being with child?Sweets like brownies and cookies create an acidic environment, especially if they are processed baked goods that are full of artificial colors and preservatives, which many brand you buy from the grocery store are.

If possible, it is best for pregnant women to avoid all forms of enriched flour and refined white sugar. Why so? Well for the simple reason that they rank highest on the “acidic” charts. Yikes! It's incredibly hard to find anything that doesn't contain sugar.

Not to mention, butter a fatty food is also largely used for baking and can also lead to heartburn. So, once again, eat these foods in moderation to stop from having any acid reflux.

3 Fatty Foods

High-fat and greasy foods make the list of some of the most common heartburn offenders. To begin with, these foods relax the LES. High-fat foods also stay in your stomach for a longer time. This slower digestion can lead to a higher risk for obesity.

In turn, people who regularly eat a high fat diet are more likely to have conditions that cause heartburn, like hiatal hernia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The fatty diet can cause possibly cause problems for the baby down the road as well. Fetuses benefit from a healthy diet since so much of the vitamins and minerals they need to survive also help them to grow and develop.

So try to wrangle in any cravings for high fatty foods. you'll be glad you did when the baby is here and you get back to normal.

2 Nuts

On the one hand, nuts are rich in protein, but on the other, they are packed full of fats too. Although it is good fat, the fact of the matter is that fatty foods generally relax your stomach, delay digestion, and slow down the process of emptying your stomach.

In turn, this will trigger bloating, increasing pressure on the esophageal sphincter. This might cause acid reflux or heartburn. And since nuts digest slowly, this leaves the LES open for longer and allows acid to travel up the esophagus.

And when anything travels up the esophagus, it causes havoc on a pregnant woman's digestive track. Although you may crave some nuts, eat small amounts and try to monitor how much you eat. Seeds are also a great alternative to nuts.

1 Beef

Beef are high in fat, which, as we know, can lead to acid reflux. Furthermore, those expensive cuts like porterhouse, filet mignon, and T-bone steaks are particular culprits in terms of heartburn due to their high fat content. These also include top round, sirloin tip, and top sirloin. Low fat cuts of beef seem tough, so stew or marinate the meat to get better results.

Some beef cuts are higher in fat than others. So if you are buying beef from a butcher, ask for lean cuts. Or if you buy prepackaged meats, try to cut off excess fat when you get it home. Also try to eat less red meat and more diverse meats. Fish, chicken and pork are all great parts of a healthy diet, try to incorporate as much as you can into your weekly meals.

Sources: The Bump, What to Expect, LiveStrong, WebMD

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