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Dealing with Indigestion – which foods are OK for Heartburn?

October 15, 2018

Cupped hands hoping spicy peppers - Indigestion

Indigestion can be a very uncomfortable experience and affects daily activities, sometimes making us too ill to function well.

Another word for Indigestion is Dyspepsia.

Indigestion describes a set of different problems that affect our digestion, happening during or after a meal.

Examples are:

  • Heartburn
  • Stomach ache or bellyache
  • Feeling bloated
  • Nausea or the feeling that you want to vomit.
  • Belching and farting ( releasing gas from the mouth and anus, respectively)

In other words, indigestion happens for a number of different reasons, from eating too quickly at mealtime to eating a particular food that does not agree with you.

In addition, chewing food with your mouth open and swallowing too much air can lead to Indigestion.

Sometimes you may experience a situation when hydrochloric acid from inside your stomach travels up to rub on the lining of the gullet (food pipe).

To clarify, this is a condition known as acid reflux, and the painful (often) burning sensation you feel in the middle of your chest and throat is known as heartburn.

Furthermore, some people may experience a taste of ‘acid’ in their mouth as well as heartburn.

But how does Heartburn happen?

The gullet is simply the tube or channel connecting your mouth to the stomach and should usually be acid-free.

It is also known as the food pipe or Oesophagus.

But stomach acid is important to the body – digestion starts in the stomach, which is where the acid is required and produced for digestion.

In the normal scenario, a little piece of muscle (valve) closes the stomach off from the food pipe and prevents food in the stomach from travelling back upwards to the gullet.

This may be affected or weakened in people with acid reflux – allowing the stomach acid to flow into the gullet.

The gullet does not have the same type of protective lining or tissue as the stomach, where stomach acid is produced.

Therefore, it cannot withstand the effect of stomach acid when it travels upwards from the stomach.

The irritation of the tissues in the gullet leads to heartburn.

Causes of Heartburn

The conditions that cause heartburn are those that can lead to problems with the valve or an excess amount of acid in the stomach.

They are:

  • certain medicines,
  • being overweight,
  • smoking and alcohol,
  • eating large amounts of food at a time
  • going to bed (lying down) almost immediately following a meal
  • certain types of food – spicy and processed food types,
  • conditions like stomach ulcers, hiatus hernia.

Indigestion is almost usually a big feature in addition to these conditions.

It would be good to understand each individual’s own symptoms for your doctor to assist with good and effective management.

There are no foods that cure heartburn or indigestion but prevention of the symptoms can be achieved by adopting certain food choices and eating habits which will improve bowel movements, the effect of acid and help reduce bloating from gases produced during digestion.

Foods that can lead to Heartburn

People who struggle with heartburn (and indigestion) should avoid or minimise their consumption of the following types of food:

1. High-fat foods

2. Tomatoes and other citrus fruits like – grapefruit, orange, pineapple etc

3. Coffee (regular and decaffeinated).

4. Caffeinated soft drinks.

5. Tea.

6. Chocolate.

7. Garlic, onions, and other spicy foods.

8. Beans.

8. Mint – watch out for this.  In some cases of an upset tummy, indigestion or bloated stomach, mint can help to relieve symptoms. Still, as it relaxes the muscle between the food pipe and stomach, it can also make dyspepsia and acid reflux worse.

Foods that can help Heartburn

On the other hand, the following foods can help improve symptoms associated with heartburn and provide relief from Indigestion:

1. Oatmeal.

2. Ginger (used in moderation).

3. Salads – although avoiding tomatoes, onions, cheese, and high-fat dressings.

4. Bananas.

5. Watermelon.

6. Chicken, Turkey – avoiding the skin.

7. Fish, and some other seafood.

8. Green vegetables.

9. Rice, especially brown rice; Semolina.

Hopefully, these tips help guide to the right choices for improving digestion.

As usual, we’d like to hear from you –  share some thoughts on other foods that can improve or worsen Indigestion.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credit – Photo by Gabrielle Cepella on Unsplash

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