What food triggers heartburn?

Knowing which foods and drinks trigger heartburn can be very helpful for preventing it. Keep in mind that food triggers may be different for different people. If not sure what is causing your heartburn, you may want to start avoiding the most common food triggers first. 

According to Ronni Chernoff, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, the following are the worst offenders:

  • Alcohol (especially red wine)
  • Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Hot peppers, onions or spicy foods
  • Peppermint or spearmint
  • Oranges, lemons and citrus drinks like orange juice
  • Tomatoes, tomato sauce and other high-acid foods 
  • High-fat meals such as cheeseburgers, fries and shakes

High-fat foods may stay in your stomach longer, which can cause acid reflux. As your stomach produces more acid to digest that food, your digestive system can become irritated. Greasy and fatty foods also relax the muscular valve between your stomach and esophagus (the tube that leads from your mouth to your stomach), causing acid and stomach contents to back up the same tube they came down, triggering heartburn. 

How much you eat, when you eat and what you do after eating can cause heartburn too. For example, if you eat right before exercising at a high intensity or if you lie down right after eating, you might trigger heartburn that otherwise would not have occurred simply due to the food alone. 

Food is not the only thing that triggers heartburn. Other known heartburn triggers include stress, smoking, vaping, being overweight, pregnancy and even certain types of exercise. 

If you keep having heartburn and you’re not sure what’s causing it, keep track of food and drinks you consume, what you do before and after eating, and when heartburn symptoms occur to better track what might be triggering the heartburn. This sort of food diary can also be helpful when talking to your doctors, to help them figure out a cause.

For heartburn relief while you’re trying to determine the cause, use Tagamet HB 200® tablets as directed to relieve (or prevent) heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. It temporarily reduces the amount of acid produced in your stomach. Tagamet®, which contains cimetidine (not ranitidine), is FDA approved as a safe alternative to Zantac. It’s also been trusted for over 40 years*.

*Based on Tagamet consumer purchase since 1977