Here’s What You Need to Know About Making Heartburn-Friendly Meals
If you suffer from occasional heartburn, you know how quickly it can put a damper on a great meal. And if you don’t, you probably know someone who appreciates heartburn-friendly food. Your best line of defense is understanding what causes heartburn, which triggers to avoid, and how to treat it if you can’t steer clear of certain ingredients or simply need fast relief.
So we teamed up with renowned soul food chef Millie Peartree and gastroenterology specialist Dr. Samantha Nazareth to show you how easy it is to cook heartburn-friendly meals. And when you want to indulge, one of the best options for heartburn relief is PEPCID AC® Max, which works in as little as 15 minutes and controls acid all day or all night*, letting you enjoy your favorite foods without the interruption of painful heartburn symptoms.
Ready to dig in? Here’s everything you need to know about heartburn, how to manage it, and how to make comforting meals for everyone at your table.
What Causes Heartburn?
According to Pepcid.com, heartburn occurs when acid escapes from your stomach up into your esophagus. Unlike the stomach, the esophagus isn’t meant to house acid, so that’s when you feel the burn. Food is the most common trigger of heartburn. Your stomach may react to certain foods by increasing acid production, slowing down digestion, or inhibiting the esophageal sphincter’s ability to prevent stomach contents from leaking back into the esophagus.
According to Dr. Nazareth, not everyone will experience heartburn in their lifetime. “The tricky thing is everyone’s triggers may be different,” she said. In addition to diet, “pregnancy and weight gain are also risk factors for heartburn.”
How Can I Avoid Heartburn?
Chef Millie Peartree is an occasional heartburn sufferer herself, so she’s had to get creative in the kitchen in order to keep discomfort at bay. “Heartburn has definitely affected my pleasure of spicy food. As I got older, I found that my tolerance for super spicy food has diminished,” she said. “When you are cooking up a spicy dish and don’t want to sacrifice on flavor, fresh herbs are wonderful substitutes.”
Spicy foods aren’t the only common triggers for those who struggle with heartburn. “Raw onions, tomatoes, fatty and fried food (think french fries and burgers), citrus fruits, vinegar, and chocolate are other common triggers,” Dr. Nazareth said. She added that drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages, and coffee can cause heartburn, too.
Beyond food triggers, it’s important to pay attention to portion size and meal times. Avoid eating very large meals and very late at night. “I also recommend staying upright for at least three to four hours after the last meal — don’t immediately lay down after dinner,” Dr. Nazareth said. “And when you are sleeping, do not lay down completely flat, elevate the head of the bed. Also, try and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, such as not smoking and getting regular exercise.”
How Can I Treat Heartburn?
“For those moments where you want to indulge in trigger foods without heartburn symptoms ruining a good meal, I recommend having PEPCID AC® Max on hand,” said Dr. Nazareth. “PEPCID AC® Max lowers the amount of acid your stomach makes with the active ingredient Famotidine.” If you run into heartburn frequently, she recommends talking with a medical professional to understand your symptoms and determine the best treatment plan.
Personally, Chef Millie has also found PEPCID AC® Max to be a great option for heartburn relief. “I’m currently on a wellness journey and love citrusy and spicy foods to help enhance my flavor profile, especially in my ‘lighter’ recipes,” she said. “On the days where I want to indulge in spicy foods without worrying about heartburn symptoms, I count on PEPCID AC® MAX. When taken before I eat a spicy meal, it really helps to prevent my heartburn and starts working in as little as 15 minutes to control acid all day or night.”*
*Based on 9-hour acid control studies during the day and 12-hour acid control studies during the night. Acid control does not imply symptom relief.