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Foods That Cause Hearburn

Foods That Cause Heartburn

More and more research continues to mount regarding the effects of food on gastrointestinal disease. Most recently a paper was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology discussing the importance of food intolerance and sensitivities and their relationship to the development of acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. In essence the study confirms that foods cause heartburn. The quote below is taken directly from the paper…

Food intolerances or sensitivities are reactions to foods, which are not due to immunological mechanisms. Lactose intolerance is common in the general population and can mimic symptoms of FGID (functional gastrointestinal disorders) or coexist with FGID. As discussed in other articles in this series, other carbohydrate intolerances may be responsible for symptom generation in patients with IBS and perhaps other FGIDs. There is a great interest in the role of a major dietary protein, gluten, in the production of symptoms that are very similar to those of patients with celiac disease without the enteropathy that characterizes celiac disease. Emerging research into a syndrome known as nonceliac gluten sensitivity suggests a heterogeneous condition with some features of celiac disease but often categorized as FGIDs, including IBS.

Source: Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Apr 9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.97.

Blood Tests Measure Allergies Not Intolerance

The reason this paper is important is that it highlights a major difference between food allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities. Most GI doctors will only measure for IgG allergic response to gluten. The problem with that approach is that it only rules out 1 of 7 types of allergic reactions you could be having against a food. The other problem is that it does not address the issue of intolerance or sensitivity. Sadly, doctors who don’t test for the differences often times tell their patients to continue eating gluten even though they shouldn’t. This can lead to confusion and missed diagnosis. For more on lab testing read and watch this video from leading expert, Dr. Russell Jaffe.

Case in point, I recently had a patient come to see me because her GI doctor told her to stop eating gluten free and she started feeling horrible. He tested her gluten IgG levels. They were negative, and he proceeded to tell her that a gluten free diet was dangerous to follow unless you have celiac disease. This doctor was obviously in the wrong. How many thousands of GI doctors get it wrong every day…and how many thousands of patients are given the wrong information and continue to maintain a very preventable gluten related illness over it?

foods that cause heartburn

Prescribed Drugs Don’t Cure Disease

The patient above was put on an acid blocking medication and told to eat more whole grain fiber. The reason she came to see me is because this advice made her even more sick. Aside from the whole grain being full of gluten that she was reacting to, the medication induced a digestive problem as well. It created multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies that led to anemia and severe fatigue.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux syndrome (GERD – AKA heartburn) are two conditions that I have seen completely correct countless times for people who change their diet. Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, and soy free diets can be extremely helpful to help alleviate hearburn. I also see a strong trend for these conditions being caused by the consumption of genetically modified foods. If you are suffering from IBS or GERD and you have tested negative for gluten allergy or celiac disease, you might just want to consider genetic testing for gluten. You might also consider removing the following foods that cause heartburn from your diet:

Foods That Cause Heartburn

  • Grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice)
  • Soy
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Coffee and tea (caffeine)
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus (limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit)


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It is time for doctors to start ruling out gluten sensitivity as well as other food intolerance, sensitivities, and allergies. It is time for doctors to start recognizing the therapeutic benefit of diet change. If you think that this information will help someone you love suffering with a IBS and/or acid reflux, please forward this along.

6 Responses

  1. I have suffered from IBS daily and acid reflux for 23 yrs and was diagnosed with gastritis
    2 – 1/2 years ago which I obviously had on and off for many years thinking it was just ulcers. The gastrologist put me on pariet / nexium and said I would be on it for life. After the birth of a child who came up with a huge rash at 6weeks and ended up with sever eczema due to breastfeeding. The health clinic sugested i get tested for allergies along with my partner to see if we have allergies that she may also have. Bingo Gluten and many other culprits. Now why didn’t my qualified gastrologist not suggest that. Idiot. Sadly we all ended up with allergies to things, thankfully we found out. My daughter and I were the worst off and sadly unless you have allergies or intolerances yourself no one quite understands. You become frustrating to feed. Which I totally understand as I struggle to figure out what to eat. It’s very hard to find gluten free products without corn substances in them.

  2. I have cured my IBS (unless something sneaks in) and my GERD is GONE I had it since I could remember at 7- probably before. My dad died of esophagael cancer after a lifetime of GERD and IBS. I was scared of the same thing, plus I had bad muscle and joint pain/arthritis- which I attributed to being a college athlete- and weight gain which I blamed myself for. I was on daily multiple meds which made me feel drugged and semi dead inside. I am now med free and down 115 pounds and free of the pain the plagued me. No more almost daily migraines either. I am gluten, corn, soy, dairy, BPA, banana/latex free. Eating differently from how you are accustomed is important. Before I ate a lot of grains- the gov’t encouraged me too!! They were yummy!! I was an athlete!! They were cheap!! SO my meals were based around grain. Now, I know I am sensitive even to meat that ate my intolerances, so I eat less but higher quality organic meats (and I have two growing children to feed so I know about expensive food bills- one eats how I eat) and I eat a lot more organic and local produce. I eat a lot more mostly raw nuts and seeds. Some fruit.
    My doctor has expressed zero interest in how I have healed myself. I am less of a money maker for her now. Sad. I live in a small town, but am looking to our nearby big city to replace her. What is important is that I have recognized what I have done that works for me, and am listening to my own body. MOdern medicine has proved that it does not have all of the answers, and I stay away from the doctor now and just eat what makes my body feel okay.. or even better- GREAT!! I now love cooked greens- I eat them regularly- life changing to find the way your body needs you to eat! Everyone’s body is different.. think about your major ancestry though, and what they had access to- it is a place to start.

  3. I would like to know if there is a way to heal your gut and add these food back into your diet or if you must avoid these food forever if you have a sensitivity to them? Thank you.

  4. Dear All.
    I had severe heartburn for many years and endured the agony of my chest feeling like it was about to explode. A gluten free diet (eliminated anything that had wheat written on the allergen statement) resolved the issue. Initially when I went on the diet, I just ate meat and veg everyday. Now I eat Thai, BBQ food but no pasta, no bread, no pizza etc… and I am now fine. Thank God because I thought I was doomed. Hope this helps.

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