Acid reflux or heartburn has everything to do with your gut—and nothing to do with your heart. The irritation occurs when acid produced in your stomach travels up your esophagus because your lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle at the entrance to your stomach, which closes as soon as food passes through) opens too often or doesn’t close all the way. When this happens, you may feel burning in your chest (hence the term “heartburn”), experience hiccups, burping, or nausea.
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Aside from eating too much, lying down or bending over after a large meal, and taking certain medications, your diet is a major influencer. Certain foods are highly acidic and have certain properties that trigger the onset of acid reflux—they may relax the stomach muscles or act as an irritant. If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of heartburn, take note if these foods are in your diet. If they are, pay special attention to when you eat them and if you experience the side effects of acid reflux 20 to 30 minutes after eating, in the midst of a workout, or as you’re lying in bed. If you do, exercise some common sense and limit your consumption—or pass the Tums.
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