Occasional heartburn is one thing, but those who suffer from chronic conditions like acid reflux syndrome can feel the burning sensation of the stomachs' acids rising into their esophagi far too often. While the primary cause of acid reflux is a faulty valve between the stomach and the esophagus, researchers are beginning to find other contributing factors. That's because the there are 1.5 times the acid reflux sufferers in 2011 as there were 10 years earlier, according to one Norwegian study.
Researchers found that people who report having at least one episode of acid reflux per week rose by 50 percent since 2001. With it, cancer of the esophagus, a deadly form of cancer that is associated with the condition, has also grown more common.
So what's to account for the surge? Diet, for example, undoubtedly affects acid reflux symptoms, according to Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU. "I have patients who are on medication for acid reflux and then they eat the exact wrong things."
So what should you avoid? We've compiled a list of top offenders:
Thanks to a high acid content, tomatoes aren't great for those prone to acid reflux -- though they're still a healthful food, with antioxidants and nutrients that protect the heart as well.
Caffeine can stimulate acid production in the stomach and even open the lower esophageal sphincter, according to Health.com
Alcohol increases the stomach's acid <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20583281_4,00.html">production and can irritate intestinal lining</a>.
Peppermint, spearmint and mint flavorings all stimulate acid production, even if they feel soothing in the moment.
Chocolate may put us in a better mood by stimulating production of serotonin (the love and bonding neurohormone), but serotonin also works to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/gerd/living/is-chocolate-causing-your-heartburn.aspx">making way for acid to enter the esophagus</a>.
Citrus increases acidity in the stomach.
Vinegar increases acidity in the stomach.
Garlic and its cousin, onion, are known to <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/heartburn/heartburn-causes-and-triggers.aspx">aggravate acid reflux in some</a>.