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Chocolate, wine, spicy foods may be OK for heartburn, Stanford study finds

and wine and everything that they enjoy - and basically their heartburn wasn't getting any better," she said. "So I decided that maybe it's time to look and see if these lifestyle measures really work."

In a May issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, Gerson and two other physicians at the School of Medicine - Tonya Kaltenbach, MD, and Seth Crockett, MD - published the results of a systematic survey they conducted of more than 2,000 studies published worldwide on heartburn, also known as acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), between 1975 and 2004. They found 100 studies looking at lifestyle factors thought to be associated with heartburn. Only 16 of those studies examined how implementing lifestyle changes affect heartburn symptoms, and these studies were the focus of their article.

Their conclusion: There is currently no evidence to show that any of the dietary restrictions usually recommended make a difference. They found only two lifestyle changes for which there was evidence of a clear benefit from making a change. First, if you're overweight, then losing some pounds will reduce or even eliminate the amount of heartburn you suffer. Second, raising the head of your bed will cut down on the amount of stomach acid that can enter your esophagus while you sleep.

But Gerson noted a conundrum in her counsel. Although there is no evidence that ceasing consumption of the suspect foods will reduce heartburn, some of the studies did show that certain of the foods (such as chocolate and carbonated beverages) can reduce the pressure exerted by the esophageal sphincter, the control valve that keeps the food you've swallowed and your digestive acids down in your stomach, where they belong.

Heartburn is most commonly caused when the esophageal sphincter relaxes more often than it is supposed to, allowing stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus. That causes a burning sensation behind the breastbone or acidic fluid surging up i
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Source:Stanford University Medical Center


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