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

nto the mouth. So it might seem logical to think that if a particular food has been shown to cause a loosening of the sphincter, then eliminating that food from your diet would allow the sphincter to tighten up, thus reducing your heartburn. But, no, said Gerson, that doesn't necessarily seem to be the case, because simply eliminating a certain food doesn't fix the main problem of the esophageal sphincter relaxing too readily.

Gerson's experiences with her patients back that up.

"It's very rare to see a patient who says, 'Oh, I just changed my diet and everything got better,'" she said, "though this might be the case for patients with milder heartburn symptoms who never walk into the doctor's office for advice."

The cause of the conundrum lies in the nature of the studies that have been done. They generally looked at whether a particular food decreased the pressure exerted by the sphincter or increased the acidity in the stomach, but not at whether taking that food out of a patient's diet made any difference.

For example, Gerson said, "There were 14 studies that examined the effect of coffee on sphincter pressure and acidity in the esophagus, and none of them demonstrated a change after coffee consumption. To date, no one has done a study where they took patients and told them to cut coffee out for several days to see if their sphincter pressures or acid profiles markedly improved."

Gerson and her co-authors said that to really sort out how effective, or ineffective, dietary and lifestyle changes are in combating GERD, future research has to be designed to specifically look at the effects of implementing those measures.

Most physicians treating a heartburn sufferer will generally put them on a medication, in addition to any lifestyle changes they recommend. These days that's usually a proton pump inhibitor, which reduces the amount of acid secreted in the stomach.

Gerson said that for the most part, medication
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Source:Stanford University Medical Center


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