Garlic is a plant that is often referred to as Allium sativum. It is one of the most famous spices that flavor your food and contains excellent medicinal properties. For years garlic has been used in traditional remedies and cultural foods but can this beneficial plant cause discomforting heartburn symptoms in your body? Keep reading to find out.
Does Garlic Cause Heartburn?
Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. It is caused when a significant muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions and allows stomach acids to enter your food pipe. The reflux of these acids into your lower esophagus can generate a burning sensation, i.e., heartburn and chest pain.
Your question is whether garlic can cause these symptoms. Simply put, garlic can have various effects, and each body may react differently to its consumption. Hence, unless you have experienced heartburn after eating garlic, there is no other way to determine.
For some people, garlic’s health benefits have proven to alleviate heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, while others react poorly. If you wish to learn how a single substance can have such opposite effects, you have reached the right place. We have comprehensively described how and why garlic can be good or bad for heartburn.
Why Does Garlic Cause Heartburn?
When you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, you’ll be asked to abstain from several food substances immediately. These trigger foods include spicy foods, soft drinks, fatty foods, acidic foods, and dairy products.
Unlike other food triggers, your doctors will not ask you to cut garlic out of your diet entirely, but they don’t encourage its consumption either, so you can say that garlic is just a neutral food that may or may not cause trouble.
We have listed why this vegetable can cause heartburn, and even though there is limited research on this matter, if you are one of the people who experience adverse effects of garlic, then keep reading.
Read also: Is Ginger Ale Good For Acid Reflux?
Garlic May Irritate The Lining Of The Esophagus
Garlic is famously well-known because it has several health benefits, but it is essential to remember that there are some harmful ones too. The compounds in garlic tend to irritate the lining of your esophagus, weakening your esophagus and increasing the likeliness of heartburn.
These same compounds can irritate and inflame your digestive tract as well.
Even though the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic are useful, when eaten on an empty stomach, it can cause severe irritation.
Heartburn becomes a greater possibility when raw garlic or garlic supplements are consumed.
It is Both a Spicy And Acidic Food
Allicin is a chemical in garlic that is responsible for garlic’s spicy aroma. You might have often heard spicy foods trigger GERD, but have you ever wondered why?
Spicy foods contain capsaicin, which not only irritates the esophagus but also prolongs the digestion process. The slower the food digests, the higher the chance of acid reflux and heartburn, and garlic is dangerous because it takes our bodies around 24 hours to digest its clove.
As for acidic foods, garlic is rich in amino acids, which, much like spicy food, cause indigestion problems in your body. They do it by causing stomach acids to offset. Together these two properties of garlic can trigger heartburn.
Why Is Garlic Considered An Acidic Food?
Garlic is one of the vegetables from the allium family that lies on a value of 5.8 on the PH scale. This means that it is a little too far from the neutral zone and can most certainly cause acidity in your body. Patients are advised to reduce garlic consumption because its acidic properties increase the risk of acid reflux and painful heartburn symptoms.
Read also: Can GERD Cause Shoulder Pain?
Is Garlic Good For Heartburn Symptoms?
For a long time, Egyptians have used garlic in several of their traditional remedies, and to this day, herbalists and nutritionists encourage its regular consumption. Garlic is rich in health properties, so cutting it out from your diet can have more harmful effects than positive ones.
Several Home Remedies Contain Garlic As a Treatment
Several home remedies and natural medicines use garlic as their main ingredient. Garlic contains all features, such as anti-bacterial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it herbalists’ and nutritionists’ most recommended herb.
Even so, there is a risk that garlic may irritate your digestive tract. It does not happen to every patient, and there is insufficient evidence to give a definite answer. This may come as good news to you, but unless you experience garlic-triggered heartburn symptoms firsthand, you don’t have to leave it.
Garlic herbal tea can relieve upset stomach, nausea, and other GERD symptoms rather than cause them.
Garlic Reduces Insulin Resistance
This is a long link and is mainly for patients who suffer from diabetes and acid reflux disease alike. A way garlic can help you with heartburn is by reducing insulin resistance. You might think about what insulin resistance has to do with acid reflux, heartburn, and garlic, but you’ll be shocked to see their connection.
Insulin resistance is when your body stops responding to its own produced insulin, and blood sugar levels keep rising. Meanwhile, erosive esophagitis is a severe GERD complication that causes extreme symptoms of GERD. Both these diseases are often associated with one another, and insulin resistance is considered a risk factor for GERD.
Eating garlic regularly can help you manage your blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. Allicin and other garlic compounds increase insulin levels in your body, and once that problem is solved, erosive esophagitis and heartburn will also reduce.
Garlic Has Antibacterial Properties
One of the many medicinal properties of garlic includes its ability to kill harmful bacteria in our bodies. Garlic strengthens good bacteria and creates a healthy balance in our systems. This improved balance will reduce acidity and alleviate heartburn symptoms to a great degree.
For instance, H.pylori is a bacteria that resides in your stomach, and 90% of the time, this bacteria is the leading cause of heartburn.
Unsurprisingly, garlic and olive oil are the most famous food substances that kill them effectively.
How To Eat Garlic Without Triggering Heartburn?
If you occasionally experience heartburn after eating garlic but still can’t resist adding this flavorful spice/ vegetable to your diet, then consult your healthcare provider and seek their medical advice.
Other than that, safe methods can enable you to consume garlic without triggering heartburn.
Make It Less Acidic
As discussed above, garlic is an acidic substance with a 5.8 value on the PH scale, but what if we told you that its acids could be neutralized? This may seem impossible, but yes, you can follow this easy and quick method to prevent the side effects of garlic.
- Heat milk to a boiling point (whole milk rather than full-fat)
- Peel the garlic and put it inside
- Let it settle for 15-20 minutes
- Dry the cloves and use them as you wish.
Fact: roasting, pickling, and heating garlic can reduce its allicin properties and make it less acidic.
By Making Garlic More Digestible
Some of the compounds in garlic can cause indigestion in your body, and a prolonged digestive process increases the risk of heartburn, so the best way to avoid that would be to make it more digestible.
Take a look at the following methods to learn how to do that.
- Cooked garlic is easier to digest than raw, and the same goes for raw onion.
- Chop fresh garlic and wait 10 minutes before eating it.
- Cut the garlic cloves and remove the sprout from in between
- Avoid using garlic powder
- Eat in small quantities because high doses may be hard to consume
Does Garlic Cause Heartburn Summary
In short, it varies from individual to individual whether their body will react poorly to garlic consumption. If you are someone with acid reflux, you will know that its unpleasant symptoms are intense, so rather than underestimating garlic’s potential risks on your reflux, it is much better to keep a food diary and note down the results it causes.
This recommendation is not limited to garlic alone. Acid reflux sufferers should make a complete list of foods that triggers their acid reflux so they can avoid eating it.
We hope you understand whether garlic causes heartburn or not, and if you found this article helpful, share it with your friends and make their lives easier.