Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trying to Pull the Trigger

"Avoid trigger foods!" is common advice to people who suffer from acid reflux. (This is more advice than I got from my doctors.) The theory is that certain foods cause the LES (lower esophageal sphincter muscle) to remain open and allow stomach acid into the esophagus. Today I put that theory to the test.

Two trigger foods are fat and garlic; another trigger is a big meal. For lunch, I ate a two-egg omelet with garlic-herb cream cheese and reduced fat cheddar cheese (it was what I had on hand). For good measure, I put half an avacado on top and added some mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper for flavor. Except for the avacado and absence of salsa, this was the same meal I ate last Sunday when I had blistering reflux.

For a mid-afternoon snack, I ate about a cup of mixed nuts and sunflower seeds (a high-fat snack) and chased it with two cups of white tea, which has caffeine (another trigger food).

For breakfast, I had a plain Spiru-Tein protein shake with a few drops of orange and vanilla extracts. There's no sugar added to this product, nor did I eat anything besides what I've listed here.

Result: on a pain scale of one to ten, my throat was about a 3 most of the day. My stomach felt fine. (My lower esophagus has very little feeling.) My throat felt warm and a little constricted, like an allergic reaction. I may have had an allergic reaction to the avacado--it used to happen many years ago. I'm also tender from reflux over the past week. If I hadn't been paying attention to how I felt, I might not have even noticed anything.

Conclusion: Trigger foods may give me a little bit of acid reflux, and might aggravate reflux from other causes. The terrible reflux I had last Sunday was brought on by a hot cocoa and aggravated by a big fatty meal afterwards. I was probably also suffering from acid rebound, having stopped taking a proton-pump inhibitor two days before. The triggers by themselves didn't cause much of a bang.

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