From flavourful vindaloo to fiery pasta arrabiata, so many of us love our spicy foods. But stomach discomfort and heartburn? Not so much. Find out why you may be experiencing stomach aches or acid reflux after spicy food, plus some tips to help minimise any pain and discomfort.
Indigestion is when you have an uncomfortable feeling in the upper part of your stomach area, which may sometimes feel like a burning pain. You may also feel really full, or sometimes might feel nauseous. Indigestion is often accompanied by heartburn (or acid reflux) – a burning sensation around your chest area, due to stomach acid rising up into your oesophagus (your food pipe).
Both heartburn and indigestion are common. While it’s not always clear what causes them, many people find that certain types of food – including spicy foods – can trigger symptoms.
Exactly how spicy food influences heartburn or indigestion isn’t clear. Some people might find that eating spicy food can trigger symptoms including heartburn and indigestion.
You may be wondering - “does spicy food cause heartburn in pregnancy?”. Heartburn is common in pregnancy, though it’s usually due to the effects of hormone changes and from internal organs being more crowded. Since spicy foods can be associated with heartburn, they may trigger symptoms in pregnant women – but it’s unlikely that spicy foods are the actual cause.
When it comes to spicy foods and heartburn, chillies and peppers may not be the only culprit. A range of other ingredients can also be associated with heartburn and indigestion, so it may be best to avoid spicy dishes that also contain large amounts of the following:
Since avoiding trigger foods is recommended for preventing heartburn and indigestion, it’s helpful to become better aware of exactly what ingredients result in symptoms for you. Is it only some spicy dishes that give you heartburn? What happens if you take out a specific ingredient? Once you’re more aware of how your body reacts, it can then be easier to adjust your diet or ask restaurants to modify dishes for you.
You can also think about how you might adapt recipes to minimise ingredients that can promote heartburn. Try cutting down on fat by choosing leaner cuts of protein, or using cooking methods like steaming or grilling. It can also help to have smaller meals and avoid lying down for at least three hours after eating.
If you do end up getting heartburn or indigestion after eating spicy foods, try Gaviscon Dual Action. By neutralising stomach acid and creating a protective layer on top of your stomach contents, it helps to bring soothing relief to your symptoms so that pain and discomfort don’t have to be the lasting memories of your meal.
All information presented is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional.