Unusual and Surprising Causes of My Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and Indigestion

Updated on November 18, 2017
happyfaktor profile image

Some of the foods that cause heartburn and indigestion for me may be surprising. I wonder if they cause trouble for other people, too?

It's Not Just Unhealthy Foods That Can Cause Indigestion

We've all been there before. Many people experience some type of indigestion, heartburn, or acid reflux after eating obviously dangerous, cheesy, greasy foods like nachos, chili, or anything deep fried. For some of us, however, indigestion is a daily grind—no matter how healthily we eat.

Anyone who has experienced these symptoms (and that's most of us) knows that it's not only painful and annoying, but can cause potential health risks down the road. Medication for acid reflux and heartburn is being prescribed at an all-time high, with the number of prescriptions rising every day.

I'm not an expert—and there may be no concrete answer—but I'm going share with you some of the foods that cause me these kinds of symptoms. Below, you'll find a list of healthy foods that can be hard to digest (I've thrown in one activity on the list, too). Some of the foods on this list are very unlikely suspects because they are healthy and natural; but I know for a fact, based on my own experience, that they are problematic for me.

Why Do I Get Heartburn and Indigestion?

Heartburn/Acid Reflux

When you swallow, the food is supposed to follow a certain path down your esophagus and into your stomach. A valve opens to allow the food to pass into your stomach. This valve should close once the food has passed. If this valve does not work properly, it may allow some stomach acid to enter your esophagus. This is called acid reflux, which can be painful. Acid reflux is synonymous with heartburn.


Indigestion is often a sign of an underlying problem, such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, or gallbladder disease, rather than a condition of its own.

Also called dyspepsia, indigestion is a term used to describe a feeling of fullness or discomfort during or after a meal. It can be accompanied by burning or pain in the upper stomach and any or all of these sensations:

  • Bloating (full feeling)
  • Belching and gas
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Acidic taste in mouth
  • Growling stomach
  • Burning in the stomach or upper abdomen
  • Abdominal pain

These symptoms may increase in times of stress.

People often have heartburn along with indigestion, but heartburn is caused by stomach acids rising into the esophagus while indigestion may be caused by one or many things.

You'll talk with your doctor about how to solve these issues. In the meantime, here's a list of some common and unexpected foods that may be triggering the symptoms.

Oatmeal or Porridge

It has been said that you should eat oatmeal to avoid heartburn, but for some people, oatmeal has the opposite effect.

Oatmeal gives me crazy heartburn! You wouldn't think of rolled oats as being something that can do this, but it can. Every time I eat oatmeal, it leaves me in writhing pain looking for an antacid immediately.


Raw onions can wreak havoc in the stomachs of certain people, when eaten both raw or cooked. I also noticed that onions, like oatmeal, also lower cholesterol. How ironic! Foods that are good for your body's health in one aspect, can be possibly damaging in another way!


Carrots are delicious and nutritious. They also give me indigestion. As I said, indigestion is not like heartburn because there is no burning sensation. It's more of a pain in the thorax (in between the middle of the collar bone and the top of the abs, right in the middle of the chest), whereas heartburn for me is usually in the bottom of my throat.

I only get indigestion form raw carrots. If they are steamed or stewed, I generally have no problems at all. It is still more than beneficial to eat cooked carrots as they hold most of their nutritional content even after being cooked through.


Yoga "downward dog" pose is an example of an exercise that could induce heartburn.
Yoga "downward dog" pose is an example of an exercise that could induce heartburn.

Yep. That's right. Your exercise routine can cause bad heartburn because some exercises reverse the flow of digestion, forcing stomach acid back into the esophagus. Examples are gymnastics moves (such as somersaults and forward rolls) and certain yoga moves (such as a downward dog) which may reverse the natural flow of your digestion, as do stomach exercises such as crunches.

In my opinion, it's best to work out not hungry nor full. A nice in-between is perfect to avoid gastrointestinal repercussions. This will help minimize the reflux issue should you be a yoga enthusiasts or an avid worker of your abs.

Make that bath with extra cocoa, please!
Make that bath with extra cocoa, please!

How to Prevent Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Here are some ways to prevent heartburn and acid reflux:

I apologize in advance for this. What's the #1 food to avoid when you're suffering from heartburn? Chocolate. (Again, my apologies.) The sweet, decadent treat deals heartburn sufferers a double doozy. It is nearly all fat, and it contains caffeine. But don't despair! May I make a suggestion? The "new age" chocolate bars still taste delicious, but are made with a significant boost of pure cocoa powder and less sugar. The bars are usually labeled with what percentage of the bar is pure cocoa. I wouldn't go any higher than 60%, or else it tastes like tree bark. Naturally, there is a benefit to a higher cocoa concentrate. Cocoa has tons of antioxidants, and helps lower blood pressure! It might take some getting used to, but you will probably end up enjoying these "uber cocoa" bars very much. Especially when you'll have a lot less heartburn!

Lighten up on the caffeine. Even though most people rely on a little bump for their daily grind, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and cola may irritate an already inflamed esophagus. Caffeine also relaxes the sphincter muscle. (Not good, by the way.)

Check your waistline. Compare your tummy to a tube of toothpaste. If you take the cap off and you squeeze the tube in the middle, something's going to come out of the top, right? A roll of fat around the belly squeezes the stomach the same way a hand would, but what comes up is nasty stomach acid. Maybe it's time to give your stomach a break?

Loosen your belt, buddy. Think again of the toothpaste analogy. If losing weight is not realistic for you at this time, you can get relief from heartburn simply by wearing suspenders instead of a belt.

Sugar and spice is not always nice. Chili peppers and their spicy cousins may seem like the most likely heartburn culprits, but they're not. Many heartburn sufferers can eat spicy foods without added pain. Then again, some can't. I won't be the one to tell you to stay away from spicy foods because they have a different impact on everyone, but I will remind you to pay attention to which ingredients cause your symptoms.

Be cautious about, but not afraid of, the citrus family. Acidic foods like oranges and lemons may seem like bad news, but the acid they contain is tiddly-winks compared to what your stomach produces. I suggest you go with your gut when you choose to eat these foods. (Get it? I'm hilarious!)

Heartburn-Fighting Myths

Have you heard you should drink milk when you have heartburn?

Well, it goes down smooth and cold, but the proteins and fats in milk actually stimulate stomach acids. Milk will help you for a short period of time, but the heartburn will be back to bite ya soon enough, possibly even worse than it was half an hour before. You've been warned!

What About You?

Which foods give you heartburn or indigestion?

See results

I want to thank you for reading, and I hope this has helped. Feel free to leave a comment below or make a suggestion!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      9 months ago

      I started having the issue with oatmeal about 15 years ago. I could eat oats in baked goods, but never as a cooked hot cereal. I experimented with various instant and regular, diff liquids and always the same..Heartburn. Then I discovered soaked oats. I made them with whole milk as well as nut milks and plain unsweetened yogurt all with no issues. The yogurt has become my go to mix, with blackberries. I now enjoy soaked oats for breakfast almost daily and never have heartburn.

    • bestcardiologistsingapore profile image

      EH Heart Specialist 

      17 months ago from Singapore

      great piece!

      By the way, a piece of advice to readers: Don't be mislead by Heartburn, it always can go worse and you may not know that it's angina symptoms already. Read more here: https://hubpages.com/health/Heartburn-or-Angina-Sy...

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      I never had heartburn in my life until three months ago I’m in my 50s all of a sudden out of nowhere got severe severe heartburn I went to the doctor he put me on medication one in the morning one in the evening nothing is helping it’s getting worse and worse it is affecting the quality of my life it’s not my weight that’s not an issue I don’t eat fast food that’s not the issue I don’t know what else to do i eat pretty healthy I don’t eat after 7 PM at night I’m going to try to raise the head of my bed any suggestions at all I would greatly appreciate. It feels like the food is in my throat and won’t go up and won’t go down it’s very painful and uncomfortable

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Lately all the good stuff makes me have symptoms. Chips, beer, cocktails, dairy, eggs, onions, condiments, fried anything, chocolate, wheat, coffee, and today I got an instant jab from oatmeal. Thus my google search finding you. Symptoms for months were all silent reflux with excess mucus in my throat, sore dry throat, throat feels like I have a lump, wheezing but now I do feel a burn in mid chest. GERD meds give me other issues so I try to handle all with diet but so far this is very restrictive and I am a fail. Going to start again with elimination diet. Arrrrrrgh!!!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Everything it seems to bother me. Nothing is worse. I have these symptoms all the time. No medications have helped yet.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Really good reading your post. some good sense. Thank you.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Oatmeal is very soothing for me. When nothing else works and I am in pain, I know I can rely on a nice bowl of oats, with butter.

      Wheat kills me, any kind. And bananas. And beans and rice. Red wine is particularly nasty. Oh, and sugar. Wah!

    • profile image

      Normand A 

      2 years ago

      Carbonated drinks soft or beer always. Usually 1/2 tsp of baking soda in a cup of water works well

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I raised the head of my bed on risers(doctors suggestion) my acid reflux has almost disappeared...has to do with gravity...bed looks and feels weird at first but you get used to it.

    • profile image

      Erlene Nielsen 

      2 years ago

      This was a great laugh and you are so right as it happens to all of us! I could

      Probably give up some of these things, but never the onions or absolutely not

      The Chocolate!!’

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I O.D. on pure orange juice when I was sick. Now I can't handle OJ, but I can drink lemonade. Go figure.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Allies! Who knew. I a man going to add dried apple bits to my oatmeal cookies. If that doesn't' work I'll try eating an apple later. A great tip for preventiong heartburn from oatmeal ( cookies! Ha.) Thanks Shelley, Texas

    • Kera Sage profile image

      Kera Sage 

      3 years ago from UK

      This evening I got mild heartburn and ingestion from eating porridge, (I'm trying to be healthy) so I took two ranitidine, which didn't seem to help. An hour later I tried Gaviscon. Omg! The agony! This is even worse than the porridge. How the flimflam can gaviscon exasperate heartburn?! This is the second time the supposedly cooling medicine has had the opposite effect on me. I'm at a complete loss now :-/

      On another note, recently, fried onions are a huge culprit for heartburn, yet raw are fine...go figure!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Oatmeal--and i thought I was crazy! Mashed potatoes and green Lima beans also hurt terribly when they first hit my stomach.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I cannot eat oatmeal without paying the price! I have to eat a Tums to stop the burping and burning. Is there maybe something I can add to it like a spice that can stop this.

      Trying to lose about 15 pounds and it helps me in that way, but ohhhhhhhhh!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I found this whole article excellent and it comfirm every thing I already knew and and forgot

    • Raederle Phoenix profile image

      Raederle Phoenix 

      5 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      Oatmeal gives me heartburn too. And meat. And pasteurized dairy (but not raw milk). And garlic and onions and hot peppers. And anything with gluten. And quinoa. And amaranth and t'eff. And sweet potatoes and potatoes. And rice.

      I finally just figured out I needed to eat all raw foods to stop getting heart burn.

    • profile image

      Shelley, TX 

      6 years ago

      I get heartburn with anything that has oats in it and with cucumbers! But, a sure fire, QUICK way to get rid of it....eat an apple!!! It soaks up the acid quickly! My uncle taught me this, he eats one every night before bed!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Me and my husband both have the problem with oats. It's the only thing that gives me heartburn. He has a chronic problem with heartburn and had to take PPI every day and even with that he will still get heartburn after he eats oats. Probiotic drinks also give me horrendous gut ache too. Would be fascinated to know why since they're meant to make things better....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have sever heartburn. Waking up in the middle of the night ready to vomit and chocking on the acid but never do. It just stays in the top of my esophagus burning ready to come up, but never does!! I HATE IT. And by the way when I don't have over the counter medications such at the tablets I drink half a glass of milk and it works instantly. And I sleep good all night. I guess everyone is different :) :( I need more answers.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I found this article by googling "why does oatmeal give me indigestion". Ugh.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oatmeal is a problem for me too! It's too bad also because it was part of my new weight control regiment. But this acid reflux ain't worth it!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thankyou so much, I can't eat carrots, bell peppers and onions at all - no matter how thoroughly I cook them. Would like your confirmation if feelings of vertigo and dizziness are normal, a well writing abdominal pain

    • ausis profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      I have the very same thing with rolled oats I also have the problem sometimes with pizza I believe it's due to the dough not being cooked properly I get the problem with baked potatoes but not boiled or fried, yet I have a tablespoon of vinegar no problems. I do find the milk does help but as a one to one skim and full cream blend otherwise the fat causes the burn to flare again. Thanks for sharing this useful info


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, youmemindbody.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)