If you thought that the only negative effect of sugary desserts was on your waistline, then think again. Your favorite cheesecake could also be the reason you experience so much heartburn. If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is a particularly unpleasant experience that usually comes on at night. You lie down in bed, close your eyes, and then a few minutes later, get this irritating burning sensation of the top of your stomach.
Why Does Sugar Cause Acid Problems?
What’s going on here is actually quite interesting. Researchers think that the western diet causes the sphincter at the top of the stomach to push upwards through the diaphragm so that it sticks out, a bit like a periscope. When this happens, acid from the stomach is about to pool around the top of the sphincter and even move above it and into the esophagus.
This process creates a burning sensation because this part of the digestive tract doesn’t produce mucus to protect itself. The acid comes up from below and starts to burn it, causing pain, especially when you lie down.
Research has shown that people are more likely to experience this sensation when they eat particular types of food, mainly sugary desserts. Stuffing your face with cheesecake is more likely than anything else to have you reaching for the esomeprazole tablets.
The reason for this comes down to the chemical properties of sugar. It turns out that the body has to produce more acid to digest sugar than regular starches or other types of food. If your stomach has pushed up through your diaphragm, this then creates the ideal conditions for acid to make it way up from the stomach and come into contact with unprotected areas.
The Long-Term Cause Of Stomach Acid Problems
In the long-term, though, the solution to these kinds of problems is to base your diet around whole foods. Researchers believe that the reason the stomach starts to push up through the diaphragm comes down to intra-abdominal pressure. Excess forces from straining in the stomach cavity when processing a low-fiber diet cause it to pop out in different directions. And that, fundamentally, is the reason the position of the stomach sphincter changes.
When you look at populations eating whole food diets, you find that the top of the stomach is either level with the diaphragm or below it. Interestingly, these traditional societies don’t have epidemics of heartburn or other diseases associated with the digestive tract. For the most part, their stomachs and bowels are healthy. You don’t see conditions like constipation, diverticular disease or irritable bowel. Colon cancer rates are also low.
Eating sugary desserts, therefore, could be getting in the way of having a higher quality of life. Although they provide an intense feeling of pleasure while you eat them, they can make your life a misery afterward. The same goes for other foods with high refined sugar content, such as fizzy drinks or pastries. You’re better off eating these foods occasionally instead of every day, and getting your sweet kicks from fruit whenever you can.