Fat worsens heartburn without raising acid level

October 23, 2001 in Gastrointestinal Health, Healthy Eating

Fat worsens heartburn without raising acid level

People who suffer from heartburn are often told to limit their intake of fat, which can exacerbate their condition. But according to new research from the University of California, Los Angeles, high-fat meals do not actually increase levels of acid in the stomach. Rather, they intensify the sensation of heartburn through another mechanism that is not yet clear. Heartburn, also known as reflux, is a painful sensation that occurs in the chest when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus.

The study authors suggest that nerves in the small intestine may release signals in response to fatty acids, and that these signals may alter a person's threshold for pain and discomfort.

Higher acid levels overall hastened the start and intensity of symptoms but fat appeared to increase the speed and severity of heartburn symptoms even more. Decreasing the intake of any kind of fat should benefit many patients who experience heartburn.

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