Burning in your esophagus usually derives from acid reflux, which happens when stomach acid moves up into your esophagus after you eat, causing a burning sensation and often discomfort in your chest or upper-abdomen known as heartburn. In addition to any necessary medical treatment, lifestyle measures, such as quitting smoking, managing your weight and eating a low-fat diet, can help alleviate your symptoms. While the link between obesity and chronic acid reflux is only partly understood, according to a 2011 "Nature Reviews: Gastroenterology and Hepatology" report, added pounds could add pressure to your esophagus, making symptoms more likely. Replace foods that can trigger or worsen irritation with safer alternatives.
Fruits and Vegetables
If you're prone to acid reflux, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends amping up your fruit and vegetable intake. The antioxidants they provide could help reduce your symptoms. However, avoid items that could increase throat pain, such as tomato products and citrus fruits and juices, focusing instead on less-acidic alternatives, such as blueberries, squash and bell peppers. As valuable vitamin B sources, dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, may also improve your symptoms. Eating more fruits and vegetables, which are low-calorie fiber sources, can also help you manage your weight, lowering your risk for future flare-ups.
Whole grains haven't lost vital nutrient content during processing. As a result, they provide more nutrients, including B vitamins and fiber, than refined grains do. Whole grains fit well within a diet aimed at managing acid reflux and heartburn, says the McKinley Health Center. As naturally low-fat foods, they provide nutritious alternatives to fatty, low-nutrient foods, such as potato chips and nachos. Start your day with a serving of whole-grain cereal topped with low-fat milk and berries instead of a high-fat omelet with hash browns, and snack on air-popped popcorn instead of chips. Other nutritious whole grains include quinoa, brown rice, oats and barley.
Lean Protein Sources
Protein is an important part of any healthy diet, but fatty sources could relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for stomach acid to regurgitate. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends avoiding fatty foods, including high-fat meats and whole milk, for improved symptoms. Nutritious, lean-protein sources include fish, skinless white-meat poultry, tofu and legumes, such as beans and lentils. Choose healthy cooking methods, such as grilling, baking and poaching.
Healthy Fat Sources
Saturated fats, prevalent in fatty animal products, and trans fats, found in many commercially prepared baked goods, stick margarines and fried foods, can increase inflammation, making esophageal pain worse. Choose healthy fat sources such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados instead. Fatty fish, including salmon, herring and mackerel, and flaxseeds provide rich amounts of omega-3 fats -- healthy fats that can help lower inflammation.
Safe Seasonings and Sauces
Spicy sauces and seasoning, such as pepper and mint, could aggravate esophageal burning. Instead, add flavor to your meals with milder ingredients, such as soup broth, mild herbs such as oregano or modest amounts of peanut butter. You can also add cooked or canned and peeled fruits to dishes. Bake chicken breasts with skinless pears, for example, or heat a bit of nut butter with teriyaki sauce for a simple satay sauce. You can also use creamy sauces prepared with low-fat milk.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Adults
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- McKinley Health Center: The GERD Diet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People Manage Their Weight?
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Nature Reviews: Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Influence of Obesity on the Risk for Esophageal Disorders: Obesity and GERD
- MedlinePlus: Bland Diet