Mangoes & Heartburn

At some point in their life, most people experience acid reflux, more commonly known as heartburn. But for some, reflux is a common occurrence that causes significant discomfort. If chronic and untreated, reflux heightens your risk for more serious conditions, including Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. How mango affects reflux depends on various factors, including your vulnerability to reflux and the acidity of the mango.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when digestive fluid backs up past the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, into your esophagus. The LES, a muscle that sits atop your stomach, loosens to allow food to empty from your esophagus into your stomach. Normally the LES tightens to prevent the contents of your stomach from passing back up into the esophagus, but when it malfunctions, food, enzymes and acid can flow back up. When this happens, you feel a burning pain in your chest or abdomen, sometimes radiating into the back. Bloating and belching are common. Chronic reflux often is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Risk Factors

You are more likely to experience reflux after fatty, spicy, acidic or large meals. Consuming alcohol or smoking can make reflux worse. A tendency to overeat can place chronic stress on the LES. Also, laying down, bending or applying pressure on the stomach after eating can push the stomach contents up toward the LES.

Acidic Versus Alkaloid Foods

Certain foods can contribute to the acid content of your stomach. All foods can be rated in terms of their pH, which stands for potential hydrogen. Foods with a low pH have a low potential to attract hydrogen ions. The pH of a food can vary from zero to 14. A pH below 7 is considered acidic, while a pH over 7 is considered alkaloid or basic. Foods that are acidic, with a pH below 7, can temporarily increase the acidity of the contents in your stomach.

Mango pH

Different varieties of mangoes vary in their pH, but they tend to be acidic. Also, mangoes vary in their acidity depending on how ripe they are and how they were ripened. A study published in the November 2007 "African Journal of Biotechnology" reports that the Dodo mango shifted in pH from 2.31 to 4.64 as it ripened. The study examined four different off-vine ripening methods and found that the different ripening methods produced significant differences in the sugar and acid content of the mango.

Individual Differences

People respond differently to different foods, so mangoes might trigger reflux in some reflux-prone people but not in others. Mangoes contain several potent antioxidants, including dehydroascorbic acid, carotenoids and ascorbic acid, according to the January 2007 "Plant Foods for Human Nutrition," so they promote anti-inflammatory immune processes than can sooth inflammation associated with GERD. To determine if mango triggers reflux in you, keep a food journal and monitor your reactions. If you are sensitive to the acid in mango, then avoid it or neutralize it by eating other more alkaline foods such as bananas, green vegetables, spinach, lettuce, melons and celery.

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