Do you love hot dogs and want to know whether you can enjoy them despite suffering from acid reflux?
In today’s article, you’ll explore acid reflux, its causes, and what makes it worse. You’ll know why hot dogs are not recommended for people with acid reflux and describe the specific ingredients in hot dogs that can make symptoms worse. You’ll also get valuable tips to help you enjoy hot dogs occasionally without triggering acid reflux.
You’ll learn all about GERD with me (who has been a GERD sufferer for 10 years and has learnt to manage it by learning about dietary choices and a holistic lifestyle).
Read on to learn how to enjoy your favorite treat sensibly while managing acid reflux effectively.
Let’s Begin By Understanding What’s Acid Reflux or GERD.
Acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD occurs when stomach acid goes back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This causes a burning feeling in your chest and throat. It happens when a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which acts like a door between your esophagus and stomach, doesn’t work properly and lets the acid flow back up.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux (lower esophageal sphincter dysfunction) is thought to be caused by a combination of factors that prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from closing properly.
Some of these directly weaken or interrupt the LES or indirectly aggravate the already existing condition of a weak lower esophageal sphincter.
Primary Causes of Acid Reflux
1. Low Stomach Acid
If you have low stomach acid, your LES might not close properly in many ways:
- Low stomach acid weakens the LES, causing acid reflux (GERD).
- Low stomach acid can stop the LES from closing properly because acid helps activate this muscle.
- Also, it can lead to bacterial overgrowth, damaging the LES.
- Low stomach acid reduces the production of a digestive enzyme called pepsin, allowing food to stay in the stomach longer and putting pressure on the LES, making it more likely to open.
- Besides this, low stomach acid can cause the release of a muscle-relaxing gas called nitric oxide (NO), leading to acid reflux.
Low stomach acid is usually caused due to diet, medications, or nutritional deficiencies (like vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, or iron). A proper diagnosis can help you know the cause behind low stomach acid and GERD.
2. Depression, Anxiety and Stress (Acute or Chronic)
Depression, anxiety, and stress can cause GERD. These conditions (acute or chronic) make the body release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle. Weakened muscle prevents proper closure after eating, leading to acid reflux.
Studies also show that stress chemicals increase stomach acid and cause esophageal inflammation, worsening reflux. Relaxation techniques are vital to manage stress and reduce these symptoms, promoting better LES function and minimizing acid reflux discomfort.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and iron play crucial roles in preventing acid reflux.
- Calcium strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, ensuring it functions properly.
- Vitamin D deficiency, which interrupts calcium functioning, has also been shown to weaken LES.
- Vitamin B12 aids in producing stomach acid, which is necessary for digestion, but its deficiency can lead to LES relaxation, allowing acid backflow.
- Vitamin C maintains LES strength and prevents it from esophageal cancer. Thus, it helps in strengthening the LES and preventing acid reflux.
- Magnesium deficiency can also lead to acid reflux indirectly.
Maintaining a balanced diet, checking your nutritional level, and making up for the deficiencies in these nutrients can help prevent acid reflux problems.
Other Reasons for Acid Reflux or GERD
- Delayed stomach emptying, known as gastroparesis, may cause GERD
- Hiatal Hernia pushes the stomach through the diaphragm, which weakens the LES. It causes heartburn and reflux symptoms.
- Pregnancy and associated conditions like hormonal changes and uterine pressure
- Certain medications like antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, and asthma drugs
- Obesity increases stomach and LES pressure and leads to acid reflux symptoms.
- Diet and lifestyle choices like large, fatty, spicy meals, along with smoking and excessive alcohol
In short, acid reflux stems from diverse factors. You can enjoy a blessed life through accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment, enhancing overall well-being.
Can you Eat Hot Dogs with Acid Reflux?
No, it’s best to avoid hot dogs if you have ongoing acid reflux. Hot dogs are processed meats that are high in fat and can be difficult to digest. Fatty foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus and worsen reflux symptoms.
Opt for a diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to help manage acid reflux effectively. If you have occasional symptoms, moderation is key; however, for persistent acid reflux, consulting a healthcare provider for dietary guidance is advisable.
Why Shouldn’t You Eat Hot Dogs with Acid Reflux?
The ingredients… Yes, hot dogs are not as bad if they only have low fat, less sodium, and no addictive. But, most hot dogs are not as healthy and good for the digestive system, owing to ingredients that include:
- Mechanically Separated Meat
- Corn Syrup
- Sodium Nitrite
Not all ingredients in hot dogs may aggravate GERD symptoms, yet a few ingredients and their content may worsen the symptoms, such as:
High Fat Meat
One hot dog may have about 16 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein. This high-fat red meat in hot dogs usually has long-chain fatty acids in the form of saturated fats. These long-chain fatty acids may aggravate acid reflux symptoms by relaxing LSE. It can lead to heartburn and discomfort, especially for acid reflux patients.
Corn Syrup and Dextrose
Corn syrup and dextrose are types of sugar often used as sweeteners in processed foods, including hot dogs. These sugars can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly, leading to the release of hormones that relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) :
Additionally, sugary substances can ferment in the stomach, leading to bloating and increased pressure, making acid reflux more likely.
Sodium nitrite is a preservative and color fixative used in processed meats like hot dogs. However, clinically, it’s used for achalasia (relaxation of the lower LES). So, consuming it while suffering from GERD can potentially increase acid reflux symptoms.
Moreover, when nitrites combine with stomach acid, they can form compounds known as nitrosamines. These compounds have been found to increase the risk of certain cancers and might worsen acid reflux-related inflammation.
For those prone to acid reflux, limiting regular hot dog consumption is wise to ease discomfort. However, you may have them occasionally with some caution.
How Can You Eat Hot Dogs with Acid Reflux Occasionally?
Eating hot dogs with GERD is not advisable; yet, sometimes, you can indulge in the guilty treat by following a few tips.
Choose a Lean Hot Dog.
Fatty hot dogs are more likely to trigger acid reflux. Look for a hot dog made from lean meat, such as turkey or chicken.
Grill or Bake it.
Grill or bake your hot dog instead of frying it. Frying adds fat and calories to your hot dog, worsening acid reflux.
Whole Grain Buns
Use whole grain or whole wheat buns instead of white ones. Whole grains are easier to digest and may help reduce acid reflux symptoms.
Avoid Triggering Toppings
Instead of spicy toppings like ketchup and mustard, try topping your hot dog with sauerkraut, onions, or relish. These toppings are lower in fat and calories and may even help reduce acid reflux symptoms.
Don’t overindulge. Eating smaller portions reduces the risk of overloading your stomach, which can trigger acid reflux.
Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Proper chewing aids digestion and can reduce the likelihood of acid reflux.
Avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol, as they can increase stomach acid production. Opt for water or non-citrus herbal teas.
Time it Right
Enjoy your hot dog earlier in the day rather than at night. Nighttime eating is more likely to cause acid reflux symptoms.
Avoid lying down immediately after eating. Stay upright for at least 2-3 hours to allow your stomach to digest the food properly.
Stress can exacerbate acid reflux. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to keep stress levels in check.
Consult a Doctor
If you find that you still suffer from acid reflux even with these precautions, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice and may recommend over-the-counter antacids or prescription medications to manage your symptoms.
Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently, so it’s important to pay attention to how your body responds and adjust your diet accordingly.
Managing acid reflux involves understanding its triggers and making informed dietary choices. Due to their high-fat content and certain additives, hot dogs can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms. Limiting hot dog consumption is best; occasional indulgence is possible with careful choices.
Understanding the causes of your GERD and getting them fixed permanently is the life-long solution. Yet, by adopting strategies shared in this article, you can enjoy occasional treats sensibly.