Can Meat Cause Chest Pain After Eating?

Slice of red meat
Meat, especially red meat, might cause chest pain after eating.

Reflux symptoms – like chest or stomach pain, excessive burping, heartburn – are triggered when stomach acid flows into the esophagus. This causes pain and irritation.

If you have too much acid, eliminating some foods from your diet might help control acid reflux symptoms.

There have been many debates about acid reflux and meat. While there’s no concrete evidence, some types of meat have shown to worsen acid reflux symptomns in some people.

Therefore, reducing the amount of meat in your diet might help alleviate reflux.

But, note that reflux is different for everyone. Thus, what works for one may not work for another person.

How meat causes chest pain after eating?

Our bodies have a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle prevents acid from escaping our stomachs into the esophagus. It’s ring-like and naturally remains closed unless when we swallow or belch.

However for people with acid reflux the LES is weakened. The weakened muscle allows acid to flow from the stomach into the esophagus.

This worsens when one takes meats especially red meat like beef, pork, etc.

These meats contain high-fat content that may help relax the lower esophageal sphincter. When this happens, acid can easily escape from the stomach into your esophagus resulting in reflux symptoms.

Additionally, the high-fat content in meat promotes the release of cholecystokinin which is a hormone that encourages the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which causes reflux.

Additionally, this hormone encourages meat and other foods to stay in the stomach for an extended period, increasing the risk of acid reflux.

Beef vs. Chicken or Fish

Red meat like beef is discouraged, especially for people with reflux, since it contains high amounts of fat that sit in your stomach for a long time.

This causes it to stretch hence increasing pressure on the LES that prevents stomach acid from flowing into your esophagus.

As a result, your stomach produces more acid which irritates your digestive system and affects your lower esophageal sphincter.

If you have too much acid in your stomach, you’re likely to have stomach contents go back into your throat.

It’s why doctors recommend lean proteins like fish, shellfish, beans, game meat, and poultry for people with acid reflux.

Chicken, fish, and other lean meats may help reduce acid reflux symptoms. Since they’re low in fat, they are easily digestible.

However, we advise that you eat them baked, poached, or broiled. Also, ensure that you choose chicken cuts without skin and never pan fry or deep fry your meat.

Additionally, choose lean fatty fish and avoid consuming them fried or deep-fried.

What to eat instead of meat?

Well, you can of course eat meat if you want to, but consider limiting the amount and try to eat meats with lower fat content.

Eating too much is also a common cause of chest or stomach pain. If you eat too much of a food with high fat content, this can get even worse.

However, there are other good protein sources apart from meat that individuals can try. If you’ve cut or eliminated meat from your diet, consider these options;

  • Healthy fats from olive oil, walnuts, etc.
  • Egg whites but stay away from egg yolks since they’re high in fat
  • Seafood and turkey

Other factors that can help alleviate reflux are:

  • Losing weight
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Eating in responsible portions and slowly
  • Reducing stress
  • Walking after meals

Final Thoughts

A good thing to consider for people with acid reflux is to cut back their intake of meat in general.

Try eating it only two or three times a week. You can also opt for beans, nuts, and soy to compensate for the lost protein.

But, because nuts have high-fat content, eat only small portions. A handful or two is enough but first read the label.