We all like chocolate, however some people often experience a sharp pain in the chest or excessive burping after eating chocolate. Two of the most common reasons for this is lactose intolerance and acid reflux.
Acid reflux – also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – is a condition that causes a backward flow of acid into one’s esophagus. These acids thus cause unpleasant heartburn or the esophagus to hurt.
Statistics say that many people experience acid reflux. However, if it happens more than twice a week you may have GERD which can cause serious health complications, if not treated.
Often reflux results from food that one eats and chocolates are among the foods that you probably shouldn’t eat if you have reflzx. Many people experience chest pain after eating sugary foods, like chocolate.
What health problems can chocolate cause?
Eating too much chocolate can increase a person’s calorie intake which can lead to weight gain and obesity which increases their risk of cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and dyslipidemia or diabetes.
Eating large quantities can result in side effects related to caffeine such as sleeplessness, nervousness, palpitations and increased urination.
Research also says that cocoa in chocolate can trigger migraine headaches, skin reactions and constipation.
Studies also claim that chocolate can cause heartburn, one of the symptoms of acid reflux. A study by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy found that chocolates reduce esophageal sphincter pressure, and this change may make a person vulnerable to heartburn.
In fact, many diets suggest avoiding chocolate as one way of preventing reflux symptoms.
To sum up, chocolate contains a number of ingredients that might cause chest pain after eating:
If you are experiencing reflux symptoms – like heartburn, excessive burping, chest pain – after eating chocolate, try to limit the amount you eat, maybe try different types of chocolates to see if your symptoms worsen or get better.
How does chocolate cause chest pain?
Chocolate contains cocoa powder which can be acidic. Therefore, for those who have GERD, this can cause their symptoms to increase.
Note that intestinal cells relax the esophageal sphincter, however, a high intake of cocoa can cause these cells to release a significant amount of serotonin. Thus, when the sphincter muscle relaxes it causes the gastric contents to rise leading to a burning sensation in your esophagus.
Additionally, caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can also increase acid reflux symptoms.
What to do if you cannot eat chocolate?
Chocolate is best when consumed with moderation. However, if it worsens your acid reflux symptoms, it may be best that you avoid completely eating it.
Fortunately, there are many healthy alternatives that’ll help you conquer your chocolate cravings. They include fruits like bananas and pawpaw, yogurts and nuts.
One can also replicate the chocolate flavor by trying cocoa powder. Add enough quantity of it into milk, yogurt, coffee, shakes, cottage cheese or smoothies and enjoy the rich chocolatey goodness without extra calories, fat and sugar.
Treatment options for GERD
Well, lifestyle and dietary changes can not only help one manage acid reflux symptoms, but the right diet might completely eliminate the unpleasant symptoms.
In more serious cases you might need over-the-counter medicines like antacids and if all else fails, a reflux surgery can help.
Many doctors discourage patients with acid reflux from eating chocolates. However, as with any other condition, GERD will be unique to you. This means that what triggers and improves acid reflux will vary from person to person.
You can experiment with eating chocolate in moderation, record how you feel after eating then determine whether or not it worsens your acid reflux symptoms.
Frequently asked questions
Should I avoid both milk and dark chocolates if I have acid reflux?
Milk chocolate tends to contain more fat and sugar, dark chocolate contains more cocoa. Since both fat, sugar and cocoa can cause reflux and everybody reacts a bit differently to the food we eat, all we can say is that you might want to try both and see if they cause you any symptoms.
Can I eat chocolate after a heart attack?
Many research shows that a small amount of chocolate is beneficial for your heart because of its flavonoid content. Just make sure you eat dark chocolate, as it contains more flavonoids.
Can too much chocolate cause stomach pain?
Even if you don’t have reflux, too much chocolate can cause some discomfort. One reason for that might be milk allergy. Too much fat, sugar or corn syrup might also be a problem.
Try to limit the amount of chocolate you eat and if the problem persists you might want to consult with a doctor to find out if it’s food allergy or reflux or some other problem.