Chest pain after eating pizza?

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High fat content and spicy ingredients can make chest pain after eating pizza worse.
High fat content and spicy ingredients can make chest pain after eating pizza worse.

While pizza can be delicious, you don’t want it to make you burp, bloat, or experience chest pain and other uncomfortable symptoms after eating it.

A slice of pizza sounds right but you’re also concerned about what will be the consequences of this indulgence? Well, pizza contains many calories that are high in fat and acid too. Let’s look at how chest pain from eating pizza occurs.

What health problems can pizza cause?

Many people don’t think of pizza as a healthy food. However, not many of us know how unhealthy this food is, especially when eaten often.

A pizza is packed with high calories and fat which can make you overweight, resulting in obesity, which causes other chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.

People with high blood pressure might also want to avoid pizza, because of the high sodium content or look for a low-sodium pizza recipe.

Pizza also contains sugar, although not too much. And sugar can cause weight gain, increased triglycerides, tooth decay, and increases one’s risk of heart diseases.

Additionally, a pizza is usually made from refined flour that has no value to our health, instead, it increases belly fat.

Furthermore, cheese can raise levels of bad cholesterol in our bodies, putting us at risk of heart diseases. However, there are studies that debat that.

How does pizza cause chest pain?

PIzzas usually contain a lot of cheese, refined flour, fat, salt, sugar, spices, and depending on the toppings, tomatoes, different kinds of meat, etc. Most of these ingredients are either hard to digest or prone to cause acidity or both.

It is also very easy to eat too much from pizza, which can further amplify the problem.

Therefore pizza can put a lot of pressure on your digestive system. More often than not our bodies can handle this, but sometimes pizza might cause indigestion to most of us.

Occasional, light stomach or chest problems can be perfectly normal, especially after eating too much pizza. However, if pizza is causing you regular discomfort, chances are there is an underlying condition that should be diagnosed.

These are the most common health problems that can cause stomach or chest pain after eating pizza:

  • gallbladder disease
  • acid reflux, heartburn
  • pancreatitis
  • allergic reactions
  • overeating

Pizza and gallbladder problems

The gallbladder helps in the digestion of fat. Greasy foods like pizza often strain one’s digestive system.

That’s because fat is the slowest digested food, which means it needs extra digestive juices and enzymes for digestion and this strains the body more than usual, resulting in chest or stomach pain.

Consuming too much fat makes your gallbladder work harder, which might be too much for people with existing gallbladder problems.

In such cases, both the inflammation of the gallbladder and gallstones can cause sharp pain in the upper right or center of the stomach. The pain can even radiate to the back. Further symptoms can be fever, vomiting, nausea.

If you are experiencing such symptoms, you need to consult with your doctor. If the pain is very severe, you might need emergency medical help.

Can pizza cause heartburn?

Pizza contains cheese, refined flour, meat, and sauce, all of which affect the stomach and cause acidity. In fact, people with acid reflux or GERD are often advised to stay away from pizza.

Eating too much, especially when the food contains too much fat, can slow down your digestion and the content of your stomach might flow back to the esophagus. This is called heartburn, which is a common symptom of acid reflux.

If you suffer from acid reflux, don’t replace your lunch or dinner with pizza, have it as a snack and not a meal.

If you experience chest pain after eating pizza, you should consult with a doctor. But in the meantime, you should chew thoroughly and slowly to make it easier for the food to be digested. Also, eat less pizza and go for vegetable ones.

Spicy ingredients and especially tomato are also prone to cause stomach problems.

Pizza and pancreatitis

The pancreas also plays an important role in the digestion process. Its enzymes help to digest protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Eating too much of these ingredients with existing pancreas problems, like pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas, can cause you similar symptoms as gallbladder problems.

Pizza and allergic reactions

There is a wide variety of foods people can be allergic to and there is a wide variety of toppings used on pizzas. So it is quite possible that some people have allergic reactions after eating pizza.

The hard part is to tell which ingredient causes allergy. You probably shouldn’t experiment trying to find this out, but visit an allergologist instead, who can identify the problem.

Allergic reactions are not caused by the digestive system, they are abnormal reactions from the immune system to certain types of foods.

Food allergic can have very mild symptoms, like runny nose, itchy eyes. Sometimes it can cause more unpleasant symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea.

In some cases, food allergy can lead to anaphylaxis. Commons symptoms are breathing difficulties, fast heartbeat, dizziness or fainting. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention!

What to do if you cannot eat pizza?

Although it is best that you avoid this food if it makes your stomach or chest hurt, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to eat it again. The key is eating in moderation, eating too much of any food can also cause chest pain and it’s especially easy to overeat when you are eating a pizza.

If you’re craving a pizza, a slice or two should be enough. However, if eating it activates your reflux symptoms, you can try other healthier alternatives such as snacking on healthy fruits that don’t cause reflux or other digestive problems, like bananas, pawpaw, etc., or a drink like a yogurt, or buttermilk.

Note that acid reflux will be different for different people. That means that what activates symptoms will vary from person to person. The best thing to do is to keep a food diary. This way, you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t.

Final thoughts

Pizzas contain a lot of ingredients that make your digestion system work very hard. This can be a problem to some people, as they are regularly experiencing chest or stomach pain after eating pizzas.

If you are one such people and don’t know why pizza is causing you regular chest pains, you should ask a diagnosis from your doctor. You might be asked to visit a gastroenteorologist.

There are a number of healthy pizza recipes, that are low in fat, sugar, salt, contain mostly easy-to-digest ingredients. If eating pizza makes your chest or stomach hurt, you might one to give them a try.

Frequently asked questions

What type of pizza can I eat if I have acid reflux?

Try to reduce the greasy, sugary and spicy ingredients. Choose ones with little or low fat meat and cheese, whole grain crust, also no or very little tomato.

Also remember to only eat a slice or two, eating too much can increase your reflux symptoms.

There are a lot of anti-acid pizza recipes out there (like this one or this one, this is a list of reflux friendly pizzas), try some of them and see which one you like best.

Can I have acid reflux issues days after eating pizza?

This can happen, unfortunately, but it might not be the pizza causing the issue. In such cases you can try an over the counter H2-blocker.

You should also visit your doctor or book an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

Does pizza make you fat?

Most pizzas that you can buy in the supermarket can make you fat.

However, pizzas made with healthier ingredients, like whole grain, vegetables, are not only less likely to make you gain weight, but they are also easier to digest.

Can I eat pizza with high cholesterol?

The very same types of pizzas that make you fat can increase cholesterol levels.

Whole grain pizzas with vegetables have low fat and high fiber content, which should be safe even for people with high cholesterol levels.