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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top 10 Food Mistakes - #9

mint candies//(© Alice Edward/Getty Images)

Food Mistake #9: You have an after-dinner mint instead of dessert
The cooling taste of mint may sound like just the thing after a heavy meal, but it could spell trouble. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, mints are high on the list of foods that can cause heartburn, the telltale burning in the lower chest that occurs when juices from the stomach creep up into the esophagus. Mint seems to relax the muscle that keeps the valve at the top of the stomach clamped down, increasing the odds of reflux. Other surprising culprits: caffeine-containing food and beverages, such as chocolate, soda, and coffee.

fruit for dessert//(© Owen Franken/Corbis)

Smarter Move
Skip the mints (and the Mississippi mud cake and cappuccino) and have a piece of fruit instead. If you're prone to heartburn, drink a tall glass of water after meals to flush out the esophagus. And then take a stroll. Walking keeps you upright and enlists gravity to keep acids from splashing up the esophagus. And it can help in another important way: "Being overweight increases the risk of reflux," says gastroenterologist Hashem El-Serag, MD, a heartburn expert at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Getting into the habit of walking after a meal could help you keep the pounds off—and lower the risk of heartburn.

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