• By Jeff Olsen

Mayo Clinic Minute: Timing snacks to avoid heartburn

November 23, 2017

While it may be tempting to have another round of Thanksgiving leftovers – or any snack – before you turn in tonight, you may regret it.

The old saying “timing is everything” is definitely true for your eating and sleeping routines. And Dr. Joseph Murray, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, says evening snacking can increase the chance for heartburn and a restless night.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:58) is in the downloads. Read the script.

There’s a physical reason why you should stop eating three hours before bedtime.

"Our digestion is meant to be carried out in a more upright position," says Dr. Murray.

He says late-night snacks can be a recipe for reflux.

"You fill your stomach with food. It starts producing a lot of acid," explains Dr. Murray. "Now you’ve got a big bag of food and acid that’s sitting there. You go lay down, and you no longer have gravity to keep that food and acid down. It comes up your esophagus, giving you reflux."

Dr. Murray says some foods are more likely than others to contribute to it.

"High-fat foods, because they’ll sit in your stomach much, much longer," says Dr. Murray.

Tomato-based items, onions, spices and chocolate can also cause heartburn. So can alcohol.

And, Dr. Murray cautions, even if you avoid these heartburn triggers, remember that digestion is meant to be going on while you are awake.

“Eating right before bed is not a good idea," adds Dr. Murray.

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