Sunday 7:30 P.M. ¡Oye, Mami, que sabroso! It’s so wonderful being at Mami’s house, and her cooking is the best. Savory black beans, Spanish chicken and rice, fried platanos, her marvelous adobo of pork, and rich creamy flan for dessert. Papi and I eat until we’re ready to burst.
11:30 PM ¡Oye, Mami, ayúdame! Mi estomago, el dolor, el reflujo ácido… It always happens just after we lie down to go to sleep. Searing pain that feels like a heart attack and the burning acid that erupts into our throats without warning.
Sound familiar? Latino cooking is no stranger to heartburn and acid reflux. In fact, Hispanic men especially are at a higher risk of the problem than many others. And it’s serious, because persistent acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), left untreated can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is associated with esophageal cancer, one of the fast growing cancers in America.
But is the food really to blame? Our new book The Acid Reflux Solution: A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally (Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD, and Susan Wyler, RD) says “Yes” and “No.” Dr. Jorge, who you may have seen on the The View and The Doctors, is of Cuban heritage so he knows well the delights and down sides of Mami’s cooking.
Here’s the good news first: It is most likely the amount of food you eat rather than what you eat that is the primary factor. Stuffing too much down too fast does now allow time for proper digestion, increasing the production of stomach acid and putting pressure on the muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus. Eating less and eating properly as discussed in the book can greatly reduce acid reflux. Think you can resist seconds next time? Or at least refuse thirds?
The not so good news is that yes, if Mami is cooking the old-fashioned way with fatty meats, lard, and lots of frying, the food itself is contributing to the heartburn, because fat is digested slowly and can cause a back-up in the system. What The Acid Reflux Solution offers are contemporary takes on Mami’s best, which lighten the load and let you enjoy the traditional flavors while avoiding the heartburn. They are also easier and faster.