8 Easy Ways to Avoid Heartburn
Acid reflux occurs when acid leaks into the esophagus, resulting in a burning sensation in the chest. This is commonly known as heartburn. Most adults experience it occasionally. There are a few simple tricks to avoid heartburn, so you don’t have to suffer the discomfort.
1. Eat more fiber
Eating fiber-rich foods helps prevent heartburn in a couple of different ways. Fiber improves gastric motility, meaning your food moves more quickly through your digestive tract. When you do not eat enough fiber, your food spends more time in your stomach and more acid is produced. This is known as delayed gastric emptying. Fiber may also absorb acid and help you feel fuller sooner, so you don’t overeat. Foods that are high in fiber include whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
2. Eat smaller meals
Large meals put pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES closes off your esophagus where it enters your stomach. When there is additional pressure on it, acid can leak up into your esophagus. Small meals prevent this from happening. It’s even better if the smaller meals contain a lot of fiber.
3. Don’t lay down right after a meal
Your stomach contains the most acid right after you eat. By sitting upright or standing, gravity works in your favor to keep acid out of your esophagus. While it is tempting to take a nap or go to bed right after a late-night meal, doing so will often lead to heartburn. When you are lying down, there is more pressure on your LES combined with additional acid in the stomach.
4. Avoid foods and drinks that cause heartburn
There are several foods that are known to cause heartburn. The main culprits are chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, spicy foods, garlic, and onions. Also, acidic foods and drinks like tomatoes, citrus fruit, and citrus juices can lead to heartburn. Coffee and sodas can relax the LES and allow more acid to leak into the esophagus. Alcohol can cause heartburn, too. Avoiding these foods and drinks is helpful in preventing heartburn.
5. Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your left side can help you avoid heartburn, especially if you do need to nap or go to sleep after a meal. Because of the way the stomach is shaped, lying on the left lets gravity do the work of keeping acid out of your esophagus. Another option is to elevate the head of your bed so that you sleep on an incline.
6. Wear loose-fitting clothing
Tight clothing adds pressure to your stomach and can push acid up into the esophagus. Loose clothing prevents this from happening. It may help improve your overall comfort as well.
7. Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight and obesity are common risk factors for frequent acid reflux and developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It becomes easy to maintain a healthy weight when you are avoiding the foods that cause heartburn and eating more fiber-rich foods to prevent heartburn. Taking a brisk walk after a meal can aid digestion and reduce acid reflux. This will also help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
To find out if you are a healthy weight, use this BMI calculator.
8. Stop smoking
Smoking can cause heartburn. It also leads to several different types of gastrointestinal cancers and other serious health conditions. Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions for your health you can make. Seek out resources to help – it may not be the easiest thing on this list, but it is one of the most important.
Using the tips above can help you avoid acid reflux. If you are experiencing heartburn more than two to three times a week, you may have GERD. You should schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you suspect you have GERD. The doctor may perform an upper endoscopy to evaluate you for GERD and check for ulcers or Barrett’s esophagus. Don’t delay – schedule an appointment today.
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