LIFESTYLE HACKS TO AVOID ACID INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
Sometimes those awful feelings that go along with acid indigestion and heartburn are accidental or unavoidable. You eat a little too much. Or something too spicy. Or you … well, there are lots of reasons stuff like that happens.
But just as often, it can be unfortunate choices, lack of awareness, or bad habits that lead to your distress.
HEARTBURN AND ACID INDIGESTION SYMPTOMS
First of all, it isn’t a burning heart at all. It happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus (your throat) and creates all sorts of discomfort. You can experience:
- A burning sensation in the chest that usually occurs after eating, and often at night
- Discomfort that worsens when lying down or bending over
- Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
Here are some ways to avoid it.
Start by considering your eating habits
What happens to your stomach usually starts with what you put in it. When you face that huge, mouthwatering platter of hot wings and jalapeño poppers, maybe it’s worth taking a moment to consider your fate.
Here are a few pretty easy things you can do to avoid acid indigestion and heartburn:
Eat less. Maybe just a couple wings and a jalapeño or two, not all of them. Or, more practically, one serving of dinner, not two.
Eat smaller meals, more frequently. It’s much easier to digest and metabolize small amounts of food. Remember, more food creates more stomach acid.
Eat slowly. Experts suggest putting your fork down between bites.
Eat earlier. A good practice is to stop eating a couple hours before bedtime to allow food to digest and stomach acid to diminish. Avoid late-night snacks.
Eat about two hours before exercise. Allow food to digest and stomach acid to diminish.
Eat foods that help minimize stomach acid. For example:
- Feel more full by eating high-fiber foods like green veggies and whole grains
- Enjoy a soothing after-dinner drink like ginger tea or lemon water
- Minimize stomach acid with watery foods like cucumbers or melons
Avoid foods that provoke your digestion. For example:
|Deep-fried and high-fat foods, including otherwise-healthy avocados, cheese, and nuts||Foods high in fat promote the release of hormones, which encourage food to sit in the stomach longer and may cause heartburn.|
|Mint, like peppermint and spearmint||Mint relaxes the stomach muscles, which can cause acid reflux. If you experience heartburn after consuming mint, avoid it.|
|Citrus juice||Some people experience heartburn after consuming orange or grapefruit juice. Findings suggest citric acid may be responsible.|
|Chocolate||Chocolate contains ingredients that may relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to escape into your throat.|
|Spicy food||Notorious for causing heartburn. Capsaicin, a compound that creates a burning sensation, may irritate an already-inflamed esophagus and worsen heartburn.|
|Whole milk dairy products||High-fat dairy products such as whole milk and yogurt can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to rise into the esophagus and make heartburn symptoms worse.|
|Onions||Studies show onions worsen heartburn. They are also a rich source of fermentable fiber, which may cause belching and aggravate acid reflux symptoms.|
|Alcohol||Alcohol can cause heartburn in several ways. It can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and increase stomach acid.|
|Coffee||Coffee has been shown to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, causing heartburn. If it gives you reflux and heartburn, avoid — or at least limit — your consumption.|
|Sodas and carbonated beverages||Studies show people who drink carbonated beverages — especially at night — are far more likely to experience heartburn or acid indigestion.|
CREATE NEW AND HEALTHY HABITS
Aside from what you eat, you can help control acid indigestion by what you do. Here’s a list of ideas to help minimize acid indigestion:
Lose some weight. Being overweight puts additional pressure on your stomach and increases the likelihood of heartburn. If you are overweight, speak to your healthcare professional about a safe weight loss program.
Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. Nicotine can weaken your lower esophageal sphincter, which can allow acid and other stomach contents to back up.
Keep track of heartburn. Make notes about when heartburn hits and the specific things you think bring it on.
Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight belts, waistbands, or panty hose may push against your stomach and make heartburn worse.
Bend and lift carefully. Bending over after eating can increase the amount of stomach acid that gets into your esophagus.
Take a breather. Stress triggers acid indigestion and heartburn. Acknowledge that you’re under stress and consider what might be adding to it. And then perhaps figure out some ways to diminish it.
Raise the head of your bed to a 45° angle. Extra pillows alone may not help. The important thing is getting your upper body higher than your stomach.
Sorry if this seems like a big buzzkill
Certainly, nobody here thinks you should trade in your triple-nuclear hot sauce and eat nothing but steamed veggies.
Just saying that if you experience heartburn, you might be able to lessen the symptoms. Eat fewer jalapeños or one burger instead of three. A little moderation or minor course correction in your lifestyle could make a big difference.
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