Index to more 10
... for Controlling Heartburn
If you suffer from heartburn, or acid reflux, you may be able
to make dietary and lifestyle changes that will eliminate this discomfort, avoiding more
serious problems later on. Try these hints:
- If you're overweight, lose weight. Your fat belly may
be pushing the stomach contents-- including caustic stomach acid-- back up into the
- Eat less at a time; especially important if you are
older or inactive. Smaller meals puts less stress on the stomach and the valve
between the esophagus and the stomach. Eat slower and chew your food well; this
produces more saliva, which has a protective effect on your innards. Both eating
less and eating slower will aid digestion, as well.
- Drink more fluids, including water with meals. This
helps lubricate the esophagus, aids digestion and dilutes the acid that leaks
- Don't eat greasy, fatty and fried foods. These foods
can cause the valve to relax, letting caustic stomach acids squirt up into the esophagus,
and also delay digestion, prolonging the period of time that stomach acid can back
up. In addition, they make it harder to control your weight, a major factor in many
cases of persistent acid reflux.
- Avoid, or limit, foods that can irritate the esophagus and
relax the valve, or schedule small amounts of them for times when you will be upright
afterwards. These include chocolate, nuts, mint, alcoholic drinks, citrus juices,
tomatoes and tomato products, milk, carbonated soft drinks, chili peppers and chili
powder, and items that contain caffeine. Keep a diary if you need to so you can
tell what bothers you most. If you partake of a large meal or snack of these items
just before going to bed or lying down for a nap, you're just asking for trouble.
- Don't get upset during or following meals. This can
cause the stomach to clench, forcing acid up into the esophagus; it may even retard
digestion. Make a rule: no discussion of a disagreeable or strssful subject
during a meal. Stressed out at work or home? Meditate. Play. Relax!
- Try to avoid laying down, crouching or bending over for an
hour or so after you eat. Going for a gentle stroll is an excellent
"digestive". Tight waistbands, girdles and any other clothing tight
over the abdomen also can create pressure that press acid up into the
- Improve your posture; sit up straight as you eat. For
nighttime heartburn, consider raising the head of your bed by four to six inches;
this lets gravity help keep stomach contents in the stomach. Some people find that
sleeping on their left side helps, too.
- Exercise! This tones up your body plus it makes you
hungry. When you're hungry because of exercise, you digest your food faster and you
help keep your weight in check, both of which can help keep heartburn at bay.
- Don't let it go. If you're doing everything right,
don't suffer in silence. Heartburn not only makes your life miserable, it can lead
to serious problems. For occasional heartburn, self-help medication is fine,
especially calcium-based antacids or milk of magnesia. For persistent, frequent
pain, see a doctor.
See Heartburn's No