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... 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:

  1. If you're overweight, lose weight.  Your fat belly may be pushing the stomach contents-- including caustic stomach acid-- back up into the esophagus. 
  2. 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.
  3. Drink more fluids, including water with meals.  This helps lubricate the esophagus, aids digestion and dilutes the  acid that leaks through.
  4. 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.  
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
     
  7. 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 esophagus.  
  8. 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.
     
  9. 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.
  10. 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 Fun!
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