Just like heartbreak, the name “heartburn” is a very misleading title, as this discomfort does not relate to your physical heart in any way. Rather, the fiery sensation attacking your chest is usually a result of gastric acid regurgitation, a digestive fluid much better suited to remain in the stomach. Luckily, of all the conditions in the world, gastroesophageal reflux disease is one the easiest to prevent. Try the following suggestions and find something that works for you.
1. Lose Any Excess Weight
Obesity leads to an extensive array of health concerns, which is why it’s no surprise that acid reflux is one of them. How this happens is that the additional fat places pressure upon the abdominal area, which in turn, pushes your gastric liquids out of their natural home. The same effect can be achieved by wearing clothing which is too tight, so spare a thought for looser garments too.
2. Avoid Trigger Foods
What do you eat a lot of? Are there any foods which suspiciously seem to cause reflux more regularly than others? Start by eliminating those, one ingredient at a time, using trial and error to locate the guilty party. Here are some common adversaries to get you started: anything fatty, spicy, acidic, citric, greasy, fried, caffeinated, carbonated, or pasteurized dairy. While you’re doing that, start introducing more low carbs and good fats onto your plate, and consider the success some people have found with gluten-free diets.
3. Change the Way You Eat
The more food you shove into your stomach, the long it takes to digest, so reduce your portion sizes or minimize the number of solid foods you consume each day until any inflammation goes down. By replacing some meals with smoothies or protein shakes, you will still get all of your necessary nutrients, yet your belly will thank you for selecting the gentler option.
4. Elevate Your Bed
If night time is a particularly bad time for your gastroesophageal reflux suffering, you may need to try raising your upper body while you sleep, which will keep the internal juices down where they belong. Unfortunately, the practice of piling up mounds of pillows won’t work, as this idea will only serve to lift your head up, and you will experience much trouble resting comfortably. Instead, look towards ways of raising the head of your bed, or purchase a soft wedge pillow.
5. Don’t Lie Down Too Soon after Eating
Use gravity to your advantage by remaining upright to keep your acidic juice down, allowing your body to deal with everything in its own time. For this same reason, you should always wait at least three hours between a meal and lying down otherwise this liquid is free to run around wherever it likes.
6. Quit Smoking
Nicotine has been observed to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, while general smoking also disturbs your regular saliva production. This means that the gastric acid can come up much easier, and you are less able to swallow it down, which why you should give up smoking right now as if your life depends on it. Because it might.
7. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Much like the aforementioned smoking topic, alcohol has never been the poster child for stable health, and acid reflux issues are no exception. Not only has alcohol been linked to the loosening of your lower esophageal sphincter and the spasming of your esophageal muscles, but it is also notorious for disrupting sleep, an already troubled period for those who suffer from the condition.
8. Review Your Medications
Speak to your doctor about any prescribed medicines you are currently taking, and query whether they relax your lower esophageal sphincter, meddle with your natural digestive process or irritate an already inflamed esophagus. If they do, discuss other options, and if they don’t, investigate any other over-the-counter medication you may be regularly consuming.
9. Look into Home Remedies
One should always talk to a professional before mixing up peculiar concoctions in their kitchen, but there have been various reports advocating certain items for relieving symptoms, such as apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, citrus water (pure lemon or lime juice), ginger tea, or probiotic yogurt. Pick one, try consuming a small amount before eating, and then see if it makes any difference. If not, test out the next item with your following meal.
10. Chew Gum
The chewing motion of your jaw is a great way to increase your saliva production and encourage frequent swallowing, which is a well-documented method of neutralizing the acid in your system. Just don’t forget that peppermint/spearmint flavors have a reputation for relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, so stick to your fruity friends instead.