Do you suffer from heartburn? You’re not alone. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, about 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. While heartburn can strike anyone at any time, there are specific lifestyle changes you can make to lessen the chances of it happening. Here are seven tips to prevent heartburn:
Avoid triggering foods and beverages. Common trigger foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, caffeine, and alcohol. Of course, if you’re prone to heartburn, it’s best to avoid these altogether. But if you can’t resist, at least eat them in moderation.
Eat smaller meals more often. Overeating is a major cause of heartburn because it puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus when we’re not eating. When this muscle is under stress, it can open up and allow stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing that burning sensation we know all too well. Smaller meals will take some pressure off the LES and help prevent heartburn.
Stay upright after eating. Forcing your body to digest food while lying down is a recipe for disaster when it comes to heartburn. That’s because gravity isn’t on your side when you’re horizontal; it makes it easier for stomach acid to flow back into your esophagus. So instead of collapsing on the couch after dinner, go for a walk or do some other activity that will keep you upright and aid digestion.
Don’t smoke. Smoking relaxes the LES and increases stomach acid production—two things that are a recipe for heartburn disaster. If you smoke and suffer from heartburn, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health (not to mention your wallet). Not only will it help with heartburn but also with a whole host of other health issues.
Lose weight if you’re overweight. Excess weight puts extra pressure on the LES, which increases the chances of heartburn occurring. If you’re carrying around extra weight and suffer from frequent heartburn episodes, consider changing your diet and lifestyle to slim down and feel better.
See a professional. If you suffer from heartburn regularly, seek the best gastroenterologist. They can help you figure out what’s behind your heartburn and recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, medication may be necessary to keep heartburn at bay. But in many cases, lifestyle changes like the ones listed above will be enough to keep heartburn at bay.
Manage stress. Stress can lead to all sorts of digestive problems, heartburn included. That’s because our bodies produce more stomach acid than usual when we’re stressed. So find ways to relax and de-stress every day, whether through yoga, meditation, or simply taking a few deep breaths.
Heartburn doesn’t have to ruin your life—there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening in the first place. By following these tips, you can minimize your chances of experiencing those dreaded episodes of heartburn. Try these tips today and enjoy relief from heartburn tomorrow!