Q: What can I do to help or prevent heartburn?! – Robert J.
A: Heartburn relief can be achieved by some simple lifestyle and diet changes. Here are some suggestions for preventing and managing heartburn.
- Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Eat meals at least two hours to three hours before lying down — this will give food time to digest and empty from your stomach, and acid levels a chance to decrease before you lay down.
- Don’t overeat. Decrease the size of portions at meal times or try eating four to five small meals instead of three large ones.
- Eat slowly.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Avoid heartburn triggers. Stay away from foods and beverages that trigger your heartburn symptoms (e.g., onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated beverages such as coffee, citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, or high-fat foods).
- Keep a diary or heartburn log. Keep track of when heartburn hits and the specific foods that seem to trigger the incidents.
- Shed some pounds. If you are overweight, losing weight can help relieve heartburn symptoms.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine, one of the main active ingredients in cigarettes, can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that controls the opening between the esophagus and stomach, allowing the acid-containing contents of the stomach to enter the esophagus.
- Avoid alcohol.
There is no real research on natural cures for heartburn, but here are a few that may help.
- Chewing gum – Promotes saliva production which buffers the acid in the stomach
- Baking Soda – A base that will neutralize the acid in the stomach is ½ tsp to 1 tsp with a glass of water. Note: If used too often it can cause swelling and nausea.
- Licorice – Has natural stomach healing properties; look for DGL licorice. It also comes in tablets you can take before meals.
- Aloe – Reduces inflammation in the esophagus and stomach; also has laxative properties, so look for aloe vera juice that says the laxative component has been removed. Drink ½ cup before meals.