If you're one of the millions experiencing heartburnheartburn every day, there's more to discouraging the discomfort than avoiding certain foods and beverages. Heartburn relief also has to do with the timing and size of your meals, which is why planning your meals can be so important.
If you have frequent or occasional heartburn, you can help decrease the occurrences by keeping in mind a few tips:
· Avoid lying down for two to three hours after eating. By sitting up or standing, gravity helps stomach contents stay where they belong -- at the bottom of the stomach.
· Avoid items that weaken the Lower Esophagal Muscle (LES) (like chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods) and foods and beverages that may irritate a damaged esophagus lining (citrus and citrus juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, and chili peppers and black pepper).
· Avoid eating large meals. Try eating four to five small meals instead of two or three large ones.
· Avoid high-fat meals because they tend to stay in the stomach longer; greasy or fried foods can also weaken the LES muscle.
· Avoid smoking and avoid alcohol before, during, or after meals that seem to result in heartburn (like dinner). Both smoking and alcohol weaken the LES muscle.
· Try waiting at least two hours after a meal before exercising if you find your heartburn seems to get worse after exercise.
· Chew gum (a non-peppermint flavor) after meals to stimulate saliva production and increase peristalsis (which helps move the stomach contents into the small intestine more quickly).
· Plan your meals to encourage slow but sure weight lossweight loss if you are overweight.
· Drink a small glass of water at the end of meals to help dilute and wash down any stomach acid that might be splashing up into the esophagus.
Plan on heartburn-friendly beverages like water, mineral water, decaffeinated tea, noncitrus juices, or nonfat or low-fat milk. Beverages to avoid include:
Sodas: These can bloat the abdomen, increasing the pressure in the stomach and encouraging stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus.
Juices: Tomato and citrus juices can irritate a damaged esophagus.
Alcoholic beverages, coffee (even decaf) and caffeinated tea and cola can increase the acid content in the stomach as well as relax the LES.
· Eat a high fiber diet! A recent study found that people who followed a high-fiber meal plan were 20% less likely to have acid reflux symptoms, regardless of their body weight. You'll find fiber in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds (basically unprocessed plant foods).