Stop a Heartburn Before It Starts

| Pregnancy & Parenting

You're at the ballpark cheering on the home team, and just can't resist the temptation of a chili dog. That, combined with a beer and maybe a few peanuts leaves you with that familiar, burning sensation in your chest and tightness at the back of your throat. A heartburn occurs when stomach acid makes its way back up into your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach. More than 40 percent of Americans suffer heartburns each month, and oftentimes use heartburn medications, such as Prilosec or Prevacid, to battle the foe. However, new studies show that some of these medications (called proton pump inhibitors) may increase the risk for heart attack. That's no good. Let's look at some ways to tame the beast without pills.

heartburn

Mindfully eat. Take the time indulge in the sight and smell of your food; this will start the flow of digestive juices and your system will know that food is on the way. Chew slowly and enjoy each bite. Don't bombard your digestive system with huge bites, one after the other. The more food that is in your belly, the more likely it is to reflux up the esophagus. And, the saliva in your mouth that helps masticate the food also paves a painless road to the stomach.

Take a break from foods that have acids. Yes, spicy Thai food is certainly delicious, but could be the culprit for your post-meal heartburn. Some other foods that have high acidities are coffee, hot peppers, alcohol, and citrus foods. These will irritate the membranes of the esophagus and the lining of the stomach.

Include fermented foods. Yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha are rich in probiotics, which encourage good digestive enzymes and bacteria in the stomach! These will aid your gut in healthy and faster digestion.

>> Click here to read more about fermented foods!

Wiggle out of the skinnies. Give your tummy room to breathe! Tight jeans will put pressure on the stomach and may push food back up the esophagus. That's right, relax into some loose sweatpants.

Relax. Stress and indigestion go hand-in-hand. When you are stressed, you may eat faster and your body may produce less mucus to coat the lining of the stomach. Take a few deep breaths before, during and after your meal. This could help tighten the lower esophageal sphincter, keeping food from refluxing. Need some tips for eating better at work, where your stress levels are the highest? Click here!

woman relaxing in the bathtub

Chew a piece of gum. Studies in recent years show that chewing a piece of gum after a meal forces more saliva into the stomach, which neutralizes some of the stomach acids that could cause burning sensations.

Don't eat a big meal and then exercise. A rigorous routine right after eating a meal can induce acid reflux. Choose a yoga flow instead of jumping jacks.

Take advantage of gravity. When you lie flat on your back, the food and stomach acids can linger in the esophagus. Keep the stomach acid where it belongs by elevating your head and chest!

Limit junk food and don't limit fruits and veggies. Plenty of vegetables and fruit will keep things moving smoothly through the digestion process. Junk food and fried foods are full of chemicals and oils that are not as easily digestible and may induce acid reflux.

>> Is bloating where your issue lies? Click here for recipes that fight the belly bloat!