Written By Lewis Robinson / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Most everyone experiences heartburn at some point in their life. Heartburn is caused by acid reflux and although the terms are used interchangeably, they aren't the same thing. Acid reflux happens when the valve between the stomach and esophagus remains open and stomach acid spills into the esophagus.
The painful burning you feel is called heartburn. Experiencing heartburn from acid reflux every day can damage the esophagus, so here are six tips to minimize the symptoms.
1. Avoid Acidic Foods
One of the best ways to reduce acid reflux is by avoiding acidic foods in the first place. The worst choices for heartburn include citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. That means your morning orange juice will probably be off the table.
Other acidic foods include pineapple and anything made from tomatoes, like ketchup and spaghetti sauce. Yogurt can also be acidic if it's high in fat or contains berries, so keep that in mind if your heartburn kicks in after eating it.
2. Go Gluten-Free
One of the most surprising sources of acid reflux and heartburn is from foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains including wheat and is abundant in high carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, cereal and pastry.
People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease reported relief from heartburn after removing gluten from their diet. The same has occurred in non-celiac patients with a gluten sensitivity showing a possible link between gluten and acid reflux. If you experience frequent heartburn, going gluten-free is worth a try.
3. Lose Those Extra Pounds
Losing weight is the answer to many health conditions and acid reflux is no exception. When you're overweight and have excess belly fat, you're putting pressure on your stomach and pushing acid up into your throat.
You're also at risk for a hiatal hernia which exacerbates heartburn. By losing weight, you'll alleviate stress on the stomach and allow it to empty as it should. Plus, by altering your diet for weight loss, you're more apt to eliminate heartburn-causing foods such as those high in carbs and fat.
4. Drink Less Coffee
If you're one of those people that doesn't want anyone messing with their morning coffee, there's good news: even if you have heartburn, you don't have to give it up completely.
Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea tend to increase stomach acid, but they also may relax the esophageal sphincter causing acid to flow freely between the stomach and lower esophagus. If you drink coffee regularly and experience heartburn, try drinking just a cup less or buy a low-acid blend such as dark roast.
5. Eat Smaller Meals
In much the same way that added weight puts pressure on your stomach, eating a large meal usually causes heartburn even if it doesn't include acidic or high-carb foods. Overeating causes your stomach to stretch, which in turn pushes stomach acid north.
To prevent this, try eating several smaller meals throughout the day instead of two or three large meals. Besides reducing heartburn, smaller meals may improve your digestion and stabilize blood sugar. It also helps you learn portion control and feels a lot better than being too full to move.
6. Don't Eat Late at Night
Most people tend to experience heartburn when they turn in for the evening, especially if they eat dinner late. Laying down horizontally in bed makes it all the easier for burning acid to travel back up the esophagus, making it difficult to fall asleep.
One way to combat nighttime heartburn is to eat three hours or more before your bedtime and skip the heavy desserts. You can also try elevating your pillow or using a wedge so you're slightly propped up, discouraging the flow of acid reflux.
Heartburn from acid reflux is painful, uncomfortable and may eventually damage the esophagus. To ease your symptoms, consider losing weight, following a gluten-free diet and eating smaller meals throughout the day.
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Lewis Robinson is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. When he isn’t writing he can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.