Heartburn is a common nuisance for many individuals and, unfortunately, it can often be hard to monitor. All too often, triggers do not reveal themselves until it is too late. Although triggers can be quite varied, and what triggers heartburn in one individual may not trigger it in another, there are quite a few common heartburn triggers. Individuals dealing with frequent heartburn who have not identified a trigger can still prevent instances of heartburn. It may be as simple as changing a small habit or consuming less of a certain food! Just a few easy fixes could lead to a much more comfortable lifestyle. Learn more about this now.
Many may not realize this, but saliva has a neutralizing ability when it comes to acid. This is why it’s important for individuals to give their body time to produce saliva when they are eating. If individuals scarf down their meals, they will not produce as much saliva, and as a result, they may often deal with increased heartburn. Additionally, by eating quickly, individuals are making it harder for their body to break down the food, which can often cause other stomach issues. Thus, one method of reducing the effects of heartburn is to slow down while eating to give the body time to produce enough saliva to counteract at least some of the acid from the food.
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Take A Walk
While it may come as a surprise to some, getting enough exercise can be quite helpful when it comes to preventing episodes of heartburn. Many individuals do not get up and move after they are finished eating. Instead, they simply sit around for a while before doing anything, if they do end up doing something. However, it can get quite beneficial for individuals to get some light exercise after eating, such as going for a walk or light bike ride around their neighborhood. Even getting some cleaning done around the house can help keep the body moving enough to assist with the smooth digestion of food. This smooth digestion can help reduce the severity of heartburn in many instances. What’s more, individuals who engage in exercise will also get to burn a few extra calories along the way!
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Manage Your Weight
Individuals who carry excess weight are typically at a higher risk of dealing with health issues, one of which is heartburn and acid reflux. Thus, one effective method at preventing or reducing the severity of heartburn is to lose this excess weight and maintain a healthy weight. Doing this helps reduce the pressure being put on the stomach, which is a primary cause for stomach contents being pushed back up and into the esophagus. Even reducing one’s weight a little can be highly beneficial! Losing excess weight can do much more than just reduce heartburn as well. In the end, maintaining a healthy weight makes an individual’s body function better as a whole.
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Eat More Fiber
Foods high in fiber have been shown to reduce heartburn. Broccoli, berries, leafy greens, beans, and oranges are just some of the healthy and filling foods individuals can easily incorporate into any meal. For instances, they can add a side salad to their evening meal, or even some steamed broccoli. They can also add fresh berries on top of yogurt, or in a bowl of fortified cereal for breakfast. Adding more fiber to one’s diet will not only help prevent heartburn, but it will also assist in other ways, including reducing constipation and reducing the risk of other conditions, such as esophageal cancer. And since fiber can help individuals feel full for longer periods, it can also help them lose excess weight, which, as mentioned, can also reduce the likelihood of heartburn.
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Monitor Your Drinks
Many different beverages can trigger or worsen cases of heartburn, including those containing high amounts of caffeine as well as acidic juices and carbonated drinks. Soda especially is known for being a trigger as it is high in acid, which is what causes the burning in an affected individual’s throat. Alcohol is a trigger for heartburn as well, as it hinders how well the body stops the stomach acid from moving back up. It can be quite benefits for individuals who deal with heartburn to cut back or otherwise adjust their intake of these kinds of beverages. For instance, someone who finds beverages like coffee and black tea trigger their heartburn may want to reduce their caffeine intake and, if they cannot cut it entirely, should try lower caffeine alternatives, such as green tea.
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Avoid Lying Down After Eating
One of the best ways to prevent heartburn is to avoid lying down after eating. Heartburn is the result of a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter that causes it not to close completely, or that causes it to relax inappropriately. This malfunction can happen due to the stomach producing an excess amount of stomach acid, or another mechanism can induce it. When an individual lays down in a horizontal position, the contents inside of their stomach are not under the same force of gravity direction they are when they are upright. The change in the direction of gravity in relation to the position of the stomach allows the food to press on the lower esophageal sphincter with more force. More pressure due to a full stomach and a change to a horizontal position increases the likelihood that food will reflux. It is generally best for individuals affected by heartburn to wait to go to bed or lay down for at least two to three hours following the consumption of a meal. It is best for individuals who want to avoid heartburn to not make a habit of snacking late at night. Another good tip for preventing heartburn is to consume larger meals toward lunchtime rather than dinnertime.
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Wear Loose Clothing
It is important to wear loose clothing and avoid the use of certain types of clothing garments to prevent heartburn. The area of the body in concern when it comes to heartburn is the abdominal region anywhere underneath the location of the breastbone. Any garment that compresses this region even a small bit can increase the likelihood of experiencing heartburn. These clothing articles include things such as belts, sashes, tight shorts, slacks, skirts, any type of belly binder or waist trainer, and any kind of garment designed in a corset-like fashion. These articles of clothing put pressure underneath the stomach that pushes food up against the esophageal sphincter. These clothing articles also counteract any force being put on the stomach contents by the natural force of gravity. Both factors cause the already compromised function of the esophageal sphincter to be even less effective and allow food to reflux. Tight clothing garments around the abdominal area can also make a small amount of food feel like a full meal because it restricts the amount of expanding the stomach can do.
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Eat Smaller Meals
An excellent tip for individuals who have chronic heartburn is to eat smaller meals. A stomach, when empty, has a volume of only about two and a half ounces. When an individual consumes food, the average adult stomach can stretch and expand to accommodate up to one full quart of food, which is the same volume as the quart size carton of milk or juice commonly seen in most grocery stores. Although the stomach is able to expand to accommodate such volume of food, this does not mean the sphincters on either end of it have the same amount of pressure on them as they do when there is no food in the stomach. The more food consumed, the higher the pressure on the esophageal sphincter becomes. If an individual who has chronic heartburn already has a weakened or compromised esophageal sphincter, the increased pressure of a more substantial meal can make heartburn more likely to occur. This mechanism can cause heartburn with the consumption of a large meal of any type of food, not just foods that trigger heartburn.
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Avoid Eating Fatty Or Fried Foods
Individuals who want to avoid heartburn should avoid eating fatty and fried foods. Fatty foods cause the esophageal sphincter to perform weakly and relax easily. Fatty foods and fried foods are the types of food that take the longest time for the stomach to digest. The result is they spend more time in an individual’s stomach than any other types of food. They also cause more acid production and increase the amount of time there is a volume of food present in the stomach that can reflux into the esophagus. Foods that should be avoided include any food that has been fried, baked goods high in fat content, high-fat types of cheese, bacon, sausages that contain pork, creamy sauces, whole-milk dairy products, potato chips, some types of crackers, and bologna. In addition, ice cream and desserts containing ice cream, butter popcorn, milkshakes, french fries, pizza, buttered bread, and some types of salad dressings are also high in fat content.
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Avoid Consuming Acidic Foods
If an individual wants to prevent heartburn, they should avoid consuming acidic foods and beverages. Most individuals think of acidic foods and drinks only to be fruits and their juices. However, several more types of food have a high acidity content that can augment the already excessive acid production by the stomach of an individual with heartburn. The more acid there is in the stomach, the more likely heartburn is to occur. Citrus fruits, including grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and the juice of any citrus fruits can cause heartburn to occur. In addition, tomatoes are also considered a very acidic fruit, although many individuals seem to think it is more similar to a vegetable. Any tomato-based sauces, soups, or beverages should be avoided due to their high acid content. Generally, any spicy foods will also irritate the stomach lining and stimulate it to produce more acid.