HEARTBURN: 10 Lifestyle Hacks that Could Ease it

Certain foods like beans and yam seemed to worsen my heartburn. It got so serious that I was prescribed medications, but even after completing them, the heartburn began slowly returning back.

Sounds familiar?

Apart from medications, lifestyle changes can help to ease heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn, is a burning sensation in the chest which causes discomfort. This interferes with daily living. The pain can last for minutes or hours, and can be aggravated by body movements like bending over or laying down.

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition whereby, stomach acids meant to aid digestion of food in the stomach gets pushed up to the oesophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Acid reflux results in heartburn.

10 Lifestyle Changes to Ease Heartburn

1. Don’t lie down immediately after eating

People with acid reflux are advised to lie down 3 hours after eating. It is advised to avoid eating within three hours before bedtime as well. Even those without the condition who lie down immediately after eating report having heartburn.

2. Elevate the head of your bed

Having late night heartburn can seriously interfere with sleep. Elevating the head of your bed can significantly reduce such symptoms of acid reflux. This could even be achieved by simply using a pillow.

3. Eat smaller food ratios

There is a ring-like muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter where the oesophagus opens into the stomach. Loading your stomach with a heavy meal can mount pressure on the muscles surrounding that area.

If there’s a weak point in the surrounding muscles due to the pressure, stomach acid can squeeze up into the passage known as the oesophagus through which food enters the stomach.

It is advised to eat smaller portions of food spaced over a period of time than one huge meal, for ease of digestion.

4. Reduce orange intake

Most patients with acid reflux report that taking oranges make their symptoms worse. Orange juice temporarily worsens heartburn due to the high acidity of citruses.

5. Shed some body weight

Too much body fat can create a lot of pressure to your internal organs. These organs can get shifted from their original locations or squeezed tight leading to stomach acid escaping to the oesophagus where heartburn is felt.

Pregnant women and obese people obese people are susceptible to acid reflux and heartburn because of this reason. An ingenious attempt to ease this would be to lose one’s body weight.

6. Eat less carbohydrates

Scientists speculate that undigested carbohydrates may spur bacterial overgrowth, and in effect, abdominal pressure. Some scientists suggest that this may also be one of the most common causes of acid reflux.

Low-carb diets can help with the condition. An antibiotic treatment can also be applied to reduce bacteria in the stomach.

7. Avoid alcohol

Are you a heavy drinker? Then, maybe it’s time to quit!

Alcohol, even moderately, worsens symptoms of acid reflux like heartburn. Alcohol increases stomach acid, and impairs the ability of the esophagus to clear itself of acid.

Water is always a more preferable drink option any day.

8. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks

A caffeinated drink is a beverage that contains caffeine, which is a popular, legal stimulant. Common caffeinated drinks are coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, etc.

Caffeine increases the risk of acid reflux, worsens symptoms of the condition, and increases the period of each episode. Coffee consumption has also been linked to greater acid damage in the esophagus.

Carbonated drinks on the other hand contain carbon dioxide gas which causes bloating and belching, an effect that can increase the amount of acid escaping into the esophagus.

9. Embrace chewing gums

Chewing gum, especially ones that contains bicarbonate, reduce acidity in the esophagus.

Chewing gum also increases saliva production which helps to clear the esophagus of acid.

10. Avoid eating raw onions

Raw onions have been proven to increase heartburn, acid reflux and belching. Onions have high amounts of fermentable fiber, which could cause belching. Belching is not good, as it causes pressure to stomach muscles which could lead to acid reflux and its symptoms such as heartburn.

Raw onions might also irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing worsened heartburn.

Conclusion

Heartburn is a terrible condition to have. The discomfort the body feels from this symptom have the potential to cause stress and make day-to-day living difficult.

A visit to the doctor works, as the condition can be monitored and medicines prescribed accordingly. But then some lifestyle changes would also go a long way to help manage it.


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