Does the word “heartburn” ring a bell that is painfully familiar? 40% of Americans alone experience it at least once a month, and 80% of the discomfort happens during the night. Are you tired of looking for ways to relieve it? It turns out that the answer can be a lot simpler than you think: all it takes is some changes of habit.
We at Bright Side prepared a list of simple things you can do to get rid of the problem and prevent it. And don’t forget to read the bonus point at the end of the article to find out whether our grandparents’ favored method of fighting heartburn – baking soda – is still considered efficient and safe to use!
1. Choose the best sleeping position
When it comes to heartburn, the way you sleep really matters. For people suffering from it, the best sleeping position is on your left side, as it helps your digestion. Another way to sleep is with your upper body elevated, because it prevents stomach acid from flowing up your esophagus. However, note that lifting your head alone with regular pillows won’t help, so either use a wedge-shaped one or find another way to raise the head of your bed about 6 inches.
2. Pay attention to what you eat
Avoiding trigger foods might be the best thing you can do to prevent heartburn. The list includes citrus fruits, coffee and caffeinated drinks (soda as well), peppermint, tomatoes, alcohol (especially red wine), chocolate, garlic, onions and spicy foods.
And of course, stay away from junk and processed food – the better quality products you eat, the better your body digests them!
3. Pay attention to how you eat
Continuing the topic of nutrition: don’t inhale your food. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and divide your daily ration into small portions: instead of having 2 huge meals during the day, have 5 smaller ones. Don’t consume foods that are excessively hot or cold.
Another important thing to keep in mind: wait at least 2 hours after you eat before lying down – don’t run to the fridge at night!
4. Take care of your body
This means quitting smoking and heavy drinking, and losing weight. A generally healthy body definitely contributes to the stabilization of gastroenterological processes.
You might be excited to hear that losing even a few pounds can bring fast relief from heartburn. That’s what recent studies show. Scientists aren’t exactly sure how this works yet, but one of the guesses is that the excess fat puts extra pressure on your stomach, causing the fluid to go up. So if no other lifestyle changes help you fight heartburn, you might want to talk to your doctor about healthy ways to get your BMI below 25.
5. Know your superfoods
They say: “Know your enemy”, but you should definitely know your allies too! When it comes to fighting and preventing heartburn, these superfoods will stand by your side: vegetables, non-citrus fruits, ginger, oatmeal, lean meats and egg whites. What do they all have in common? These products don’t trigger your acid reflux, help your digestive system work properly (e.g. by containing fiber) and are all low-fat.
And speaking of fats: you shouldn’t by any means exclude them from your diet completely! On the contrary: you should simply consume the healthy ones. They can be found in olive and sunflower oil, avocados, walnuts and flaxseed. By the way, sunflower seeds are a great remedy to use at home during an attack of heartburn!
6. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes
This might sound a bit surprising, but it’s a proven fact: tight clothes and belts put extra pressure on your abdomen and cause a rise in the amount of fluid in your stomach. So reconsidering your wardrobe may not be such a bad idea. Some people report coming as far as going up a whole clothes size. After all, being healthy and feeling good is what makes you truly beautiful!
7. Reduce your stress levels
Scientists still aren’t sure whether stress itself worsens your heartburn, but they do know that it’s definitely another trigger. One theory is that stress makes us more perceptive to various physical discomforts, including acid in your esophagus.
However, despite all the theories, we all know the reality of heartburn you aggravating before and during important meetings, difficult decisions and generally hard times. So do everything you can to keep your stress levels down: try some yoga, enroll in a dance class or get a pet – anything that works for you!
The heartburn remedy that is almost as old as time. But is it still relevant and, most importantly, safe?
While many reputable specialists and sources do indeed recommend baking soda to fight heartburn symptoms (it can be bought in tablets, capsules, solutions or simply made at home), there’s a number of things you should keep in mind:
- Dosage matters: taking more than you should will do exactly the opposite: increase the production of acid and make your symptoms worse.
- Taking baking soda when you’re very full is dangerous, as it may cause gastric rupture.
- You shouldn’t use baking soda to treat heartburn if you’re on a low-sodium diet.
One-half teaspoon of baking soda contains about one-third of your recommended daily sodium intake.
Baking soda shouldn’t be used by pregnant women and children under 6 for heartburn treatment.
And remember that baking soda is only used for fast symptomatic relief and can’t be consumed over the long-term. So talk to your doctor if your condition persists or becomes worse.
As you can see, we’ve given you at least 7 non-medical ways to treat and prevent heartburn. A
ll they take is some daily effort and making the correct lifestyle choices. However, those can be the most difficult things, can’t they? What would you choose – getting the prescription or changing your life step by step every day?
Illustrated by Natalia Kulakova for Bright Side