15 Natural Ways to Ease Heartburn

Take a cue from ancient culinary traditions, and try to work a digestive aid, like miso soup, into each meal. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Take a cue from ancient culinary traditions, and try to work a digestive aid, like miso soup, into each meal. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

If you suffer from heartburn, follow these 15 dos and don’ts to minimize it naturally (via Care2.com):

1. Do find out the root cause of your heartburn. Heartburn has many root causes, including stress, food allergies, and structural problems with your esophageal sphincter.

2. Do consider raising the head of your bed. Elevating your head keeps the contents of the stomach from sliding up against the LES (the sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach) while you sleep. Try placing a 4-by-4-inch piece of wood under the top two legs of your bed, or using a foam wedge under your mattress.

3. Do chew thoroughly. Chewing helps digestion by breaking down food and mixing it with digestive enzymes and probiotics in the mouth.

4. Do consider natural chewing gum after meals. Gum stimulates saliva production, which is alkaline. The theory behind chewing gum to ease heartburn is that the saliva travels down the esophagus and helps protect the food tube and neutralize some of the acid in the stomach. Just be sure to avoid peppermint-flavored gum, which can actually increase your chances of reflux.

5. Do chew a tablet or two of DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) 15 minutes before a meal. Licorice contains substances that decrease swelling and enhances the body’s ability to heal ulcers and inflammation.

6. Do eat smaller meals. The greater the volume of your meal, the higher the odds it will give you heartburn simply because of the mechanical pressure the weight of the food puts on the LES.

7. Do eat fermented foods. Eating fermented foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, raw cheeses, sauerkraut, lassi, miso, tempeh and kombucha, encourage the proliferation of dietary enzymes and good bacteria.

8. Do build a digestive boost into each meal. Ancient culinary traditions had built-in digestive aids, like eating shavings of pickled ginger, a spoonful of tangy Indian chutney or an umeboshi plum (a pickled fruit found in the Asian or macrobiotic section of the health-food store). At some point in history, Western cuisine lost this tradition. But including a digestive aid in each meal can help to prevent heartburn from starting.

9. Do pay attention to what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to keep things moving. When cooking meat, choose to grill, broil or bake instead of pan fry or deep fry. You can also try goat’s milk dairy products, which contain less fat than cow’s milk and, as a result, are more easily digestible.

10. Do limit junk food. Processed foods are filled with chemicals designed to delay degradation and extend shelf life, many of which can cause heartburn.

11. Don’t wear clothing that is too tight. Constrictive clothing puts pressure on the abdomen, which can press the stomach’s contents up against the sphincter at the base of the esophagus, causing heartburn.

12. Don’t eat within two hours before vigorous exercise. Too much vigorous exercise (like jumping rope or fast-paced jogging) can induce acid reflux, even in people who usually don’t suffer from the condition. If you do happen to hit the gym on a full stomach, choose the cycling class over the hip-hop yoga.

13. Don’t lie down within two to three hours of eating. Gravity is your friend. Give the stomach plenty of time to empty its contents before you lie down.

14. Don’t eat foods that can irritate the esophageal lining. A few common offenders are citrus juice, tomato juice and spicy foods.

15. Don’t suck on peppermints. They can relax the esophageal sphincter muscle, which can make heartburn worse.

 

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