Do you find yourself popping Pepto after big meals? You’re not alone. A lot of heartburn sufferers turn to medications to cut down the unpleasant effects of acid reflux. But there’s a catch: Over the long term, treatment with antacids can have some nasty health effects, including nutrient deficiencies and stomach upset.
Luckily, you have more natural options for heartburn relief. Some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can go a long way to stopping heartburn in its tracks.
Zero in on your dietary triggers
Heartburn is often triggered by a handful of hard-to-digest foods & drinks: Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, peppermint, citrus, tomatoes, onions, fried foods and hot spices are some of the top offenders.
Try cutting these out of your diet and reintroducing them one at a time to zero in on the ones causing your problem. Put those on your hit lit and send them packing—permanently.
Stay upright after meals
We all love to plunk down on the couch after a nice meal, but it could be making your heartburn worse. If you recline right after eating, the acidic mixture in your stomach can sometimes flow into your esophagus where it will cause that uncomfortable burning sensation.
Make sure you eat your last meal no less than 3 hours before going to bed, and if you have a habit of reclining on the sofa after dinner, try sitting up instead. It will give your body time to digest before you get horizontal.
Try smaller meals more often
Eating too much at once is a big heartburn trigger. When you fill your stomach to brimming, the mixture inside can sometimes get out. So rather than eating three big meals a day, try cutting down your portion sizes and eating 5 or 6 times.
Put down the smokes
It’s no secret that smoking is a big health no-no, but not everyone realizes it can contribute to heartburn by impairing the muscle that keeps acids in your stomach. If you can bring yourself to Butt out, you may find your food goes down easier—and stays down.
Ditch the skinny jeans
Tight clothes put extra pressure on your abdomen, which can make it easier for stomach acid to escape. Try wearing looser-fitting clothes to keep your digestive system happy.
More fiber, more water
The microbes in your digestive tract are your friends; if you treat them well, they’ll return the favor. Make sure you eat plenty of fiber (their favorite food) and drink lots of water throughout the day to keep them healthy, so they can keep everything moving along.
Say no to screens at mealtime
Who hasn’t fiddled with their phone at mealtime? Believe it or not, this habit can contribute to heartburn by making you eat too much too fast—and there’s science top back this up. Turn off the TV, put down your phone and slow down to enjoy your meal.
Get your body moving (but not right after eating)
Regular workouts are a great thing: They help your heart, improve your sleep and come with a host of other benefits. But running right after a big meal is likely to spell heartburn trouble. Wait at least of 1 1/2 hours after eating before doing any hard exercise.
Tilt your bed (really)
If your acid reflux triggers when you lie down at night, try raising the head of your bed 4-6 inches with a wedge pillow. This will help prevent your stomach acid from escaping into your esophagus when you’re trying to sleep.
Get the right supplements
If switching up your diet isn’t doing the trick, you can get a helping hand from supplements: Digestive enzymes may help you breakdown food, and if you’re using antacids, you may need some extra vitamin B12, since antacids can make it harder to absorb.
Interested in supplements, but not sure where to start? Take our 5-minute assessment to find out which supplement combo is right for you.