Do you have a habit of popping antacids regularly after large meals? Heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux seem to be much more common than they were a decade ago.
The prevalence of weekly heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux rose nearly 50% over the last decade, according to one of the largest studies ever to examine the issue done by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The study doesn’t explain why heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms rose, but obesity is the most likely reason for the findings.
Heartburn or acid reflux is caused by regurgitated stomach acid which irritates the sensitive lining of the esophagus. Common symptoms you may experience if you have heartburn include: burning or pain in the chest; regurgitation of acidic stomach debris; belching; hoarseness; difficulty swallowing; epigastric pain after meals.
Persistent heartburn occurring more than two times a week may be a more serious condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). If you have chronic heartburn, be sure to visit with your doctor for treatment to avoid more serious health problems.
Both diet and lifestyle can significantly contribute to the severity of heartburn symptoms. Take control of your acid reflux today by incorporating these top ten tips into your preventative health arsenal!
1. Eliminate dietary triggers. Many people find that certain foods increase their symptoms. Some common triggers or irritants include: alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, peppermint, citrus, tomatoes, onions, fried foods, and hot spices. Try eliminating these foods to help manage your reflux symptoms.
2. Eat your last meal no less than 3 hours before going to bed. This gives your stomach time to empty before lying down to sleep at night.
3. Try smaller meals more often. Reduce your portion sizes and try eating five or six small meals a day, rather than three big ones. Eating too much at once is a big heartburn trigger.
4. Please don’t smoke. Smoking is irritating and can reduce the effectiveness of the muscle that keeps acids in the stomach.
5. Wear loose fitting clothing. Ditch the skinny jeans. Tight clothes put added pressure on the abdomen.
6. Increase your fiber and water intake. Eat more fiber and drink lots of water to keep your digestive tract moving and healthy.
7. Eat meals without distraction. Numerous studies have demonstrated that we don’t digest our food properly when we eat with distractions. Turn off the tv and slow down to avoid overeating and indigestion.
8. Be physically active, but not directly after eating. Regular exercise a minimum of 3 days a week is helpful for your cardiovascular health, but running after eating a large meal is likely to spell heartburn trouble. Wait for a minimum of 3 hours after eating before engaging in any strenuous exercise.
9. Elevate the head of your bed by 4-6 inches. If needed, put wood blocks under your bed to raise the head by 4-6 inches. This will help prevent the stomach acid from regurgitating back into your esophagus.
10. Try nutritional supplement support. Mucilaginous herbs can help reduce inflammation and soothe an irritated digestive tract. Some good ones to try include: Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL), Slippery Elm, and Marshmallow Root. Ginger, Turmeric, and Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation can also be used to reduce inflammation from heartburn.
- Changes in prevalence, incidence and spontaneous loss of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms: a prospective population-based cohort study, the HUNT study.
- Gut. 2012 Oct ;61(10):1390-7. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-300715. Epub 2011 Dec 21 .