An estimated 60 million America adults suffer from heartburn. So don't feel like your alone if your one of the millions. $13 billion was spent on acid stopping medications in 2006. I'm sure the numbers are higher now. Despite the name heartburn really has nothing to do with the heart. Some of the symptoms are similar to a heart attack though. Heartburn is an irritation to the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid.
The basic cause of heartburn is a lower esophageal sphincter (LES), that doesn't tighten as it should. There are lots of things that can cause heartburn like overeating or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity or pregnancy). Certain foods commonly relax the LES, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated products, and peppermint. Dishes high in fats and oils (animal or vegetable) often lead to heartburn, as do certain medications. Stress and lack of sleep can increase acid production and can cause heartburn. And smoking, which relaxes the LES and stimulates stomach acid, is a major contributor.
Here are a couple easy ways to alleviate heartburn:
- Raise the head of your bed. Elevate the entire head of your bed a minimum of 30 degrees, like a hospital bed. have a firm foam rubber wedge made or put a brick under the legs on each side of the head of your bed.
- Eat less and eat more often. This will help you cut down on the amount of food in your stomach. 60% ofheartburn is caused by stretching of the stomach.
- Drink before or after meals. When you drink liquids with your meal it helps in filling up the stomach. It alsointeracts with the food causing the food to expand in your stomach.
- Chew your food well.
- Loosen your belt.
- Sit up straight.
- Eat slowly.
- Remeber gravity..don't bend over or lie down right after you eat. If you get the "itis"(get sleepy after you eat) take a little walk. It will help with digestion.
- Don't eat within 3hrs of bedtime.
- Move it or lose it. The CDC recommends adults age 21-81 do some kind of exercise 2 1/2 of moderate or 1 1/2 vigorous exercise sessions a week. I recommend 10 min trainer. Everyone has 10 mins. The older you are the more you benefit.
- Reduce stress.
- Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol.
- Nicotine is a major reflux trigger.
Here are some foods to avoid:
- Chocolate(I know..sorry)
- Saturated fat
- Processed meats like bacon and bologna
- Deep fried food
- Carbonated beverages