If you're prone to frequent heartburn symptoms, there are lots of simple things to try before you see your doctor. If one of more of these solutions works for you, great! If not, make an appointment to discover if your heartburn is really a symptom of a more serious condition.|
1. Adopt a high-fiber diet.
Fiber is your friend when you have chronic heartburn since it helps speed up the digestion process. In some studies, soluble fiber has been linked to lower levels of stomach acid production. And fiber feeds healthy intestinal bacteria, too. Whole grains contain more gut-friendly fiber than refined ones, so make an effort to make most of your grains as unprocessed as possible. Swap out white rice for brown rice, and choose whole-grain varieties of your favorite pastas, breads and cereals. Fill your plate with fiber rich veggies, fruits and beans, too. Add fresh spinach to soups and sauces, and try serving meat with a side of lentils instead of potatoes. A large increase in fiber over a short period of time could result in bloating, diarrhea, gas and all-around discomfort, so it's better to add fiber to your diet gradually over three weeks, to avoid problems.
2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Many people who experience chronic heartburn have a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you eat too much at one time, the LES will have a harder time preventing food and stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus. Instead of the traditional "three squares a day," try eating six times a day. This doesn't mean that you should eat twice as much food; each "mini" meal should be about half the size of your typical meals and still include a low-fat protein source and a good source of fiber to aid in digestion and keep stomach acid levels as consistent as possible. Smaller more frequent meals may also aid weight loss, which can further reduce your heartburn symptoms.
3. Eat slowly.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston fed 690-calorie meals to 10 healthy volunteers, instructing them to finish the meal in either five or 30 minutes on alternating days. Participants were monitored for two hours after finishing their meals. Those who took 30 minutes to eat experienced fewer episodes of acid reflux or heartburn compared to subjects who finished eating in five minutes. Most people need to work on slowing down many areas of their lives, and mealtime is a perfect place to start. Besides aiding your digestion, eating your meals slowly can help your waistline too, by giving your stomach a chance to communicate to your brain that it’s full. Time yourself, just to see how long it takes you to eat an average meal. Try to take a full 20-30 minutes (you might have to build up to this slowly) to finish your food.