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12 Surprising Ways to Prevent Heartburn

Healthy Habits That Reduce Heartburn Pain

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4. Avoid high-fat meals.
Fatty cuts of meat like steak, lamb, poultry with the skin and certain cuts of pork wreak havoc on heartburn-sufferers because fat takes longer to digest  and causes your stomach to produce extra acid. Some of the best meat choices for people with heartburn are the leanest cuts: chicken (with the skin removed), lean ground turkey and lean ground beef, fish and pork tenderloin. Creamy sauces and other high-fat dairy products will aggravate heartburn, too. But that doesn't mean you have to give up on your favorite creamy dishes! Instead of heavy cream and full-fat milk or yogurt, try using low-fat or fat-free versions. (Low-fat Greek yogurt makes a great substitute in creamy sauces, dips and spreads.) When cooking, avoid deep frying and opt for baking, broiling or grilling, instead.

5. Remain upright for a least 30 minutes after eating.
Gravity is your friend when you have heartburn. Remaining in an upright position after eating allows the stomach acid to stay where it's supposed to be so it can digest your food without backing up into your esophagus. So don't be tempted to lay down on the couch after lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You're likely to wake up with a burning sensation in your chest! Even better, consider going for a gentle walk around the block after meals, but keep it slow and steady. Vigorous exercise too soon after eating can exacerbate heartburn symptoms.

6. Wait 2-3 hours after eating before vigorous exercise.
Make sure your food has had a chance to fully digest before you hit the gym for a serious workout. Exercising on a full stomach increases abdominal pressure that can force food and acid into the esophagus. Certain exercises can also increase the pressure, particularly sit-ups, crunches and other abs exercises. Even gentle exercises like yoga, can induce heartburn if you do any inversions (like handstand or plow) or allow your head to come below your heart (such as downward facing dog or forward bend). If you need to eat before a workout, keep your snack small, low in fat and easy to digest. Good choices include a banana, a fruit smoothie or a small handful of pretzels.

7. Quit smoking.
Do you really need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking affects heartburn in several different ways. Studies show that the nicotine in tobacco tends to reduce the pressure within the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which connects the esophagus and stomach. This allows stomach acid to wash back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Smoking also increases acid production in the stomach, increasing reflux flares. Finally, cigarette smoke can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus, which then reduces protection against stomach acid.
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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

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