Health & Wellness Articles

Alternative Remedies for Heartburn

Supplements That Can Help Relieve GERD

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Food & Lifestyle Modifications to Relieve Heartburn

  • Learn your triggers. Keep a food log to you track all foods and beverages as well as your symptoms. You may recognize a pattern and discover foods that worsen your condition. High-fat meals, large meals, onions, garlic, dairy products, wheat and gluten are sometimes noted as problematic for people with GERD. 
     
  • Stop drinking alcohol. If you do drink, limit to only 1 serving of alcohol with a meal on occasion. 
     
  • Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that opens and closes between the esophagus and the stomach. When relaxed, stomach contents can enter the esophagus causing a burning sensation. Caffeine also stimulates acid secretion, which can worsen GERD. Keep caffeine intake as low as possible by slowly cutting back on caffeine-containing foods and beverages. Use decaf tea and coffee and caffeine-free beverages. Energy drinks should be avoided. Talk to your doctor about medications and over-the-counter medications that may contain caffeine.
     
  • Eat smaller meals and include snacks throughout the day to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.  Large meals can add unnecessary pressure to the stomach and chest area. 
     
  • Snack smart at night. A high-fat snack can take hours of digestion time before it leaves the stomach. Couple this with the loss of gravity when you lie down at bedtime, and you've set the stage for heartburn hell. Keep snacks at night to no more than 150 calories, using foods composed primarily of carbohydrate and protein while low in fat, such as low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt, plain air-popped popcorn, cereal with low-fat milk (or dairy alternative), or crackers and low-fat cheese. 
     
  • Stop using tobacco. Tobacco products are irritants to the esophagus and stomach. 
     
  • Lose weight. It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of people who are overweight or obese experience GERD symptoms, but relief is often noted with even moderate amounts of weight loss. In fact, a recent study involving more than 200 overweight or obese subjects, 38 percent of those with GERD, found that a structured weight-loss program led to a complete resolution of GERD symptoms in subjects who lost weight on the program. Talk to your doctor about locally available weight loss treatment programs or the use of an online weight loss community such as SparkPeople.com. Learn more about GERD and weight loss.  
     
  • Reduce stress. Stress affects your gut and intestines, resulting in an array of gastrointestinal disorders including GERD.  Practice relaxation strategies that can help lessen stress. These techniques may include cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management programs, hypnotherapy, relaxation therapy, deep breathing, and even acupuncture. Check with your doctor or local hospital regarding reputable resources in your community. Continued ›
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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