Chew Slowly to Prevent Heartburn

Heartburn may feel like your heart is on fire, but what’s “burning” is actually your esophagus. Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when the stomach acids enter the esophagus, causing pain and burning sensations. Left untreated, GERD can lead to serious medical consequences, including narrowing of the esophagus, bleeding, or even a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which increases your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

But experts have found a simple way to prevent GERD in the first place: Eat more 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 GERD compared to subject who finished eating in five minutes.

Action Sparked
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. If you are experiencing heartburn or discomfort after meals on a regular basis, see your doctor, before GERD causes irreversible damage.
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Member Comments

Thank you! Report
I used to laugh at my husband for eating things like pizza and fried chicken with a fork, but you eat much more slowly when using utensils than with your hands. Report
thank you Report
great info, thanks Report
timely advice Report
good info Report
You fill up too when you chew slower and smaller bites! Report
I tell my husband and son this all the time Report
Good need-to-know information, thanks! Report
Didn't know that. Thanks. Report
Thank you for the information. Report
This is definitely true for me. I'm following the Beck Diet Solution programme, and I have taught myself to eat more slowly by putting down my fork after every three bites and drinking some water. I've always struggled to drink 8 glasses of water/day; since I started this "forced slow down", I am drinking 8-10 glasses of water every day.

Gail Report
Someone said using a chopsticks slowed them down. Not me, I was taught chopsticks before silverware. So I’m just the opposite. I really enjoy my food with chopsticks but I tend to eat slower with silverware. Caught in the middle I am. Report
Good article. Report


About The Author

Liza Barnes
Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.