Millions of people suffer from heartburn. Also known as indigestion, heartburn can literally feel like your heart is burning. However, it isn’t your heart that is burning at all. In fact, it is the stomach acids in your stomach entering your esophagus and irritating the lining. When it comes down to it, heartburn can range in seriousness and it can also be caused by more chronic, underlying problems, like gastric reflux disease. Luckily, there are a number of ways to learn how to prevent heartburn or to decrease symptoms of heartburn from disrupting your life.
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Here are some ways to help heartburn and alleviate the symptoms of indigestion.
- Allow food to digest before you go to bed. If you have severe heartburn, even going to bed an hour after you eat can cause stomach acids to disrupt and cause that burning sensation you feel in your chest. Ideally, you should wait up to three hours. If you feel symptoms of heartburn flaring up and you are in bed, you want to make sure to sit upright. If you have an adjustable bed, you may want to lift the head of the bed, which will allow the stomach acids to go back where they belong.
- Another heartburn remedy is to control the portions of your meals. One of the biggest causes of heartburn is overeating. This is also one of the reasons that people with heartburn are obese or have a higher chance of becoming obese. Obesity is an epidemic, but it can be controlled by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. So, instead of eating three big meals and then snacking throughout the day, you probably want to separate your meals into four or five large meals that can be more easily digested. Also, spreading out your meals can reduce your urge to snack, which can further reduce instances of heartburn.
- When it comes to eating, another way to help heartburn and to limit symptoms is to eat more slowly. Many people eat too fast for their bodies to catch up with the food they are eating. So, make sure that you take your time to chew and taste the food. The quicker the food enters your stomach, the faster it will want to come back up. If you notice that you are a fast eater, there a number of ways to slow yourself down. For instance, you may want to have a timer on hand – you should give yourself at least thirty seconds to eat each bite.
- You can also prevent heartburn from flaring up by wearing more comfortable clothing to bed. Clothing that is too constrictive can actually cause your body to release an excess of stomach acids. So, before you go to bed, make sure that you have loose fitting, comfortable pants – without a waistband. Moreover, you want to wear a loose fitting T-shirt or some kind of pajamas, so that your stomach is isn’t too constricted. The looser your clothes are when you sleep, the more comfortable you will be and you will effectively decrease the chances of a heartburn flare up.
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- Maintain a food diary. There is a good chance that your heartburn is caused by the food you eat. If this is the case, you want to keep a detailed food diary. Then you want to learn how to stay away from the foods that are causing your heartburn. One of the biggest culprits is high fat foods, like potato chips and other junk food. You may also experience heartburn after eating onions, chocolate and caffeinated beverages. If you are experiencing heartburn after eating any type of food, you may want to exclude that type of food from your diet. When it comes down to it, you can also draw parallels and compare different responses by updating your food journal on a daily basis.
- Quit smoking. This can often be one of the hardest things for people to quit. In fact, nicotine cessation is harder than quitting most drugs. The reason for this is simple: cigarettes are built and designed to keep you coming back for more and more. Besides being deadly, cigarettes can have some pretty uncomfortable side effects. When it comes to heartburn, cigarettes can actually cause the muscles in your esophagus to weaken, which can cause the stomach acids to rise into your esophageal region. So, it may be important for you to quit smoking or to find a smoking cessation program that can help you quit.
- Cut down your alcohol intake. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you may be experiencing some pretty dreadful symptoms of heartburn. Like smoking, alcohol can not only weaken your esophageal muscles, it can also cause your stomach acids to not properly digest food, which can make the heartburn far worse. If you stick to a glass of wine every night and a few hard drinks during the course of a week you should be fine, but if you notice your heartburn symptoms acting up, you should reduce your intake.
Lastly, one of the greatest heartburn remedies is to maintain your diet. Having a healthy diet is critical to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Not only should you have a well balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, but you should also be cutting down on your tobacco and alcohol intake. On top of all that, you want to try and get at least thirty minutes of exercise every day. One of the best ways to improve your diet and dietary choices is to slowly make them a habit. Perhaps one day, eat an orange and the next day, make a salad – and from there you can cut out junk food and then cigarettes. Eventually you will clear a path to the healthy lifestyle you have always deserved. In the end, you’ll feel great and you your heartburn will be kept at bay.