Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How To Avoid Heartburn Naturally

Heartburn and indigestion make millions of people miserable. Thankfully simple changes in the foods you eat can provide relief. Overconsumption of rich foods during the holidays can lead to a painful January, so in the interest of digestive health this week we'll share a few tips for relieving heartburn, or just avoiding in the first place.

The Heartburn Roll
(Photo credit: moofbong)
A number of foods can trigger heartburn or indigestion by relaxing the band of muscles at the end of your esophagus so it can't keep out stomach acid. By avoiding spicy foods with black pepper or chili powder, garlic and raw onions, acidic or citrus foods like tomatoes, oranges, and grapefruit, fried or fatty foods, alcohol or anything with caffeine such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, heartburn and indigestion can be greatly lessened or avoided. (Be aware that many food sensitivities and allergies can cause heartburn, so it may be helpful to keep a food diary if you experience heartburn often, and if you notice you regularly get heartburn after consuming a certain food, you should avoid it, even if it does not appear in the list above.)

For overall healthy digestion and to minimize acid reflux, make sure you get plenty of fiber from a variety of vegetables, non-citrus fruits, and whole grains. Drink enough fluids to help your body absorb important nutrients and lubricate food waste, and use low-fat methods when cooking. Try drinking herbal chamomile tea after dinner or before bedtime, as it’s believed to have a calming effect on the stomach.

Smaller but more frequent meals can also help decrease heartburn and indigestion episodes. Be sure to eat your meals and snacks in a calm, relaxed atmosphere where there’s little if any noise or distractions. Wear properly fitting clothing that isn’t tight in the waist and abdominal area, and don’t lie down immediately after eating a meal. I know for me, heartburn always seems to occur at the end of the day after wearing a tight belt or pants that cut in at my waist all day. Also I seem to suffer heartburn if I let myself get too hungry, or go too long without eating, so these tips are especially helpful if your experience is like mine.

Wedges of pink grapefruit, lime, and lemon, an...
Citrus fruits can trigger heartburn.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Make your morning meal oatmeal. It’s high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol and when combined with whole milk, gives you a calcium-charged boost to your day. By adding blueberries or raisins you’ll be adding some extra iron and potassium into the mix for a well-balanced meal. (Note: Some people are sensitive to grains, and eating oatmeal may in fact increase heartburn occurrence. If you notice you have heartburn after eating oatmeal, try cutting it out for a week or so, and see if symptoms go away - then you'll know it's one food you should avoid.)

You can't beat turkey if you want a lean, nutrient-packed protein source that'll be easy on your stomach. Turkey is high in niacin, which helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Chicken is also a terrific low-fat source of protein. Both are easy to cook either indoors or out.

Apples and grapes are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and are a great non-citrus fruit choice for vitamin C and fiber, without irritating your stomach. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement with meals can also help your body absorb nutrients, while avoiding heartburn symptoms.

Following these simple food and eating tips can help you reduce your instances of heartburn, and keep your tummy healthy and comfortable.
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