Nutrition And Diet: Foods Which Prevent Or Lessen Heartburn

Lifestyle and dietary changes can prevent heartburn.

Heartburn""a feeling of burning or pain under the ribs""is a common problem. Most people will experience it at some point, and pregnant women are particularly prone to the problem. For those that regularly suffer from heartburn the problem is no longer merely annoying but can interfere with the enjoyment of daily life. If you frequently have heartburn, please do go see your doctor""he or she can determine if prescription medication is indicated, or if there is another issue that needs to be addressed.

What causes heartburn? That burning feeling is caused by food and stomach acids backing up into the esophagus. This is generally the result of the lower esophageal sphincter relaxing too much, which permits the "╦ťbackward' flow. Heartburn is sometimes a symptom of GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). Symptoms of GERD can include: frequent gas, heartburn, hoarseness, frequent bronchial infections, frequent cough, and chronic sore throat.

There are several foods that can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and should generally be avoided by heartburn sufferers:

Acidic foods""especially citrus fruits and tomatoes

Fatty foods""particularly fried items and full-fat dairy

Chocolate, licorice, peppermint, and spearmint

Caffeine (in any form)


High fat, highly spiced cold cuts (pastrami, for example)

But every person is different. One of the best things you can do if you suffer from heartburn is keep a food diary. A simple small wire-bound notebook is easy to carry around""just jot down whatever you eat during the day, and note what foods seem to trigger your symptoms.

Non-diet things to do:

Smoking can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter, and smokers should try to quit.

Some people find elevating the head of their bed by about six inches helps in reducing nighttime heartburn.

Reduce stress""yoga and meditation can be helpful with this one, as well as simply finding a few quiet moments to yourself.

Avoid tight clothing.

Don't eat before exercising.

What can you eat? As a general rule, a high-fiber, low-fat diet is recommended. More specifically these foods have little chance of causing heartburn:



Baked potatoes



Green beans


Lean meats

Egg whites

Feta cheese

Goat cheese

Low fat or fat free cream cheese

Low fat or fat free soy cheese

Fat free sour cream

Whole grain bread

Whole grain cereals

Graham crackers



Low fat salad dressings

Some foods can actually make your tummy feel better! Papaya is rich in natural enzymes that help digestion. If you don't care for the fruit, papaya can be found in pill form in health food stores. Anise seeds can relieve indigestion""sprinkle over yogurt, or make a tea from the seeds. Ginger is well-known for its ability to soothe an upset stomach, particularly tea made from powdered ginger (try a teaspoon of powdered ginger in a cup of hot water). Fennel is also recommended""try including it in soups and stews. Aloe Vera juice can also be soothing""look for it in health food stores.

If you make these lifestyle changes, but still find yourself frequently grabbing that bottle of antacids, make an appointment with your doctor.

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