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Diet for Heartburn Diet Tips for Eating Well and Managing Heartburn

Diet for Heartburn Diet Tips for Eating Well and Managing Heartburn

Fact: You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods to avoid heartburn. A well-stocked pantry with heartburn-friendly foods is key. So is making the right choices at restaurants. Foods that trigger heartburn symptoms, such as fats, chocolate, or citrus products can be less tempting when there’s a supply of “safe” ingredients in your kitchen cabinets.

It all starts with learning how eating habits and diet can affect your digestive system. Certain spices may trigger heartburn for some, but not others. Some people may love to catch up with friends and chat while eating slowly and others can eat within a few minutes. The key is to identify what triggers your heartburn and make lifestyle and diet changes to see what helps you reduce or avoid heartburn.

Heartburn can flare when your stomach produces too much gastric acid, and your food choices can directly affect this. Here are three meals that incorporate heartburn-reducing foods that your stomach will appreciate.

That does not have to be true, however. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be both enjoyable and heartburn-friendly if you know which foods to incorporate into your diet for heartburn

Heartburn Triggers: What’s Burning You?

The specific triggers for heartburn differ from person to person. Mama Mia’s marinara may always spell trouble for you, but your spouse may lick the plate clean and sit back with a satisfied belly and a smile.

What can lead to heartburn may surprise you. Stay away from foods you know will give you heartburn. It’s not just about the food you eat. How and when you exercise and what you take to relieve your aches and pains may also cause that burning feeling. The key to taming the flame is to understand what triggers your own personal symptoms.

Heartburn triggers: Large meals and fatty foods

A big greasy burger and supersized serving of fries right before bedtime is a good way to fuel the flame of heartburn. Fatty foods, large portions, and late-night meals are the top three triggers that affect many people with heartburn.

Heartburn is most common after eating a large meal. A belly full of too much food stretches the stomach, causing you to feel “stuffed.” Stomach stretching, or distention, puts pressure on the LES, the ring of muscle that keeps stomach acids from moving in the wrong direction. So juices from your last meal may come back to haunt you. This can happen when eating large amounts of any food, not just foods known to trigger your heartburn symptoms.

Fatty foods are big no-nos if you suffer from heartburn. High-fat foods sit around in your belly longer. This makes your stomach produce more acid, irritating your digestive system. And fatty and greasy foods lead to a lazy, relaxed LES. So not only do you have more irritating stomach acids, you’re more likely to have the contents splash back up your throat. Ouch!

Best Diet for Heartburn

If you have frequent or occasional heartburn, you can help decrease the tendency of the LES to relax, and decrease the likelihood that the stomach contents (and stomach acid) will splash up toward the LES by keeping in mind a few tips:

Avoid lying down for two to three hours after eating. When you lie down, it’s physically easier for stomach contents to splash up toward the LES. By sitting up or standing, gravity helps stomach contents stay where they belong — at the bottom of the stomach.

Avoid items that weaken the LES muscle (like chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods) and foods and beverages that may irritate a damaged esophagus lining (citrus and citrus juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, and chili peppers and black pepper).

Avoid eating large meals because the more volume in the stomach, the more likely the stomach contents will splash toward the LES. Try eating four to five small meals instead of two or three large ones.

Avoid high-fat meals because they tend to stay in the stomach longer; greasy or fried foods can also weaken the LES muscle.

Avoid smoking and avoid alcohol before, during, or after meals that seem to result in heartburn (like dinner). Both smoking and alcohol weaken the LES muscle.

Try waiting at least two hours after a meal before exercising if you find your heartburn seems to get worse after exercise.

Chew gum (a nonpeppermint flavor) after meals to stimulate saliva production (the bicarbonate in saliva neutralizes acid) and increase peristalsis (which helps move the stomach contents into the small intestine more quickly).

Plan your meals to encourage slow but sureweight lossif you are overweight. Extra weight around the midsection, especially, can press against the stomach and increase the pressure going up toward the LES.

Drink a small glass of water at the end of meals to help dilute and wash down any stomach acid that might be splashing up into the esophagus, suggests Shekhar Challa, MD, president of Kansas Medical Clinic and author of Spurn The Burn: Treat The Heat.

Plan on heartburn-friendly beverages like water, mineral water, decaffeinated tea, noncitrus juices, or nonfat or low-fat milk. Beverages to avoid include:

  • Sodas: These can bloat the abdomen, increasing the pressure in the stomach and encouraging stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus.
  • Juices: Tomato and citrus juices can irritate a damaged esophagus.
  • Alcoholic beverages, coffee (even decaf) and caffeinated tea and cola can increase the acid content in the stomach as well as relax the LES.

Eat a high fiber diet! A recent study found that people who followed a high-fiber meal plan were 20% less likely to have acid reflux symptoms, regardless of their body weight. You’ll find fiber in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds (basically unprocessed plant foods).

Oatmeal and Wheat: Try Whole Grains for Breakfast

Oatmeal has been a whole-grain breakfast favorite for generations. It is a good source of fiber, so it keeps you feeling full and promotes regularity. Oats also absorb stomach acid and reduce symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). For something sweet, top your oatmeal with bananas, apples or pears. The fructose in these fruits is less likely to trigger acid reflux than other sugars. Of course, eating oatmeal every day could get boring, so switch things up with a warm bowl of Cream of Wheat, or some whole grain toast with peanut butter.

Avoid coffee and most teas that contain caffeine, which can cause heartburn. Instead, brew a soothing cup of ginger tea. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that will help regulate acid production.

Vegetables: Add Some Color and Nutrients to Your Lunch

Vegetables are low in fat and sugar, which makes them stomach-friendly and healthy. Foods that are high in sugar or fat can be difficult to digest and can spike acid production. Some veggies that reduce heartburn include cucumbers, leafy greens, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, asparagus and cauliflower.

Try these options for a light and tasty lunch:

​Baked potato with steamed broccoli
Mixed green salad with fresh-cut vegetables and a light oil and vinegar dressing (apple cider vinegar is known to help control heartburn)
Veggie wrap or veggie quesadilla

Lean Proteins and Healthy Fats: Accents to a Delectable Dinner

​​Lean proteins like legumes, beans, chicken, turkey, fish and seafood are low in fat and help regulate stomach acid production. Instead of using oil to pan fry or deep fry foods, use healthier cooking methods like grilling, poaching, roasting and baking. Avoid making meat the main component of your dinner. Instead, see it as an accent or an accompaniment to a bed of greens, roasted vegetables, brown rice or fresh fruit.

​​Not all fats are unhealthy, so indulge in the good fats contained in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. You can reduce your saturated and trans fat intake by substituting healthy monounsaturated fats (source: Health Line).

​​Remember that one of the best ways to control heartburn is to make thoughtful and healthy food choices. These options for reducing symptoms should provide some ideas and encouragement for your journey to find heartburn relief.

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