Heartburn can be a very painful, irritating condition! It can stop you from sleeping and make you very uncomfortable, but did you know it’s surprisingly easy to deal with? A few simple changes to your eating habits and lifestyle can make all the difference. Here are a few of the reasons you get heartburn, and how you can prevent yourself from suffering heartburn in the first place:
Eating Too Spicy
Did you know that spicy foods can trigger heartburn? It may surprise you, but it’s 100% true! Spicy foods–like jalapeno peppers, salsas, Indian food, and even some Chinese food–may increase the acidity in your stomach, causing your body to produce more stomach acid than can fit in your stomach. The excess can cause a backwash of acid to flow up your esophagus, leading to the burning sensation you know as heartburn. Cutting out spicy food for a few weeks can effectively reduce your risk of heartburn!
Eating Too Late
WHEN you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat. If you eat too close to bedtime, your body doesn’t have a chance to break down the food in your stomach. When you lie down, gravity pulls all the food in your stomach back upward, toward your esophagus. Getting into bed with a full stomach is almost guaranteed to lead to heartburn, so make sure to give your body plenty of time to digest before sleep. Eat your last meal around 6 PM, and you’ll never have to worry about heartburn again.
Eating Too Much
Overeating can definitely cause the problem. Your stomach is only designed to hold so much food, but if you over-fill it, you cause the contents to overflow. The sphincter muscle to your intestines is much stronger than the one leading to your esophagus, so it’s to be expected that the food will come back up. Try to eat smaller portions, and only eat until you are satisfied. NEVER eat until you’re completely full.
Eating Too Acidic
Let’s be clear: not all high-acidity foods are going to cause acid reflux. In fact, some (like lemons) will actually help to combat the problem. The real problem is the foods that force your body to increase stomach acid production. Meat is one of the worst foods for those with acid reflux/heartburn, as it takes a lot more stomach acid to digest fatty meat. Cut back on your meat intake, and your body will produce less stomach acid.
Eating Too Often
Your stomach can only break down the food you eat at a certain rate. Eating more won’t make it work any faster. It takes time for the stomach acids to digest everything fully so the nutrients can be sent on down to your intestines. If you eat meals too close together, you’ll add food to an already full stomach. The result: acid reflux.
When you have a high BMI, it means you have more body fat than is healthy. The excess body fat slows your digestive function and places greater pressure on your stomach. It also weakens the sphincter muscle that prevents food from coming back up your esophagus. Losing weight can help to deal with acid reflux permanently.
Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol produces a lot of gas in your stomach, and your esophageal sphincter has to open every time you burp. If you drink too much, it’s easy for the liquor and stomach acid to wash back up with every burp. Alcohol also forces your body to produce more stomach acid, increasing the risk of acid reflux. Limit yourself to a drink or two, else risk a night spent clutching your stomach.