Heartburn Prevention Tips for Spicy Food Lovers
You don’t have to stop eating spicy foods just because you have heartburn.
Heartburn Prevention: Eat Smaller Servings
Not ready to let heartburn force you to say no to salsa caliente? The
next best strategy, then, is to limit the amount you eat.
“When you eat a large meal, pressure on the valve increases. So there’s a
predisposition to reflux after a big meal,” Sheth says. The problem is worse if
the meal causes you to belch, since that requires the valve at the top of the
stomach to open. When it does, it allows trapped air to escape, sometimes
bringing up acidic stomach contents along with it. For some people, drinking
carbonated beverages along with a meal can exacerbate the problem.
Fatty meals can also increase the risk of reflux. “Eating fatty foods delays
stomach emptying, since fat takes longer to digest,” explains Gerson. “The
longer food remains in the stomach, the more chance there is of reflux.” To
help prevent heartburn and GERD, choose roasted, grilled, or baked foods over
fried foods, and go easy on butter.
Heartburn Prevention: Eat Early and Often
Some heartburn sufferers find relief by eating smaller meals distributed
more frequently throughout the day -- a light breakfast, a midmorning snack, a
light lunch followed by a midafternoon snack, for example. Scheduling dinner
early can also help.
About 50% of heartburn sufferers have nighttime reflux, according to Gerson.
This form can be especially unpleasant because when you’re lying down, more
stomach contents can flow up into the esophagus. Nighttime reflux can also
disturb sleep. Gerson’s tip? Eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime.
That’s enough time to allow the stomach to empty before you hit the pillow.
Heartburn Prevention: Rely on Gravity
Another way to relieve nighttime reflux requires nothing more than two wood
blocks. Elevating the head of your bed a few inches enlists gravity to help
keep stomach contents from rising, Sheth says. You can also use a wedge-shaped
pillow to elevate your upper body at night. For daytime heartburn, the best way
to employ gravity is to remain upright after a meal. Walking after a big meal
can also help. But don’t overdo it. Some research links vigorous exercise to an
increase in reflux risk.
Heartburn Prevention: Chew Gum
Saliva helps move food down through the esophagus and can ease the symptoms
of heartburn. To increase salivation, try chewing gum after a meal or an attack
of heartburn. Avoid mint-flavored gums, however, since these may relax the
valve at the top of the stomach.
Heartburn Prevention: Get Healthy
The most reliable ways to avoid GERD may be the hardest to accomplish: quit
smoking if you smoke and lose weight if you’re overweight. Studies show that
smokers are more prone to heartburn than nonsmokers. And the longer people
smoke, the more likely they are to suffer acid reflux.
Being overweight can add to the pressure on the valve between the stomach
and the esophagus. One study showed that every increase of 5 on the body mass
index increases the risk of GERD by 1.2%. Eating smaller portions and walking
after a meal can help you shed pounds at the same time they help prevent