You wake in the night, your chest burning. Sometimes the pain is so intense
you think it's a heart attack.
For the 60 million Americans who get heartburnat
least once a month, the pain isn't just a small inconvenience. Heartburn can
affect almost everything you do, keeping you from sleeping at night and
functioning well during the day.
A muscular ring between the end of the esophagus and the beginning of the
stomach normally keeps stomach acid where it belongs -- in the stomach. But in
people with frequent heartburn, this area, the lower esophageal sphincter
muscle (LES), may not prevent stomach acid from splashing up into the
Does this mean you just have to live with heartburn? No! A recent survey
conducted by the National Heartburn Alliance (NHBA) revealed that 92% of
frequent heartburn sufferers point to food as the primary cause of their
So, if a change in diet can help you avoid heartburn, which foods should you
choose to lose to help head off the pain?
Heartburn Relief: Food Facts
Though heartburn triggers can vary from person to person, certain food and
drinks are more prone to allowing stomach acid to splash up into your
Meats. Ground beef, marbled sirloin, chicken nugget-style,
and chicken/buffalo wings.
Fats, Oils & Sweets. Chocolate, regular corn and potato
chips, high-fat butter cookies, brownies, doughnuts, creamy and oily salad
dressings, fried or fatty food in general.
Foods and beverages like these contribute to heartburn (and the more serious
GERD) by lessening the effectiveness of the LES
to keep stomach contents in the stomach. Smoking also plays a large role, and
carbonated beverages should be added to the list as they can put pressure on
the stomach, forcing stomach acid back up into the esophagus.
Avoid the foods and beverages above -- and eat smaller meals -- and you may
decrease the amount of reflux from your stomach into the esophagus.
Yet changing what you eat isn't the only way to avoid the horrors of
heartburn, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make as well.
3 Heartburn-Preventing Lifestyle Changes
While watching what you eat and drink can help reduce your occurrences of
heartburn, there are a few changes you can make in everyday life that can go
hand in hand.
Watch Portion Size. Larger meals and higher-fat meals tend
to stay in the stomach longer before moving into the small intestine, so the
LES and esophagus are potentially exposed to stomach contents/acid for a longer
time, according to Pat Baird, RD, with the National Heartburn Alliance.