Home Remedies for Heartburn: Change Your Diet
Your diet affects your stomach’s production of gastric acid, so make wise food choices with your fork to prevent heartburn symptoms.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus – the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – opens, allowing gastric contents to leak into the esophagus. Exposure to acid can create heartburn symptoms like painful burning in the throat and chest, dry cough and hoarseness.
Of the 60 million Americans who suffer from reflux, 15 million have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is caused by chronic acid reflux and can lead to long-term health complications like strictures, esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
How Your Diet Contributes to Acid Reflux Symptoms
Does heartburn often strike after you’ve just eaten a meal? Your diet may include heartburn trigger foods that weaken the LES and cause your stomach to produce excess acid. Common heartburn trigger foods include spicy, fried and acidic foods, fatty meats, chocolate, onions, garlic, peppermint, soft drinks, caffeine and alcohol; however, triggers vary, and your list may be quite different. Knowing your unique heartburn triggers is extremely valuable in preventing acid reflux symptoms.
Treat Heartburn Naturally With Diet Changes
The best home remedy for heartburn is a low-fat, low-acid diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Here is a list of foods that may help lower your risk of acid reflux:
Leafy greens, asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes and green beans are gentle on the stomach and rarely cause heartburn.
Oatmeal is a whole grain that is rich in fiber, essential vitamins and nutrients. Eating rolled oats or steel-cut oats every morning is a smart way to start your day because oats absorb gastric acid.
Egg yolks are high in fat and cholesterol and can exacerbate reflux, so use egg whites in your omelets and baking. You will get all the protein without the fat — or the heartburn.
Poultry and Seafood
Lean chicken and turkey, as well as fish and seafood, are low-fat sources of protein. Avoid cooking methods like frying, and try poaching, roasting or baking instead. Sauces and gravies can make you more susceptible to heartburn, so use fresh herbs, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper for seasoning.
Keep a Food Journal to Track Trigger Foods
The most efficient way to learn your unique heartburn trigger foods is to begin keeping a food journal. Writing down every food and beverage you consume will help you determine what foods initiate acid reflux and heartburn. Your food journal should include the specific food or drink (including brand), amount, time of day consumed and any symptoms you feel.
Keep accurate records for two to four weeks and analyze your entries to look for patterns that indicate heartburn triggers.
Call a Gastroenterologist
If you experience heartburn on a weekly basis, it’s time to take action and call a gastroenterologist. A fellowship-trained GI doctor can find the cause of your heartburn and provide targeted treatment to help you get relief.
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