If you’ve ever experienced a burning sensation in your chest or throat, you’re not alone. Heartburn is one of the main symptoms of a condition known as acid reflux, which affects roughly 60 million people in the US at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Acid reflux occurs when digestive stomach acids back up into your esophagus, causing discomfort. You can prevent acid reflux from occurring by knowing what aggravates it, such as certain types of foods, activities and situations.
Some types of foods cause heartburn, mainly due to a high acidic content. Foods to limit or avoid when you have acid reflux include:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits
- Spicy foods
- High-fat foods, such as nuts, cheese, meat and avocados
- Foods and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee and soda
Keep in mind that eating big meals or lying down right after eating can also lead to acid reflux, especially if you’ve eaten acidic or fatty foods. Eating too close to bedtime, even if it’s just a small snack, can also trigger this condition.
Even if you take medication to control acid reflux, the above foods contain acid and may exacerbate your symptoms.
Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of having acid reflux. The nicotine in these products can cause the muscles in your esophagus to relax, making it easier for stomach acids to get through. Cigarettes can also cause your stomach to produce more acid.
Stress can make you more susceptible to having acid reflux. When you’re stressed, your body starts making higher amounts of acid, increasing your risk of heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux. Not getting enough sleep, which is a common effect of stress, can also result in higher acid levels.
Drinking any type of alcohol can trigger acid reflux. Having alcohol along with a big meal can make your symptoms even worse.
If you’re already dealing with acid reflux, knowing what can calm it will provide you with relief. Consider making the following changes or adopting the following techniques to help ease heartburn.
Meditation offers an effective way to relieve stress that can cause acid reflux. It can be done in several ways, but the most basic is sitting in a quiet spot and focusing on a single object, such as a candle flame. Meditation can help you find a sense of inner peace that makes it easier to cope with stress.
Doing yoga provides you with another way to relieve stress and also get some physical activity. Yoga involves bringing your body and mind into balance through a series of stretches and specific postures. It has the added benefit of helping you lose weight, which can help prevent acid reflux.
While there are plenty of foods that trigger acid reflux, there are also several foods that can ease its symptoms. Include the following foods in your diet if you suffer from heartburn:
- Whole-grain bread
- Broccoli, cauliflower and other green vegetables
- Lean meats, poultry and fish
- Egg whites
Being overweight can increase your risk of having acid reflux. You can reduce this risk by losing excess weight through a combination of regular physical activity and healthy eating.
Abdominal Breathing Exercises
A 2014 study found that switching breathing from thoracic to abdominal strengthened the diaphragm and in turn the LES. Improvements in GERD symptoms were noted, and for patients seeking an alternative to medication, abdominal therapy is a viable option.
Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking and avoiding alcohol, are effective ways to avoid these acid reflux triggers.
If you suffer from persistent or severe acid reflux, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Contact Gastroenterology Associates to make an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, so to establish treatment options and to start down the path towards better digestive health care.