For some people, eating their favorite foods is a recipe for disaster. They may taste delicious, but soon after eating them comes discomfort. Sometimes you may feel like you’re about to fall into a “food coma”, your stomach hurts, or you get gas. While uncomfortable, some people get to take the unpleasantness up a notch and end up experiencing heartburn. But what, exactly, is it? And is there anything you can do to prevent it?
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a popular term used to refer to acid reflux. It is called this because it causes a burning sensation all over the chest and throat. This occurs when fluids in your stomach move up the esophagus.
When a person eats, the food reaches the stomach and it’s supposed to stay there as it initiates digestion. The opening from the esophagus to the stomach has a valve which exists for the sole purpose of keeping food in there. However, that’s in a perfect world where people eat mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats. And as everyone knows, the standard American diet is not exactly known for its healthy fare.
Eating large meals, anything deep-fried, or drinking carbonated beverages is going to cause that valve to open and stomach acids to make their way back into the esophagus (hello, supersized fast food meals!). In addition, other factors can cause heartburn:
- Laying down right after or soon after a meal
- Being overweight or obese
Heartburn Home Treatment
There are several things you can do right at home to alleviate (or even prevent) heartburn.
- Eat two or three hours before going to bed. This may be hard to do depending on your work schedule. However, be aware that laying down soon after a meal creates prime circumstances for acid reflux to occur. If waiting that long is not a possibility, invest in a reclining mattress or place several pillows behind your back so you fall asleep in a reclining position.
- Eat smaller meals. The reality is most meal portions at restaurants throughout the United States are big enough to feed two people. Growing up in this environment may result in you viewing these portions as an appropriate amount of food. There are several things you can do to control your portions, such as using smaller plates, drinking water before a meal, or asking for only half a portion at certain restaurants.
- Lose weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 72% of the population in the United States is either overweight or obese. This is not about body shaming, but being realistic about what excess weight does to your health, and heartburn is not an exception. Carrying too much weight around your midsection places a lot of pressure on the stomach and makes it more likely for acids to travel back up to the esophagus. If you don’t know how to get started, read about the different ways to exercise and discuss with your doctors which would work best for you.
Foods That Cause Heartburn
Do keep in mind that the list below is not meant as an instruction to never eat your favorite foods. But if you regularly suffer from heartburn, you may want to limit your intake of the following:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Whole milk
- Spicy foods
- Raw onions
- Raw garlic
- Anything deep-fried
- Large meals
If You’re Experiencing Heartburn, Let Us Help You
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.