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Lifestyle Changes May Eliminate Heartburn


Millions are plagued with heartburn, but experts say a few easy lifestyle changes can help reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Here are some tips from the May issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter:

  • Eat smaller meals. This helps reduce pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, the ring of muscles that normally keeps digestive acid in your stomach.
  • Avoid "trigger" foods. Most people have specific foods that cause heartburn. These may include fatty or fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onion, tomato-based foods, spicy foods, citrus, caffeine, or nicotine.
  • Loosen your belt. Tightness around your waist pressures the lower abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Don't lie down after eating. Wait at least three hours after you eat before you go to bed or stretch out on the couch.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can increase stomach acid. Swallowing air during smoking may also aggravate acid reflux.
  • Stay slim. Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for heartburn.
  • Elevate during sleep. For example, use bricks or blocks to raise the head of your bed about six inches, in order to get a bit of help from gravity in keeping stomach acid where it belongs. You can also insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. Using an extra pillow to elevate your head isn't sufficient.
  • Turn left. Sleeping on your left side may help your stomach empty better.

If heartburn continues to be a problem, discuss it with your Naturopathic doctor for treatment options.

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