Summer is a time for barbecues, picnics, and quick and easy meals. It can also be a time of increased heartburn. The term “heartburn” is a misnomer. The sensation of burning around the diaphragm has nothing to do with the heart. This sensation occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus (it’s supposed to stay in the stomach!) This is a very common complaint in today’s society affecting over 60 million Americans.
For more about the importance of stomach acid and the actual causes of heartburn, see my previous post “Stomach Acid is Good for You!”
Here are a few tips to help you stay heartburn free this summer (or any time of the year.)
- Don’t rush when you eat. By slowing down and eating in a more mindful way you will enhance your body’s digestive abilities and be less likely to overeat. Taking 5 deep breaths before eating can help to put your body in a more relaxed state, ready to digest.
- Avoid trigger foods. If you are prone to heartburn avoid foods that may exacerbate it including fatty foods, coffee, chocolate, mint, sugar, alcohol, citrus fruits, spicy foods, and dairy products.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight fitting clothes can place added pressure on the stomach and exacerbate heartburn.
- Use digestive bitters. Combinations of bitter herbs have been used to aid digestion for centuries. Digestive bitter formulas can help to stimulate digestion and decrease the occurrence of heartburn when taken before the meal. The best results occur when the bitters are taken in a small amount of room temperature water, 10 to 15 minutes before the meal. You can buy my favorite digestive bitters through the online dispensary Fullscript by clicking here.
- Elevate your head when you sleep. Elevating the head of your bed by six inches can help gravity keep the acid in its place. Studies have shown that for those suffering from nighttime reflux, this simple solution can be more effective than antacids or acid suppressing medications.
- Chew DGL tablets. If you do experience reflux, try chewing a couple deglycyrrhiziated licorice (DGL) tablets before reaching for the antacid. DGL helps to coat the esophagus and stop the burning sensation without suppressing acid production. For best results, the DGL tablets should be chewed well before swallowing. Chew two DGL tablets either right before or right after your meal. If you experience nighttime heartburn, you can also chew two tablets before bed. You can buy my favorite DGL through the online dispensary Fullscript by clicking here.
If after trying these solutions you are still experiencing heartburn, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Knight to help determine the underlying causes of your heartburn so that you can get lasting relief without long term negative effects.