Your mom wasn’t kidding when she told you to enjoy things while you can. When she warned you about your metabolism slowing down (severely) after 30, she wasn’t joking. When she told you that hangovers were “the devil,” she wasn’t lying. And when she warned you that heartburn only got worse with age, she was really trying to help you out.
If you ignored your mom, chances are you’ve suffered through all of this already. The worst of them all is heartburn because it can last for a day or two depending on how bad it is.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a form of indigestion that presents as irritation in the esophagus, a burning in your upper belly, or pain under your breastbone. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid leaking into your esophagus, which is what causes the burning sensation. This happens when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens too often or doesn’t close tightly enough. The cause for this muscular contraction can be from overeating or too much pressure on your stomach (from either obesity, pregnancy, or constipation).
Heartburn Home Remedies:
1. Chew gum
One way to avoid acid reflux before it even hits is to chew gum for 30 minutes after eating. According to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, sugar-free gum can help keep acid at bay. The study said, “Chewing gum could induce increased swallowing frequency, thus improving the clearance rate of reflux within the esophagus.”
If you are planning to try this remedy, you are going to want to avoid sugar-filled gum, as it is bad for your teeth. Peppermint is a great way to soothe your stomach, but it also might open your LES too much, which can inadvertently make things worse. That is why sugar-free gum, like PUR or Trident Sugar-Free, are the best ones to go with.
2. Avoid raw onion
Sadly, when you start to experience acid reflux, it is not going to stop. This means you will need to start cutting certain foods out of your diet. One big offender is raw onion, so taco Tuesday might be a thing of the past for you now!
Onions are one of the most common food triggers for indigestion and acid reflux. Much like peppermint, onions can cause the LES to become too relaxed and open too often. Onions are rich in fermentable fiber, which is known to cause belching, with can be associated with acid reflux.
3. Elevate your head in bed
If it is too late to avoid the heartburn, you can combat it before it gets painful. Heartburn can last for a few hours, especially if you make the mistake of laying down right away. If you need to get in bed because your heartburn is truly making things unbearable, do not lay flat. It will almost certainly make you feel worse in the long run. Instead, you need to lay with your head elevated.
Studies have proven that some people who elevated their head while sleeping or laying down have significantly decreased the length or discomfort of their heartburn symptoms. Laying like this prevents stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus, which can happen when using a standard pillow.
4. Avoid eating 3 hours before bed
This remedy goes hand in hand with tip number 3. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you are going to want to avoid eating several hours before bed. If you lay down right after a meal, the digestive fluids in your stomach can creep into your esophagus and cause the burning sensation many people associate with heartburn.
Avoiding a meal 3 to 4 hours before bed is also beneficial to losing weight. Your body is not digesting food while you sleep, as it is supposed to be resting.
5. Don’t sleep on your right side
If you haven’t noticed yet, laying down and sleeping after eating can go hand in hand with heartburn. If you really need to get to bed and are unable to sleep with your head elevated, that is okay. Just make sure you aren’t sleeping on your right side!
Studies have proven that laying on your right side can worsen acid reflux symptoms. It isn’t exactly clear why the right side is worse than the left, however.
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