Natural ways to prevent heartburn

Published on Tue Sep 13 15:58:00 UTC 2011
Brierley Wright

Natural ways to prevent heartburn

Most people have experienced heartburn, a burning feeling in the chest or throat, at some point. (I'll never forget the first time I had heartburn—the hypochondriac in me thought I was having a heart attack.) This common problem—also called "gastroesophageal reflux disease" (GERD) when it occurs on a regular basis—is caused by regurgitation or reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus, which connects the mouth and the stomach.

What triggers heartburn varies from one person to the next, but common causes include fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate and peppermint.

Related: Have other digestive issues? Get tips to improve your digestive health here.

Your drink choices can bring on heartburn too. Drinking too much alcohol can irritate your stomach lining and relax your lower esophageal sphincter—the valve that prevents stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus. This can cause heartburn or bleeding. And people who drink carbonated soda are at higher risk of developing heartburn, especially at night, according to researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Sodas are high in acid and introduce carbon dioxide into the stomach.

Overeating or eating just before bed also can bring on heartburn. Eliminating these foods (or behaviors) one at a time can help you pinpoint—and then avoid—your individual triggers.

Here's the good news: preventing heartburn isn't just about avoiding triggers. There are actions you can take as well.

Related: Top 5 Foods for Weight Loss (and 5 That Make You Gain)

What do you do to stave off heartburn?

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