According to a study, more than 15 million Americans suffer from heartburn on a day to day basis. Discomfort associated with this condition is often overpowering. Simply avoiding some beverages and foods may not help always.
Heartburn relief is also about maintaining a proper timing for your meals and regularizing your meal size, according to experts at The American College of Gastroenterology. Meal planning is one of the most important steps to prevent heartburn.
However, before getting to the planning, it is very important to know what the causes of heartburn are.
Heartburn Causes – Why Does It Happen? People who suffer from frequent heartburn are likely to have a weaker lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES), which relaxes too often, thus letting your stomach acids enter into the esophagus.
Heartburn is a frequent occurrence. Discomfort begins when the inner esophageal lining comes in touch with excess stomach acids, thus producing a severe burning sensation and pain and esophageal injury. Yet, it is possible to halt heartburn – that’s where you need to focus on meal planning.
5 Meal Planning Ideas
If you’ve suffered from occasional or frequent heartburn, you can help yourself by reducing this tendency of a relaxed LES. It’s also good to reduce the chance of stomach contents, including stomach acids from splashing upwards to reach the LES.
Tip#1: Don’t Lie Down Immediately After Eating
This is, perhaps, the worst thing to do if you have heartburn symptoms. Do not lie down immediately after having your meal. Wait, at least for 2 to 3 hours after a meal. As you lie down, it is physically easier to the entire stomach contents to push towards the esophagus, the LES. By standing or sitting up, gravity will help your stomach contents stay right there in place, at the lower end of your stomach. This will prevent heartburn symptoms.
Tip#2: Avoid Foods That Could Weaken your LES Muscles
There are some foods that tend to weaken your LES muscles, such as peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and other fatty foods. There are some beverages, too, which can irritate the already-damaged esophagus lining, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomato and its juice, black pepper and chili peppers.
You must avoid these foods to make sure your condition doesn’t worsen over time. In addition, you should also avoid having large or heavy meals as more volume in your stomach can cause heartburn. Instead, you should have 4 to 6 smaller meals per day.
Tip#3: Add More Fiber to Your Diet
A latest study revealed that people who consumed a diet high in fiber were at least 20 percent less likely to develop symptoms of acid reflux, irrespective of their body weight. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Basically, all unprocessed and plant-based foods contain fiber.
Tip#4: Drink Heartburn-Friendly Beverages
There are some beverages that can alleviate your symptoms. Mineral water, plain water, non-citrus juices, low-fat or non-fat dairy and decaffeinated tea are some of the options you can try.
However, you should avoid sodas and all kinds of citrus juices.
Tip#5: Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
While these habits should be avoided or eliminated completely, if you can’t, there are other ways too. Heartburn symptoms can aggravate with smoking and drinking alcohol, especially when taken before, during or immediately after meals. Alcohol and smoking makes the LES muscle weak.