Heartburn can be painful and frustrating at the best of times.
If you’re a regular sufferer of heartburn, it’s likely you’ve been told that it could be because of what you’re eating. But now experts are driving home the point that it’s not what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating that could be making your heartburn worse.
Dr Michael D. Brown from the Rush University Medical Centre says he talks to his patients about how they eat and how much, not what they eat.
He says heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux.
“Almost everyone experiences heartburn once in a while,” he says.
Here are five reasons you might be getting heartburn.
- Eating too close to bedtime. If you eat within two or three hours of laying down, you’re more likely to experience heartburn. Laying down for a snooze after a meal can cause your stomach contents to slide up to your esophagus.
- Eating too much or too often. The more you eat, the more likely you are are to get heartburn. If you eat too often or at odd frequencies, it’s likely you’ll feel the burn more often,
- The higher the BMI, the higher the heartburn risk. If you’re carrying excess weight, you increase your chances of suffering heartburn. This is because excess weight can slow down your digestive system, loosening the muscles that keep your stomach contents out of your oesophagus.
- Drinking too much alcohol. Enjoying a drink, especially before bed, can bring on the burn. Experts say alcohol relaxes the muscle that helps keep your stomach contents where they belong — in your stomach. That means your glass of wine before bed could be adding fuel to the flame burning in your chest.
- Eating the wrong foods. While the experts debate about exactly what foods can cause heartburn, there’s one simple tip — if you have bad symptoms when you eat something, don’t eat it. As for not eating acidic foods, experts say it’s hard to prove the benefits. Dr Brown says the amount of acid in your food is ‘minuscule’ compared to what’s already in your stomach. Experts suggest a diet full of fiber, legumes, vegetables and olive oil could help offset the symptoms of heartburn.