8 Natural Remedies for Heartburn Relief

Did you know that 60 million Americans experience heartburn and acid reflux symptoms at least once a week? Our 21-Day Tummy book offers safe, natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux.

By Liz Vaccariello from 21-Day Tummy (Reader's Digest Association Books)
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Are you suffering from heartburn?

Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, which is the regurgitation of partially digested liquids or foods that have mixed with stomach acid. This acidic mix makes its way into your esophagus and throat where it causes irritation. Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen can push the contents of your stomach up into the esophagus, including eating too much, obesity, and pregnancy. Occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about, but frequent heartburn can lead to chronic digestive disorders. How can you find relief?


Chew gum.

Chewing gum increases your production of saliva, an alkaline that helps neutralize the acids in regurgitated foods that cause a burning sensation. 


Drink a glass of water.

In a Greek study, water worked faster than several ulcer medications to raise the pH level in your gut and relieve heartburn symptoms. 


Change your body position.

Stand up straight instead of slouching after meals to help food and acid stay in your stomach and out of your esophagus. Try sleeping on your side instead of your stomach, and elevate your head and upper body when you lie down. This simple fixes can greatly reduce heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. 


Practice deep breathing exercises.

Deep breathing exercises can reduce the amount of air swallowed and strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower esophageal sphincter, relieving some acid reflux symptoms. And the breathing exercises are unbelievably simple: just breathe in deeply, breathe out slowly. It's that easy! An Austrian study showed that breath-training exercises helped GERD sufferers, a chronic digestive disorder caused by acid reflux, "significantly" within 4 weeks. At a 9-month check-in, the participants who were still using the breathing exercises reported continued improvements in their acid reflux symptoms. 


Avoid foods that can cause heartburn.

Common culprits include coffee, chocolate, soda, alcohol, meat, dairy, spicy foods, fried foods, and acidic foods. Instead, try to consume stomach-soothing foods, like the 7 best foods for your belly.


Eat protein-rich meals and avoid fatty meals.

Meals packed with protein have been shown to increase the lower esophageal sphincter's pressure, making it stronger against acid reflux. Fatty foods, however, decrease pressure on the LES, making acid reflux and heartburn more likely. 


Lose weight, and eat smaller meals.

As mentioned earlier, obesity puts pressure on the abdomen, resulting in stomach contents being forced up the esophagus. Large, heavy meals also increases pressure on the abdomen and lead to acid reflux. Eating smaller meals and dropping a few pounds will help to alleviate heartburn symptoms. 

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Quit smoking.

Tobacco contains chemicals that damage your lower esophageal sphincter, the set of muscles responsible for keeping stomach contents out of your esophagus. When this band of muscles becomes too weak, regurgitated food and stomach acid can easily make their way into your esophagus. 

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