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If you're one of the millions who suffer from heartburn, you know how unpleasant it can be. Heartburn, or acid reflux, is characterized by a feeling of burning in your chest or throat and actually has nothing to do with your heart.

Licensed Nutritionist and Dietitian, Lynn Adada will explain more about why heartburn happens and what to do to avoid it as much as possible.

What is the difference between heartburn and acid reflux?

Heartburn is a condition in which you feel burning behind your chest and it can be a symptom of reflux. Reflux is the medical term given to the stomach contents coming up into your esophagus. Heartburn is one of the common symptoms. If you have symptoms of acid reflux more than twice a week, you might have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Symptoms usually begin shortly after eating and may persist for hours or fade in minutes. In addition to burning in the chest, you may have a sour taste in your mouth, coughing, or hoarseness. You may also feel like you have food "stuck" in your throat. Many people experience worsening heartburn when they lie down or bend over because these actions allow stomach acid to move more easily into the esophagus.

What are the dietary triggers for GERD?

Some people who’ve been diagnosed with GERD find that certain foods and beverages can trigger their symptoms. While triggers can be very personal, there are a few foods that are routinely cited as more triggering than others. They include:

  • High-Fat Foods (like fried foods and fast foods)
  • Citrus Fruits and Juices
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Sauces
  • Onions
  • Mint
  • Coffee
  • Soda

Other Triggers of GERD

Pregnancy can increase your chances of experiencing acid reflux. If you had GERD before getting pregnant, your symptoms might get worse. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the muscles in your esophagus to relax more frequently. A growing fetus can also place pressure on your stomach. This can increase the risk of stomach acid entering your esophagus.

Being overweight may also lead to GERD. So if you have a few added kilograms, try to lose a few to lower the frequency of your symptoms.

Other sources of heartburn include aspirin or ibuprofen, as well as some sedatives and blood pressure medications. Tobacco in cigarettes is known to trigger GERD; cigarette smoking relaxes the muscle, which can result in heartburn.

What to do to prevent or relieve heartburn?

  1. Avoid foods that trigger the problem; eat smaller, more frequent meals; and wait 2-3 hours after you eat before lying down. Focus on a vegetable-rich diet, lean meats and healthy fats. 
  2. Use pillows to support your head and upper body to reduce acid reflux when sleeping.
  3. Try to exercise and stay healthy.
  4. Try to avoid anxiety and stress by doing things that will relax you.
  5. Try to smoke as little as possible if you’re a smoker or avoid it altogether.

So how do you deal with your acid reflux and heartburn? Head to Mint Basil Market to check the healthy snacks options suitable for GERD!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

December 27, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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