10 Effective Tips to Prevent Dreaded Heartburn

Do you suffer from the painful, irritating, ill-timed pain of heartburn?

This familiar burning sensation hits you right in the chest and raises in the area right behind your breastbone, hence the name “heartburn,” and expanding to the throat and neck, and even creating an awful taste in your mouth.

Heartburn is most commonly the result of regurgitated gastric acid (or gastric reflux). But luckily there is relief at hand, and all it takes is a few minor diet and lifestyle changes to control and prevent the annoyance of heartburn.

Here are ten effective tips to prevent dreaded heartburn…

1. Shed Excess Weight

The majority of those who suffer from chronic heartburn are overweight. And shedding those extra pounds will take the pressure off of your abdominals when you eat and digest so that your stomach contents aren’t pushed upwards into the upper chest and esophagus. Losing weight will make digestion far more comfortable and relieve excess heaviness around your midsection.

2. Avoid Late Meals

Proper digestion requires gravity to help move food efficiently through the digestive tract, which is why eating too close to bedtime, or lying down after a meal, only pushes stomach contents upwards, exacerbating your heartburn.  Instead, be sure to consume meals at least 4 hours prior to bedtime to reduce reflux and acid indigestion.

3. Eat Small, Frequent Meals and Snacks

We’ve already established that over-eating can be a cause of food reflux and pressure on the digestive system. That’s why consuming smaller, more frequent meals and well balanced snacks throughout the day will aid the digestive process and prevent acid indigestion associated with heartburn.

4. Sleep With Your Head Elevated

If you avoid eating 3 hours prior to bed and still experience heartburn, sleeping with your head elevated a few inches may provide some added relief. Lying with your head propped up on pillows so that the head is higher than the stomach will reduce pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (or LES), where the esophagus attaches to the stomach and stop food and acid from building up in the chest and upper abdominals.

5. Avoid Problematic Foods and Drinks

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you probably already have a list of acid-inducing foods and beverages you avoid.  However, if you don’t, be wary of caffeinated beverages including soda and coffee, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces, alcohol, citrus fruits and juices, deep fried foods, chocolate, and spicy foods.

6. Butt Out

Smoking isn’t good for your body in so many ways, but you can add heartburn culprit to its list of crimes. In particular, it’s the array of chemicals in cigarettes—a staggering list of over 400 different chemicals and 69 cancer-causing chemicals—that weaken the LES and cause the reflux of undigested food and stomach acids.

7. Schedule Medications

Your doctor has warned you about the importance of taking prescription drugs in a timely manner. However, forgetting to take a pill can cause severe heartburn as well as other dangerous complications to your health. Make a point of scheduling your pills—either set an alarm or make a habit of taking them first thing in the morning or right before bed each night.

8. Shun Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol—wine, beer, and mixed drinks—is a sedative, meaning it not only weakens your inhibitions, but also your esophageal sphincter (LES), causing stomach acids and undigested food to flush back into the esophagus. To avoid heartburn while enjoying a few cocktails, be sure to sip water between drinks to aid the digestion of food.

9. Avoid Tight Clothing and Belts

Tight clothing might make you feel sexy—that’s until that tight pair of jeans or belt squeezes your abdomen so much that your dinner makes an unwelcome reappearance in the form of heartburn.  If you’re consuming a large meal, avoid any tight-fitting pants, belts or undergarments that put pressure on the abdomen.

10. Keep a Food Diary

Keeping track of what you consume on a daily basis may shed some light onto acid-inducing foods, problem times of eating, and bad food habits that may be causing your heartburn. Keep record of your meal and activity levels for a week and review it to pinpoint any problem food or activities. Cutting them out may provide heartburn relief.



Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a weight loss expert who specializes in healthy living. She is dedicated to providing health-conscious individuals with the information they need to make great lifestyle choices that will make them look and feel better. In her spare time, Emily teaches Pilates at a local studio and enjoys activities like hiking, rowing and biking.