Most people experience heartburn from time to time, particularly after a heavy meal. Heartburn is a ‘burning’ pain behind the breastbone and/or at the same level in the middle of your back.
Stomach acid rising up into the gullet can cause inflammation and pain. Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart – it is a digestive problem usually associated with eating and posture. Here’s how to beat it:
1. Improve your eating habits
Add more fruit, vegetables and high fibre. Limit spicy and fatty foods, hot drinks, acidic fruit drinks and spirits. These cause pain as they pass over any inflamed area. Eat little and often, chewing slowly and well before swallowing. Do not overfill your stomach.
2. Sit up during and after meals
Don’t eat food slumped in front of the television – this enables stomach acid to rise up into the gullet. Also avoid smoking after meals – smoking on a full stomach can increase the likelihood of suffering from heartburn. It relaxes the muscle at the end of the gullet which then enables acid to rise up. And avoid stooping and bending at the waist – gravity encourages acid to move from the stomach to the gullet.
3. Allow enough time for your evening meal to be digested before going to bed
Ideally 60 minutes. Also, try raising the head of the bed by 15cm – gravity helps to keep acids in the stomach. Some
people find symptoms are reduced by sleeping on their left side.