12 Ways to Control Heartburn

man with heartburn (Copy)

The pain of heartburn is as old as time itself. As far back in history as you choose to look, there is evidence of people struggling with heartburn and acid reflux, and there were doctors trying to figure out ways to put a stop to the pain. The ancient Romans, the Kings and Queens of Europe and even the indigenous cultures within the native Americas had heartburn. Chances are that knowledge doesn’t do much to make your pain feel any better.

What is Acid Reflux?

Heartburn and acid reflux develop when digestive juices like acid and bile escape from the stomach and wind up in the esophagus, which is the long tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The stomach and esophagus are separated by a small valve called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. When this sphincter malfunctions, stomach acid can backwash into the esophagus and cause irritation and inflammation. The esophagus isn’t structured to withstand the burn of acid like the lining of the stomach is. If you want to ease the pain of heartburn and reflux, then you need to do what you can to keep those digestive juices where they belong.

There are hundreds of old remedies out there, each claiming to ease heartburn and reflux in one way or another. However, not all of them are safe—and far from all of them will actually work. If you want to be fully free of heartburn, then you’ll need to go see your physician. Of course, there are things you can do to reduce the impact heartburn has on your life.

1. Avoid spicy foods


Spicy foods will relax the LES and encourage reflux

2. Cut down the caffeine


While a stimulant to the mind, caffeine will slow the LES and permit acid into the esophagus.

3. Reduce sugar and chocolate


Chocolate is especially known as a “trigger” food, though all items high in sugar present a risk for reflux.

4. Limit your fat intake


Foods that are high in fat will put the LES to sleep, allowing acid to backwash into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

5. Stop drinking soda


Any carbonated beverage is going to increase your risk of having heartburn. The combination of sugar and gas is difficult for the LES.