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Heartburn Diet

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Posted by on Saturday, March 12, 2011, 4:23
This news item was posted in Digestive, H, Stomach category and has 0 Comments so far.

A burning sensation felt in the chest is referred to as ‘heartburn’. The main reason behind heartburn is acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), wherein the contents of the stomach, including the digestive juices are pushed back into the esophagus. For some, heartburn can be an occasional problem but for some it is a persistent problem. If left untreated, heartburn can result in serious health complications. Some lifestyle changes, especially, changes in diet are required to avoid severe heartburn symptoms. Foods that cause heartburn should be strictly avoided in a severe heartburn diet.

Heartburn Diet
Heartburn Diet

Lifestyle and dietary changes are usually the first line of treatment for heartburn. As part of your heartburn treatment, your doctor may recommend a special diet, which some people call a heartburn diet. This diet is no different than any other heart-healthy diet, except for the following features:

Knowing which foods make heartburn symptoms worse
Avoiding the foods that worsen your heartburn symptoms
Changing when and how much you eat
Losing weight (if you are overweight).

Healthy Diet Choices for Heartburn
As part of a heartburn diet, people should choose a wide variety of low-calorie, nutritious foods in moderate amounts. This should include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk, as well as fish, lean meat, poultry, or dry beans. Also, choose foods that are low in fat and added sugars.

A healthy diet includes the following:

8 to 10 percent of the day’s total calories coming from saturated fat
30 percent or less of the day’s total calories coming from fat
Consuming less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day
Limiting sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams a day
Choosing sensible food portions
Consuming just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce your blood cholesterol level. (Ask your doctor or registered dietitian to recommend a reasonable calorie level for you.)
There are certain types of food that can cause acid reflux or make it worse. As part of your diet for heartburn, you may want to avoid:

Chocolate
Peppermint
Fried and fatty foods
Tomato products
Foods and drinks that contain caffeine
Alcoholic beverages.

Coffee and alcohol actually stimulate your stomach to make more acid than usual. Alcohol, chocolate, and fatty foods are believed to cause the lower esophageal sphincter to weaken. A weak lower esophageal sphincter combined with too much stomach acid can increase the symptoms of heartburn.

There are also other foods that may make your symptoms worse. These include:

Onions
Garlic
Mustard
Certain spices
Vinegar
Carbonated beverages like soda
Citrus fruits and juices.

The first step in starting a diet for heartburn is to know the foods that can lead to heartburn or make your symptoms worse. The next step is avoiding the foods that cause your problems. If you love pasta with tomato sauce, see if this meal worsens your heartburn symptoms. If it does not, then this may be a food that you can continue to have as part of your diet.

Changing When and How Much You Eat
As part of your diet for heartburn, you should also change when and how much you eat. Eating smaller and more frequent meals is the first change. This is important to do, because large meals can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax more, make your stomach produce more acid, and put pressure on the sphincter from inside your stomach.

You should also not eat for at least two to three hours before bedtime, and you should avoid lying down after any meal. Acid reflux is less likely to be a problem when you are standing up, because gravity helps prevent food and acid from moving back up into your esophagus. Also, by not eating right before bedtime, your stomach is more likely to start empty the next day, so the levels of acid and food should be lower.
For those who are overweight, a heartburn diet may also include decreasing calories and increasing physical activity to lose weight. Extra weight can put pressure on your stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter, causing it to open and increase acid reflux. By losing weight, you can reduce this pressure, thus relieving some of your heartburn symptoms.

Final Thoughts
For people with heartburn, diet and other lifestyle changes are usually the first line of treatment. This includes eating a heart-healthy diet, avoiding foods that worsen symptoms, eating smaller meals more often, and avoiding eating before bedtime. If you would like more information about a diet for your particular heartburn situation, talk with your healthcare provider or nutrition specialist.

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