What is heartburn and what are the Diet modifications recommended for relief from heart burn or acid reflux?

What is heartburn?
It is a sense of burning felt below the central bone of the chest (called Sternum). It usually radiates towards the mouth or throat – especially after heavy meals during weight lifting, bending over or just lying flat. This problem is very common and affects crores (ten million) of people.

What are the Diet modifications recommended for relief from heartburn or acid reflux?
Dietary modifications are recommended to lessen the likelihood of reflux and to avoid irritation of sensitive or inflamed esophageal tissue. Listed below are several recommendations that may help to manage GERP(Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease):

Decrease total fat intake – High fat meals and fried foods tend to decrease LES pressure and delay stomach emptying thereby increasing the risk of reflux.

Avoid large meals- Large meals increase the likehood of increase gastric(stomach) pressure and reflux.

Decrease total caloric intake if weight loss is desired – Since obesity may promote reflux, weight loss may be suggested by your healthcare provider to control reflux. Reducing both total fat and caloric intake will aid in weight loss.

Decrease total caloric intake if weight loss is desired – Since obesity may promote reflux, weight loss may be suggested by your healthcare provider to control reflux. Reducing both total fat and caloric intake will aid in weight loss.

Avoid chocolate – Chocolate contains methylxanthine, which has been shown to reduce LES pressure by causing relaxation of smooth muscle.

Avoid coffee depending on individual tolerance – Coffee, with or without caffeine, may promote gastroesophageal reflux Coffee may be consumed if it is well tolerated.

Avoid other Known irritants – Alcohol, mint, carbonated beverages, citrus juices, and tomato products all may aggravate GERD. These products may be consumed depending on individual tolerance.

What are the habit modifications for the treatment of reflux acidity or heartburn?
These are as follows:

  1. Maintain upright posture during and after eating.
  2. Stop smoking.
  3. Avoid clothing that is tight in the abdominal area.
  4. Avoid eating within 3 hours before bedtime.
  5. Lose weight if you are overweight.
  6. Sleep on your left side. This produces less esophageal acid exposure than lying on the right.
  7. Chew non-mint gum that will increase saliva productions and decrease acid in the esophagus.
  8. Elevate the head of your bed 4-6 inches by placing bricks under the headboard. Instead, 6 to 7 Pillows can be used to raise the head end of the patient during sleep. Hospital beds where the head end of the bed can be raised can also be used to great relief to the patient.