Persistent, potentially life-altering heartburn may be a symptom of gastro-esophageal reflux disease known as GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD and may cause chest discomfort and an acid taste in the mouth.
Sometimes it can make you feel like you have a lump in your throat or like you always have to clear your throat. It can also cause a sore throat-you may feel it more when you first get up in the morning. It can cause you to have trouble swallowing or a dry cough.
What Causes Heartburn, or GERD?
Sometimes the foods we eat can contribute to heartburn. For instance, eating fat causes our stomach to produce my acid, increasing the likelihood of heartburn. Also, some foods, like those containing caffeine or peppermint are known to relax the muscles in our throats, also increasing the likelihood for heartburn.
The good news is, you may be able to control your heartburn symptoms by choosing a healthy diet and following some of the guidelines below.
Lifestyle Guidelines for Management of Heartburn-
• Try not to bend over or lie down for 15 to 30 minutes after eating.
• If necessary, elevate your head during sleeping.
• Wear clothes that are looser around the midriff; if necessary loosen your belt after meals.
• Quit smoking, or using tobacco products.
• Take positive steps to minimize stress.
• Eat smaller meals, but more often.
Eating Guidelines for Management of Heartburn-
• For drinks, choose those that are decaffeinated like herbal teas, water and juice. Avoid alcoholic and carbonated drinks . Decaf coffee should also be limited.
• If you want soup, try clear broth soups low in fat. Limit or avoid full fat cream soups, and/or tomato-based soups.
• For fruits and their juices, choose low- acid fruits, like apple, grape, cranberry, banana, etc. Limit or avoid citrus (orange, grapefruit and pineapple), or tomatoes.
• For dessert, choose low-fat options like gelatin, popsicles, frozen low-fat yogurt, cookies and cakes. Read the nutrition information on the food label and select desserts with less than 3g of fat per serving. Try to eat less chocolate and desserts with more icing, whipped cream or other forms of fat.
• For veggies, eat steamed , or stir-fried (with little oil). Try to avoid fried and creamed veggies.
• For milk and dairy products stick to skim or 1% milk products. Limit whole milk or 2% milk.
When choosing grains, choose those made with low-fat ingredients. Eat less grains with whole milk or other high fat ingredients.
When choosing your proteins, choose low-fat cuts of meat. Chicken with the skin on and meat with visible fat should also be limited. Trim off excess fat from meat and skin from poultry before cooking. When cooking meat, fish or poultry, try baking, broiling, poaching or roasting.
Eat less high fat proteins like sausage, bacon, fried meat and/or chicken, salami, bologna, etc. Instead of cooking with oils, butter and/or margarine, use a nonfat cooking spray. Remember fat icreases heartburn.
Other foods to limit are spicy foods, fatty foods and those with peppermint.
If your symptoms persist and are severe, see a registered dietitian and/or other health professionals for treatment and medical advice. If you have frequent and persistent heartburn, you may have GERD, leading to an inflamed esophagus. GERD usually requires prescription-strength medication or medical treatment and sometimes surgery.
Source: Texas AgriLife Extension.