The searing pain of heartburn can be brought on by eating
spicy, fatty or acidic foods, or just by eating too much too
quickly. Luckily, it is easy to combat—or to avoid altogether.
When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, you feel the burning
pain of acid reflux. At the first sign of heartburn, try one of these
GOOD TO KNOW
Causes of acid reflux
A trapdoor of muscular tissue called the lower esophageal sphincter
usually keeps stomach acid just where it belongs—in the stomach.
However, heartburn occurs when the sphincter allows the contents of
your stomach to flow back into the esophagus, causing a burning pain
behind the breastbone. This is known as acid reflux.
• Baking soda can neutralize excess stomach acid (don’t use it if you
have high blood pressure). Stir 1 teaspoon (5 ml) in a glass of warm
water and drink.
• Try a tonic: Steep 1 tablespoon (15 g) each dried gentian root and
dandelion root in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water.
• Drink ginger tea: Boil 11/2 teaspoons (7 ml) fresh ginger or 1/2
teaspoon (2 ml) powdered ginger in 1 cup (250 ml) water for 10
minutes before drinking.• Chew a licorice tablet before meals. This encourages mucin
production in the esophagus, providing a protective barrier against
• Seasoning food with fennel seeds or peppermint makes it more
digestible and soothes heartburn.
• Eat a piece of dry white bread or toast to neutralize stomach acids, or
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dry oatmeal.
• Sleep with your upper body slightly elevated at night to prevent acid
from entering the esophagus.
• Eat sensibly, avoiding foods, drinks and combinations you know give
you heartburn—perhaps fatty or acidic foods, chocolate or wine.
• Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine; they increase gastric acid
secretion, which can cause heartburn.
• Eat slowly and always opt for smaller, more frequent portions.
• Watch your weight. If you are carrying excess pounds (kilos), this
increases pressure inside your stomach, which can lead to acid reflux
• Eat early in the evening to give your stomach time to digest the meal
—this takes about 3 hours. If you go to bed shortly after eating,
stomach acid can flow back into your esophagus.