Good news! You can enjoy winter comfort food without worrying about heartburn flare-ups, thanks to simple strategies. Even better: No need for Rx acid-blockers, which increase the risk of COVID complications.
Snack on popcorn.
Including 15 grams of fiber in your daily diet cuts heartburn risk by 73 percent, plus makes any flare-ups that you do have disappear in half the time, British scientists say. Gastroenterologist Mari Konovalova, M.D., explains that’s because fiber soaks up chemicals that weaken stomach muscles and allow acids to creep upward. Getting your daily fix is as easy as having steel-cut oatmeal (10 grams per cup) for breakfast and snacking on popcorn (5 grams per 3 cups).
Lounge on your left side.
When you’re ready to stretch out—whether you’re catching a catnap, watching a show or reading a good book — lying on your left side reduces your odds of a heartburn flare-up by 50 percent, suggests research from Stanford University. Gastroenterologist Mel Samsom, M.D., explains that this position helps even heavy meals pass directly and quickly from your stomach into your small intestine.
Slip on sweats.
Cozying up in comfy sweatpants can stop heartburn in its tracks. Scottish investigators say tight-fitting clothes create extra abdominal pressure that pushes stomach acid up the esophagus. Simply donning more relaxed attire (especially after a big meal) can help you sidestep the problem altogether.
Reach for citrus.
A natural citrus peel extract called d-limonene neutralizes excess stomach acid, speeds the digestion of high-fat meals and coats and protects delicate throat tissues. No wonder Danish researchers say supplementing with 1,000 mg. of d-limonene daily (or even every other day!) ends heartburn flare-ups for 89 percent of women studied. And the relief can be felt in as little as 48 hours. Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
Breath deep before you eat.
Taking two minutes to breathe slowly and deeply before digging into a heavy meal reduces your odds of a bout with heartburn by 63 percent, say researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Pre-meal calm activates the enteric nervous system, a branch of nerves that improves intestinal movement, speeding digestion and stomach-emptying.
Down a glass of ice water.
Feeling the burn now? Drink ice water. Tufts University School of Medicine scientists say it’ll dilute and flush acids in 60 seconds, plus block irritation.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.