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How to Stop Heartburn Before It Even Starts

Guacamole, barbecue, baked beans… wish you could enjoy all the festive fare without indigestion? Heartburn is truly the worst, but you can avoid it by following these tips proven to prevent reflux flares.

Drink from the tap.

Downing a glass of water the moment you feel a burn quashes acid reflux symptoms in a minute and works as well as PPIs, with zero side effects, according to research published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences. “Water is a ‘neutral’ substance that diminishes the acidic component of the stomach,” explains gastroenterologist Peyton Berookim, MD. Boost the effects with a teaspoon of honey and sliced fresh ginger. “Honey coats the esophagus while ginger’s phenolic compounds reduce the likelihood of acid flowing back up from your stomach,” explains Dr. Berookim.

Take a breather.

Ever notice heartburn flares when you’re stressed? “Receiving bad news, worrying about finances or a loved one, even watching the evening news causes acid production in the stomach to ramp up,” explains Dr. Berookim. And just like other muscles, our gastric muscles contract when we’re tense, pushing stomach acids into the esophagus. The fix: Researchers found that a simple “belly breathing” technique tamped down stress and reflux symptoms for 80 percent of folks. To do: Lie on your back with one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand but your chest remains still. Slowly exhale through pursed lips. Repeat for 10 minutes.

Snack on this cracker.

Fiber is good for more than just your digestion. “By helping move stomach contents along, fiber prevents acid from being pushed back into the esophagus,” says Dr. Berookim. In fact, a new European study found that folks who upped their fiber intake slashed their risk of heartburn by 57 percent. Simply swap snack crackers for fiber-packed Metamucil Fiber Thins ($20.98 for 4-pack, Amazon), which keep stomach contents in place.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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