That feast was sooo delicious, but it’s not the (only) reason you’re battling heartburn. As we age, we produce fewer digestive enzymes, plus the border between our stomach and esophagus slackens, so more acidic juices creep into our throats. Here’s how to sidestep the burn!
At meals: Portion your plate
An easy way to sidestep heartburn no matter what’s being served for dinner: Simply start by loading your plate with 60% veggies, then add 30% protein and 10% fat. This Mediterranean-style ratio works so well that researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health and New York Medical College found it treated heartburn better than drugs, dialing down acid reflux symptoms in 62% of folks (compared to 54% taking PPIS). That’s because veggies are chock-full of natural enzymes that help digest food before acid reflux can kick in.
After you eat: Chew this!
It seems too simple to be so effective, yet a study at Italy’s University of Padua found that you can reduce heartburn symptoms by 50% if you chew gum for 30 minutes after meals. “Chewing gum encourages the release of an enzyme in saliva that speeds digestion before food reaches the stomach,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, PH.D., author of The Cultured Cook. Opt for gum sweetened with xylitol or stevia. These natural sugar substitutes help your saliva become more alkaline, which in turn works to fight acid overload and rebalance the stomach’s out-of-whack ph.
Before bed: A little honey!
Some 61% of people struggle with nighttime reflux. Fortunately, Australian scientists have discovered a sweet cure: A spoonful of raw (unpasteurized) honey at bedtime can reduce episodes by 50%. Honey contains compounds that coat the esophagus to shield it from stomach acid, ensuring a good night’s sleep. Tip: Stir it into ginger tea to tamp down heartburn-triggering inflammation. —Katherine Kluznik