Acid-reflux and Heartburn

by Debbie
(Oconomowoc, WI USA)

Debbie's Question...

I have problems with acid reflux and heartburn. I take an over-the counter medication that helps, but is there anything I can do besides that to help with this problem?

Suzy's answer...

Great question, Debbie! Acid reflux is a condition where the acid from the stomach goes up into the esophagus, causing discomfort. If left untreated, the acid can damage the esophagus, so it is very important that you deal with it.

There are actually a number of things you can do to help prevent acid reflux and heartburn. I think the most effective thing you can try is don’t drink with your meals.

There are two reasons why this works. First, when you have a glass of water or other beverage next to your plate, you tend to wash the food down without really chewing it well. Digestion begins in your mouth as you break up the food and mix it with saliva. If you wash it down with big gulps of water or other liquid, that digestion will not occur, and your stomach may need to produce more acid to digest the food. Also, if you drink a lot of water with your meal, your digestive juices may become diluted. For some reason this becomes more of an issue as you age.

So, when is a good time to drink water, if not with your meal?

You can drink water a half hour before you eat and 1-2 hours after you eat. I also suggest that you start the day with a glass of water before you eat breakfast. It will help wash away the toxins that have built up during the night while your body was doing maintenance.

Is there anything else we can do to help with the acid reflux?

Another thing you can do to help with digestion is to eat slowly and not overeat. In this way you will help keep your stomach from being overfull and refluxing into your esophagus. Eating smaller, more frequent meals will insure that you don't overdo it.

You may also find that certain foods, particularly spicy or fatty foods, trigger acid reflux. If this is the case you can limit or avoid these foods.

One thing you should also know is that the FDA has recently mandated that proton pump inhibitor medications used to treat heartburn and acid reflux must carry warning labels alerting customers to the increased risk of bone fracture, as the body finds it more difficult to absorb calcium in the presence of these types of medications. This group of drugs includes Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec.

In its statement, the FDA suggests if you are taking these medications you should talk to your doctor, and if you are using the over-the-counter versions, that you limit use to no more than three 14-day periods a year.

I hope this helps, Debbie, and thank you for sending in your question.


Suzy Staywell

Nutrition page


A Suggested Remedy

Avoiding heartburn in the first place is, of course, the best course of action. But what if you suddenly find you have an attack coming on?

I find that pressing the point about two finger widths below the navel for around a minute at a time is very effective. Don't press too hard, and relax, breathing deeply.

I hope it works for readers.


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