We all want to enjoy the food we eat and, more importantly, to feel good after eating our favorite meals. You may not know that the use of antacids and a group of drugs called "proton-pump inhibitors" has soared in recent years, and with that, the potential for harmful side effects.

There are some simple things you can do to aid digestion without resorting to drugs and their potential for undesirable side effects, especially if used long-term. It is important to keep in mind that, just because you can buy a pharmaceutical over the counter, without a prescription, does not mean it is safe to use indiscriminately.

Foods that trigger digestive issues

Some foods, such as tomato-based dishes, caffeinated beverages, spicy dishes and acidic fruits may be more likely to cause digestive issues for some people, especially as you get older and your digestive system becomes less efficient.

Find out if you have trigger foods that bring on stomach upset by keeping a food diary for a while and noting which foods seem to disturb you and then limit or avoid them.

Here is a list of some things you can do to help.

Click here for a printable copy of this list.

-Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Digestion begins in your mouth.

-Don't talk while you are chewing.

-Eat in a relaxing environment without tension.

-Don't wash your foods down with fluids. Drink water or other drinks a half hour before or two hours after your meal. This is more important as you get older. If you can't resist drinking with your meals, then sip your drink between bites, when your mouth is empty, rather than using it to wash the food down.

-Eat several smaller meals rather than one large meal, and don't overload your stomach at any time.

-Avoid high fat meals and an excessive amount of meat; both are more difficult to digest than carbs.

-Drink ginger tea as a digestive aid.

-Chew fennel seeds for gas problems.

-Try DGL (Deglycyrrizinated Licorice), a type of licorice that has the glycerin removed as a digestive aid before you eat.

Acid reflux can damage your esophagus, so it needs to be addressed. Changing your eating behaviors may be enough, but if it persists, see your doctor.


Keep in mind that symptoms of a heart attack may be mistaken for indigestion, so if your discomfort is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, seek medical help immediately:

-Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may come and go.

-Discomfort in other areas, such as the neck, arms, jaw, back, or stomach.

-Shortness of breath, feeling light-headed, nausea, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

-Women may get chest pain or discomfort, but in many cases, it's not the most obvious symptom. Instead, they're more likely than men to have these symptoms:

--Unusual fatigue

--Nausea or upset stomach

--Dizziness or light headedness

--Abdominal discomfort that may feel like digestive upset

--Discomfort described as pressure/ tightness or an ache in the neck, shoulder, or upper back

Get help immediately if you have these symptoms! Better to be safe than sorry!

My favorite digestive tea

There are also some good teas you can buy that may aid digestion. My particular favorite is a YOGI brand tea called “Stomach Ease.” This tea  includes ginger, another herb that is soothing to the digestive system. 

Caveat: Be aware that products that are sold over the counter for acid reflux (proton pump inhibitors), are not designed to be taken long-term (for more than 4 weeks at a time) so don't rely on them to solve your digestion issues. Use them short-term to allow an irritated esophagus to heal and then make some changes in your diet and eating style.

This applies to prescription medications also. Talk to your pharmacist about long-term side-effects of these products.

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