Heartburn for supper

Heartburn killing you? Check what you're eating and doing - you may be causing this yourself.

Step 1: Understand the relationship between peptic ulcers, heartburn and food

When the balance between the acids in the stomach and the protective mucus is disturbed, the stomach is vulnerable to direct attack by food leading to a secretion of loads of acids by the stomach wall.

Heartburn is the body's way of telling you that you need to change aspects of your lifestyle.

There are a number of risk factors for heartburn and peptic ulcers:

  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Taking of large quantities of over-the-counter painkillers
  • Heavy drinking
  • High stress levels
  • Advanced age
  • Eating of spicy and fatty foods
  • Pregnancy

Step 2: Adopt new, healthy habits

  • Stop smoking
  • Don’t drink more than two drinks daily
  • Limit your intake of over-the-counter painkillers and if you have to take these, do it after a meal
  • Try to relax and de-stress more
  • Change your eating habits
  • Lose weight if you are overweight

Step 3: Follow basic dietary guidelines
The most important dietary step is to eat food that do not cause an increase in gastric juices in the stomach.

This would mean:

  • Cut out fast food, fatty food and fried food
  • Don't eat late-night snacks
  • Eat at least four to five fresh fruits and vegetables daily and two ladles of vegetables
  • Limit your alcohol intake (two units per day for men, one for women)
  • Avoid spicy food
  • Cut out coffee and tea
  • Eat slowly
  • Follow a slimming diet if you are overweight

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