St. Mark's Hospital - March 07, 2019

So you indulged in a few slices of pepperoni pizza and a beer for din­ner. Though it was a tasty splurge, now you’re lying in bed with a painful burning sensation in your lower chest and a bitter taste in your mouth. Ugh, heartburn!

Everyone gets heartburn occasion­ally. Fatty, acidic or spicy foods, as well as alcohol or carbonated beverages, can cause stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. People who suffer from heartburn more than twice a week, how­ever, may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.

If you have GERD or frequent heart­burn, you may get relief by identifying what foods or other behaviors cause symptoms. Spicy foods, tomato-based products, citrus foods, onions and choco­late are common culprits. Lifestyle also plays a role. To keep heartburn at bay, try these tips:

Don’t eat near bedtime

The National Sleep Foundation recommends eating your last meal of the day at least three hours before bed. Try sleeping with your head slightly elevated to prevent acid ris­ing up from the stomach.

Slow down

Eating too fast makes it harder for your digestive system to keep up, which can increase your risk of heartburn. Take a break between mouth­fuls or take smaller bites.

Shed some pounds

If you’re over­weight, you are at a higher risk of heartburn, but losing just 10 percent of your body weight can help.

Keep a food journal

Discover what foods cause discomfort by writing down your meals in a notebook or in an app on your smartphone.

Leafy greens like spinach and kale are good fiber sources, and eating them before meals may help you consume fewer calories.