Being able to enjoy delicious homemade meals is one of the main reasons why we love the Christmas season. But while special food is a great pleasure for the holidays, it is not always good news for our stomachs. Stomach aches, bloating, gas: everyone can arise when we suddenly change our diet. Especially frequent, and especially painful, is heartburn.
"Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, is when stomach acid or bile irritates the lining of the esophagus," says Niket Sonpal, MD, internist and gastroenterologist in New York City. “This occurs when the muscle around the lower esophagus does not close properly, which allows the acid produced to rise again. When this occurs, it exposes sensitive tissues through the esophageal tubing, which can induce painful burning sensations. "
The good news? There are natural solutions, many of which you probably already have on hand, that can keep acid reflux at bay. Here, seven of the best home remedies.
Wear loose clothing.
Do you want an excuse to break your favorite pair of joggers? Look no further: they could help calm heartburn symptoms. Research has shown that wearing tight clothing around the waist puts pressure on the abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter, which causes food and acid to return to the esophagus. Play carefully this season with an expandable and elastic waist: your stomach will thank you.
Eat oatmeal for breakfast.
Adding this staple food could help calm your acid reflux symptoms. "Its absorbent properties can help absorb acid in the stomach, which can help reduce symptoms," says Dr. Sonpal. Even if you are not normally an oatmeal person, having breakfast every morning during the holiday season can help balance the richest dinners to keep your stomach calm.
Try the ginger.
Many different cultures have used ginger to fight stomach problems for thousands of years. And it really works, says Dr. Sonpal: the spicy root has natural anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the production of stomach acid, aids digestion and stops heartburn at its source. Dr. Sonpal says that drinking ginger tea is the best, that way, the hot liquid can also calm the esophagus as it descends.
Drink herbal teas.
Dr. Sonpal says that chamomile, papaya and licorice teas can also relieve acid reflux. "These teas help produce a higher mucous lining of the internal esophagus, preventing stomach acid from causing serious damage," he explains. For the most intense symptoms, look for licorice first; Dr. Sonpal says it has the strongest effects.
When you have heartburn, it can make you feel super full, so drinking plenty of water may not be your first instinct. But drinking a glass when you experience acid reflux can eliminate the irritating acid from your esophagus, Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, a gastroenterologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, told Refinery29 previously. Yep, don't swallow.
Chew this type of gum.
This increases saliva production and makes you swallow more frequently. Additional moisture removes any acidity (to relieve pain at the moment) and covers the esophagus (to protect sensitive tissue). Any chewing gum works, but Dr. Sonpal suggests the sugar-free type. "(Contains) bicarbonate, or sodium bicarbonate," he says. Baking soda is alkaline and can neutralize stomach acid to quickly relieve symptoms. (In case that gives you any idea, Dr. Sonpal does no encourage ingestion of sodium bicarbonate, even mixed with water, for acid reflux).
Keep a food diary.
If heartburn is more than something occasional, Sonpal says you may want to think about keeping a food diary to try to determine exactly what could be causing acid reflux. Write down what you ate, how much, what time it was and any symptoms you experienced later, he says. Over time, you will notice patterns: eating food X caused symptoms Y. Eliminate triggers (the most common are fried or acidic foods) from your diet, or at least reduce and have a game plan for when you eat them (such as having candy ginger close).
Photographed by Eylul Aslan.