Tips to Put a Stop to Indigestion

When people say “indigestion,” they're often referring to heartburn, or acid reflux, which often manifests as a burning sensation in the middle of the lower chest. Others think of indigestion as belching, bloating, feeling gassy or excessively full, inability to finish a meal, or pain in the abdomen after eating. Regardless of what form it takes, indigestion is no fun. But with a few smart steps, you can keep heartburn from ruining your post-meal activities.

  • Limit “LES” relaxers. A small circular muscle at the bottom of the esophagus—the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—opens to let food pass through to the stomach, but closes immediately after each swallow passes, to prevent stomach acid from splashing up into the esophagus. Some foods and beverages relax the LES muscle, increasing the risk of heartburn. This includes high-fat items—fried foods, high-fat baked goods, cream, ice cream, high-fat cheeses, sausage and bacon, and potato chips—and chocolate and coffee. Limit these LES relaxers, as well as alcohol, mint, citrus, tomatoes, and/or carbonated beverages, which can further irritate the esophagus.
  • Be picky. Make a plan before you lay eyes on the food. Skip the things that aren’t absolute “must haves.” If you must taste everything to avoid hurt feelings, take just one bite of the things you don’t really love, and enjoy a bit more of what you do.
  • Eat slowly, chew carefully. Take one bite at a time, and chew thoroughly. Set your fork down between bites, and take that moment to connect with family and friends. After all, shared meals are about being with those we love, not about stuffing ourselves.

Source: Archives of Endocrinology and Metabolism

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