Dark-roasted decaf coffee eases heartburn
You enjoy drinking coffee, but not the heartburn that follows. Switching to a dark-roasted coffee could help. Researchers discovered that dark-roasted coffee contains a compound that helps reduce stomach acid. Called N-methylpyridinium (NMP), this compound is generated only with roasting. So dark-roasted coffee contains more of it — up to twice as much as light-roasted varieties. Unlike NMP, caffeine helps stimulate the secretion of stomach acid. So a dark-roasted decaf coffee eases heartburn better than caffeinated.
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Take the heat out of heartburn with these other simple tricks.
- Eat less, more often. Small, frequent meals, say four to six light helpings a day, are healthier than three large ones. Avoid stuffing yourself.
- Ban late-night snacks. Avoid eating just before bedtime. Don’t even lie down for four hours after eating.
- Think bland. Fatty and spicy dishes will irritate your stomach lining and esophagus. Some of the worst offenders are tomato products, onions, and peppers.
- Choco-holics beware. Some experts claim that chocolate and chocolate drinks are the number one cause of heartburn. They’ll have you doubled over before you can say “double fudge.”
- Say “no way” to oj. Stay away from citrus fruits and juices. A survey of 400 heartburn sufferers showed that grapefruit juice caused more heartburn than any other beverage, followed closely by orange juice and tomato-containing juices. These fruits are irritating because of their high acid content.
- Pass on the after-dinner mint. Peppermint and spearmint may give you refreshing breath, but they can also give you heartburn.
- Give your jaw a workout. The more you chew, the more acid-neutralizing saliva you produce. Take small bites and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. After eating, chew a piece of sugarless gum.
- Watch what you drink. Cut down on coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, and whole milk. These tend to irritate your stomach lining.
- Timing is everything. Drink liquids about an hour before or after meals to keep your stomach from bloating. Don’t mix foods and liquids.
- Improve your posture. Sit up straight when you’re eating — never stand or lie down. And don’t bend over immediately after eating. This forces food and digestive acids back up into your esophagus.
- Do one thing at a time. Don’t eat while working, playing, or driving.
- Avoid tight clothes. Don’t wear clothes and belts that fit tightly around your stomach. Choose clothes that fit loosely at your waistline.
- Slim down. If you are overweight, losing those extra pounds may help relieve your symptoms. The extra weight squeezes your belly and forces the acidic digestive juices back up into your windpipe.
- Give up smoking. And if you’re already trying to quit, don’t wear your nicotine patch to bed. The nicotine it releases can cause heartburn.
- Treat yourself. Suck on sugarless hard candy during the day, but avoid those that are peppermint flavored.
- Get support while you sleep. Use 4- to 6-inch wooden blocks or bricks to raise the head of your bed. Or, put a foam wedge beneath your upper body. This keeps digestive juices flowing down instead of up as you sleep. Extra pillows usually won’t do the trick. They merely force a bend at your waist.
- Down the hatch. Drink plenty of water with your medications, and don’t lie down after swallowing a pill. This helps the pills go down and stay down.
- Take it easy. Avoid straining and heavy lifting. This causes your abdominal muscles to contract and squeeze the contents of your stomach up and into your esophagus.
- Flush out your system. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep the digestive acids washed out of your esophagus.
- Know your medications. Talk to your doctor if you are taking any heart or blood pressure medicines. These can affect the sphincter between your esophagus and stomach, allowing acid to back up into your esophagus.
If your heartburn ever becomes severe and is accompanied by nausea, sweating, weakness, fainting, or breathlessness, or pain that extends from your chest to your arm or jaw, you may have something much worse than a pepperoni pizza that didn’t sit well. These symptoms could be indications of a heart attack. Call for emergency help.
- FC&A Staff Writer