With a recent FDA recall of the over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac due to the detection of cancer-causing impurities, people who suffer acid reflux or ulcers will want to talk with their doctor about alternative medications. Certain foods can also help reduce the symptoms of heartburn by fighting the acid that burns as it travels up the esophagus.
According to a recent AARP Video Spotlight, bananas help combat heartburn by coating the esophagus keeping acid from causing irritation. Bananas also contain fiber which helps keep food moving through the digestive system. Melons are an alkaline fruit that unlike citrus won’t irritate the stomach; they also contain magnesium, a common ingredient in antacid medications. Oatmeal is also rich in fiber to maintain healthy digestion and is a filling food, helping to prevent over-eating which may lead to heartburn. Low-fat yogurt is soothing on the stomach and promotes digestion while providing a good source of protein. Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale and brussels sprouts are also alkaline which may help neutralize acid in the stomach. Heartburn sufferers can hop on the avocado toast bandwagon and enjoy a healthy fat that can also help calm acid reflux.
According to a recent Health Essentials post by the Cleveland Clinic, heartburn is more common among older adults; studies have shown that a quarter of people over the age of 75 take medication for heartburn. Aging muscles in the lower esophagus may weaken over time and not work as well to keep acid from travelling upwards. Being overweight can also weaken the esophageal sphincter and increase the risk of developing heartburn. Certain blood pressure and antidepressant medications or opiates can also contribute to heartburn. And for some adults, a hiatal hernia which pushes the upper part of the stomach into the chest cavity may be responsible for heartburn symptoms. It is estimated that 60 percent of people over the age of 60 have a hiatal hernia.
If you have heartburn symptoms more than twice a week, talk with your doctor about treatment options. Sleeping on your left side with your head elevated at night may help heartburn symptoms that become worse at night. If you have difficulty swallowing or experience weight loss or anemia, see a doctor right away.