If you experience frequent indigestion or heartburn, please join me. Millions have ongoing digestive health problems of some sort. It can be a sign of overeating, choosing the wrong foods, or a more serious problem. A few simple lifestyle changes can alleviate heartburn and indigestion – eating smaller, more frequent meals. This will decrease pressure on your abdomen and make it less likely for you to experience heartburn.
Other preventive tips:
- Eat in a relaxing atmosphere.
- Wear clothing that isn’t too tight around your waist and abdomen.
- Don’t lie down after eating, or do a lot of bending and lifting.
- Sleep with an extra pillow or elevate the head of your bed to make gravity work for you.
A number of food can trigger heartburn or indigestion by relaxing the band of muscles at the end of your esophagus so it can’t keep out stomach acid. Here are some common gastric irritants you might want to avoid:
- spicy foods with black pepper or chili powder
- garlic and raw onions
- citrus foods like tomatoes, oranges, and grapefruit
- fried or fatty foods that slow digestion
- anything with caffeine such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate
If your problem continues or if you regularly have severe heartburn (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD), see your doctor.
For overall healthy digestion and to minimize acid reflux, make sure you get plenty of fiber from a variety of vegetables, non-citrus fruits, and whole grains. Drink enough fluids to help your body absorb important nutrients and lubricate food waste. And exercise regularly. Use low-fat methods when cooking, for example, substituting broth for butter or oil when you saute, and replacing oil with applesauce (cup for cup) when you’re baking. Herbal chamomile tea is said to have a calming effect on the stomach, so try some after you eat or before bed.
And here are some meal and snack suggestions from Saka that are stomach-friendly:
Bowl of Oatmeal with Raisins or Blueberries
Starting the morning with oatmeal will give you a nutrition-packed start to your day. Oatmeal is high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, provides 20 percent of your daily vitamin A, and delivers 41 percent of your RDA for iron. Combine it with some skim milk and you’ll get 15 percent of your daily requirement of calcium. Throw in some raisins for some extra iron and potassium, or blueberries for more antioxidants and vitamin C.
Recommended Serving Size: 1/2 cup oatmeal, about 93 calories 1/2 cup skim milk, about 40 calories 1 miniature box of raisins, about 42 calories 1/2 cup blueberries, about 40 calories
You can’t beat turkey if you want a lean, nutrient-packed protein source that’ll be easy on your stomach. Eat a turkey sandwich for lunch and you’ll get 28 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and more than 34 percent of your daily niacin needs, which decreases cholesterol levels.
Recommended Serving Size: 2 oz. turkey, about 110 calories 2 slices whole wheat bread, about 140 calories
Salmon, Zucchini, and Potato Kebab
Cut up some salmon (or another fish of your choice), zucchini, and potatoes (leave the skin on to get the most fiber and vitamin C) into cubes or bite-sized pieces and pop the skewer on the grill or in the broiler. The salmon gives you protein, B vitamins, and phosphorus. And it’s a perfect source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks, and even protect against cancer. And the zucchini is packed with vitamins and minerals, too!
Recommended Serving Size: 3 oz. salmon, about 165 calories 1 small 3 oz. potato, about 80 calories 1/2 cup zucchini, about 25 calories
Grilled Chicken with Carrots
Without the skin, chicken is a terrific low-fat source of protein. Easy to cook either indoors or out, you also get iron, 26 percent of your RDA of vitamin B6, and the antioxidant selenium. You won’t find another food with more beta-carotene than you get in carrots, giving you 242 percent of your RDA of vitamin A and 3 grams of fiber too.
Recommended Serving Size: 3 oz. grilled chicken, about 142 calories 1/2 cup steamed carrots, about 27 calories
Apples and Grapes
Both apples and grapes are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and are a great source of vitamin C. You’ll also get 3 grams of dietary fiber if you choose an apple as your snack or dessert.
Recommended Serving Size: 1 apple, about 65 calories 1 cup grapes, about 110 calories.