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A burning question: How to prevent heartburn

That dreaded fiery heartburn that comes to pester you after a meal is enough to make you swear off spicy flavours and any drink that worsens the effects. Although there are common culprits who are to blame for the discomfort, there are also easy lifestyle remedies that can help ease the pain.

By Jana du Plessis


A natural conclusion to draw is that heartburn is the result of too much acidity in the digestive tract, however, in many cases, it actually points to not having enough stomach acid to properly break down the food consumed. Stomach acid plays a vital role in chemically breaking down food and protein, and works together with the mechanical process of peristalsis (contractions of the stomach wall) that combines the food with the enzymes in your gut. Without both of these processes, the food ingested cannot be dealt with and that can lead to the problem of heartburn.


It’s quick and easy to pop an anti-acid to soothe the burn, but that won’t address the root cause. Avoid spicy foods and an excessive amount of fatty foods and alcohol, as these are generally the biggest offenders when it comes to symptoms of heartburn. Coffee could also worsen the problem as well as eating too much in one sitting.


Lay off the carbonated drinks and rather reach for lemon or mint-flavoured water (lemon juice actually helps to neutralise acidity), a tonic of warm water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is said to help with acidity in the stomach and chewing your food until liquid can also help. Include fibre like wholegrains, fruit and veg to help with digestion and be mindful of eating until you’re about 80% full to avoid discomfort.

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