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Dietary remedies for heartburn (reflux)


Many people suffer from a burning sensation in their chest commonly known as reflux or heartburn. Not the most sexy topic dealt with by dietitians, but definitely a common one and one that can often be managed with just a few changes to your diet.


So let’s have a look at what’s happening in your body when you feel that burning pain and what you can do about it.


Is my heart burning?


Despite what the name heartburn suggests, it’s not your heart burning, it’s your oesophagus! My what?? Your oesophagus: the pipe connecting your mouth to your stomach.


Heartburn results  from the faulty control of the lower oesophageal sphincter. This allows the stomach acid to splash back into the oesophagus, which results in the discomfort and pain known as ‘heartburn’ . The burning sensation is right near your heart, hence the expression ‘heartburn’.


Dealing with heartburn


There are several medications that are used to treat the symptoms of heartburn by neutralising the stomach acid. The medications just treat the symptoms of heartburn though, and don’t actually prevent the reflux of stomach acid up into your oesophagus.


There are some easy lifestyle and diet changes you can make that will reduce the amount of acid reflux and heartburn you feel.


Some of the main food culprits that aggravate heartburn symptoms are:

  • High-fat foods and fried foods.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Onions and garlic.
  • Chocolate.
  • Peppermint.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Chilli.
  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee.
  • Soft drinks drinks and sparkling water (the bubbles can cause you to swallow air which makes acid reflux worse).

Eating slowly, chewing your food well and sitting upright after a meal can also help reduce heartburn.  As can losing weight if you are carrying a little extra.


Why bother?


If this all seems like it’s too much hard work just to get rid of a bit of heartburn, think again. If reflux persists, the acid can damage the oesophagus which can lead to some serious health implications such as dental problems, ulcers and worst of all a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which is a precursor to cancer of the oesophagus.  Suddenly chewing well and sitting upright doesn’t seem so bad....



This article was written by SEH dietitian and nutritionist, Julie Markoska. If you have symptoms of Heartburn please call SEH to make an appointment for more personalised nutrition advice.






Sydney Essential Health is situated in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, 5 minutes walk from the centre of Bondi Junction and close to Woollahra, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill, Paddington, Edgecliff, Randwick, Coogee and Bondi. Also only a quick train or bus ride from the city of Sydney and Sydney CBD. Click here for map and contact details.

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