SOURCE: Business School of Happiness

June 30, 2011 06:00 ET

6 Easy Steps to Stop Heartburn and Acid Reflux

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 30, 2011) - Sixty million Americans say that they suffer from heartburn at least once a month and 25 million report daily symptoms of acid reflux, according to the American Gastroenterology Association. More than 40% of us use an antacid weekly.

Many experts think that the problem is age related and often unavoidable. Others say it results from big meals and chronic over-eating. Repeated exposure to stomach acid over many years can cause the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach to become weak allowing acid to backwash into the esophagus. Big meals create stomach pressure, exacerbating the problem. The esophagus was not designed to handle this acid and the damage caused often results in a condition called Barrett's esophagus which causes abnormal cell changes. When left untreated, it can contribute to the development of stomach cancer. Today, acid reflux is becoming common in adolescents.

"Acid reflux is a serious, but preventable condition," say co-authors Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel of the new book, TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (BSH, 2011). "It causes interruptions in sleep patterns which can lead to many other health issues."

"Heartburn medicines can reduce stomach acid which will reduce symptoms but also interfere with proper digestion which can trigger many other health related problems," say the Griesels.

Our digestive system will do its best to handle anything we eat. However, combining carbohydrates with proteins or fats creates a situation our stomachs really can't handle, because proteins require acid for digestion, while starches require an alkaline environment. Putting them both in the stomach at the same time is asking for trouble.

Here are six ways you can eliminate acid reflux and heartburn:

1. Avoid "balanced" meals.
2. Separate carbohydrates and proteins or proteins/fats during meals.
3. Avoid refined, processed and packaged foods that usually consist of these heartburn-causing combinations.
4. Eat smaller meals.
5. Eat one type of food per meal: either a fruit meal, vegetable meal, protein meal or protein/fat meal is ideal.
6. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Thirst is often disguised as hunger.

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