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If you are among the whopping 45 percent of Americans who experience heartburn (also known as acid reflux) at least once per month, there are some natural options that can help avoid the familiar searing pain in your chest.

While over-the-counter medicines do a pretty good job at calming the symptoms, most acid reflux can be remedied with lifestyle and diet modifications. Make these changes and keep a log of how your acid reflux responds.

  • Eat smaller meals that are lower in fat.
  • Avoid foods that trigger heartburn: fried, spicy and tomato-based foods, chocolate and citrus fruits. Keep a food journal so you can learn which foods are your triggers.
  • Give up alcohol and smoking. Both can weaken the muscle between your stomach and esophagus, making it easier for stomach acid to escape.
  • Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Give your stomach time to digest before lying down.
  • Try natural supplements known to tame stomach acid, such as licorice (look for the DGL variety) and magnesium.

If your heartburn is persistent or if you have severe symptoms, tell your doctor. Acid reflux is a known risk factor for esophageal cancer, and your doctor can help you get your symptoms under control to limit any further health implications.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointmen

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