Rob Hobson August 23, 2019

Indigestion and heartburn affect us all at some point, but for many they are chronic problems that seriously affect quality of life. However, there are many things you can do to manage the unpleasant symptoms - starting with your diet. 

What are the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn?

Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, and heartburn are common, unpleasant symptoms of impaired digestion. Symptoms of indigestion include upper abdominal fullness nausea, wind, upper abdominal pain and reflux. Heartburn - burning pain the chest - is a symptom of acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acids move back up the oesphagus. If this occurs regularly then you may be diagnosed with a condition known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

What foods should you be eating?

Choosing the right foods to eat can reduce the occurrence of indigestion and heartburn:

  • Try to follow a low-fat diet as high-fat (rich) foods such as full-fat dairy, fatty cuts of meat or rich puddings can take longer to digest encouraging more stomach acid to be produced and increasing the risk of heartburn.
  • Compose your meals as a good balance of starchy foods, vegetables and lean protein (protein helps to stimulate the gall bladder to produce more bile that aids digestion).
  • Include oily fish in your diet each week as they contain omega 3 fatty acids that may help to tackle inflammation in the gut wall.

What foods should you avoid?

There are also foods that you should avoid eating to reduce the risk of indigestion:

  • Try to avoid raw vegetables to see if this helps with indigestion as they can be difficult to digest.
  • Beans, pulses and lentils are very high in fibre and can cause bloating, especially if you’re not used to eating them. Introduce these foods into your diet slowly and make sure you drink plenty of water to allow the fibre to swell and do its job.
  • Consider cutting back on 'windy' vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to help reduce bloating.
  • Avoid spicy foods and caffeinated drinks, which can all increase the production of stomach acid.
  • Reduce your intake of alcohol and fizzy drinks as these exacerbate indigestion and heartburn.

There are so many different reasons why you may suffer with indigestion and heartburn. As a 'one-off', indigestion may be anticipated as a result of over-indulgence, but if the problem persists then there are plenty of ways you can tackle the issue by making simple changes to your diet.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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