Acid reflux or heartburn occurs when the stomach from your acid moves back to the esophagus. It's the tube through which food passes down to the stomach.
You will feel a sour liquid in your mouth along with irritation in the esophagus.
If you're experiencing heartburn frequently, you should speak to your doctor about it. As for at-home remedies, exercise is an excellent way to lose weight, which is one of the causes of heartburn. However, some people may experience heartburn after exercise or during a workout.
If you can relate, follow these six tips to ease exercise heartburn.
Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks before exercising
Often, people drink coffee or use caffeine-containing pre-workout supplements that later cause heartburn while they're exercising.
A 2019 study showed that participants who drank more drinks containing caffeine, such as tea or coffee, had more symptoms of acid reflux.
If your pre-workout drink contains caffeine, you might want to skip it before you work out the next time.
Don't eat a heavy meal before working out
The esophageal sphincter is a ring-like muscle present where your esophagus meets the stomach.
This muscle prevents the stomach acid from pouring into the esophagus. If the muscle gets weak, it cannot perform its functions properly and lead to acid reflux.
Another reason for acid reflux is pressure on the esophageal sphincter. If you eat a heavy meal, it will fill your stomach to its capacity. That causes the stomach acids to move upward and apply pressure on this muscle.
As a result, you'll experience heartburn. Don't eat a heavy meal before working out if you want to prevent acid reflux while exercising.
Try to keep a difference of at least two hours between eating and exercising. Eat larger meals three to four hours before exercising and snacks one to three hours before hitting the gym.
Consume plenty of proteins as they help in muscle growth and recovery, allowing you to get the best of your workout.
A protein-rich meal also improves your muscle performance and increases lean body mass.
If you're going to work out in the next two or three hours, eat brown rice with roasted vegetables or a sandwich with whole-grain bread and a salad.
If you're eating fats, make sure you consume them a few hours before you work out.
Another way to prevent acid reflux while exercising is to chew gum.
Some studies show that chewing gum can help lower stomach acidity. Since it improves saliva production in your mouth, it may also remove extra acid from the esophagus.
Avoid eating chocolate or drinking beverages with chocolate
If you have a habit of snacking on chocolate before you work out, it may cause heartburn. There is not enough evidence to prove that chocolate causes heartburn. But some studies show that it makes the esophageal sphincter weak.
In a small study, researchers found that study subjects who ate four ounces of chocolate syrup then showed a weakening of the esophageal sphincter.
Similarly, another study showed that people who drank a chocolate beverage had more stomach acid in their esophagus as compared to those who did not drink it.
More studies are needed to prove this association. However, you should still limit your chocolate consumption to be on the safe side.
Sleep on your left side
If you work out in the morning, sleeping on your right side may be one of the causes of heartburn during exercise.
Several studies have shown that people who sleep on their right side have worse symptoms of acid reflux than those who sleep on their left.
The exact reason for this is unknown. However, experts suspect that it may be due to the positioning of the esophagus in the body.
Your esophagus enters the stomach from the right side. So, when you sleep on your right side, the acid covers the muscle or esophageal sphincter.
This increases the risk of stomach acids flowing into the esophagus and causing heartburn.
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Lower your workout intensity
You may be working out too intensely, and that's causing heartburn. High-impact activities, like jumping and running, increase the risk of acid reflux.
Similarly, if you lift heavy weights in the gym, they could be the reason for your heartburn. A 2003 study compared the likelihood of acid reflux in runners, weight lifters, and cyclists. The results showed that runners had a lower chance of getting acid reflux than weight lifters.
The authors suggested that this could be due to the high intensity of weight lifters' workouts. If you frequently get heartburn during exercise, try yoga or walking.
With these acid reflux remedies, you can successfully reduce discomfort while exercising.
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American Journal of Digestive Diseases: "The adverse effect of chocolate on lower esophageal sphincter pressure."
American Journal of Gastroenterology: "Chocolate and heartburn: evidence of increased esophageal acid exposure after chocolate ingestion."," Effect of different recumbent positions on postprandial gastroesophageal reflux in normal subjects."
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: "Association Between Beverage Intake and Incidence of Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms."
Digestion: "Oesophageal acid and salivary secretion: is chewing gum a treatment option for gastro-oesophageal reflux?."
Gut: "An evidence-based appraisal of reflux disease management--the Genval Workshop Report."
Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition: "International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing."
Mayo Clinic: "Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts."
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: "Esophageal Reflux in Conditioned Runners, Cyclists, and Weightlifters."
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Heartburn is a burning sensation experienced from acid reflux (GERD). Symptoms of heartburn include chest pain, burning in the throat, difficulty swallowing, the feeling of food sticking in the throat, and a burning feeling in the chest.
Causes of heartburn include dietary habits, lifestyle habits, and medical causes.
Treatments for heartburn include lifestyle changes, OTC medication,prescription medication, and surgery.
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Acid Reflux (Heartburn, GERD): Symptoms & RemediesHeartburn is a symptom of acid reflux that causes chest pain when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Heartburn symptoms may mimic chest pain that occurs during a heart attack. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may produce other symptoms.
Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux (Differences and Similarities)
Heartburn and acid reflux are not the same thing. Heartburn is actually a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn gets its name because it feels like a burning sensation around the heart. Another symptom that occurs with heartburn is a bitter or sour taste in the mouth, usually when you eat or lye down. Heartburn affects more than 60 million people in the US at least once a month. Acid reflux, or GERD, occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, which irritates it. Heartburn is just one symptom of acid reflux. Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Nausea after eating
- A feeling of fullness during or after eating
- Abdominal bloating
- Upset stomach
- Reflux laryngitis
- A tightness in the throat
- Problems swallowing
- In some people, vomiting
Causes of acid reflux and heartburn include:
- Being obese
- Slouching (poor posture)
- Medications like calcium channel blockers, theophylline, nitrates, and antihistamines
- Foods and drinks like caffeine, citrus fruits and vegetables, alcohol, and chocolate
- Increase in stomach acid
- Eating a heavy meal
- Eating before bed
The treatment for heartburn and acid reflux is to treat the underlying cause, for example, GERD, with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, prescription medicine, natural remedies, and lifestyle changes like a eating a healthy, less fatty, spicy diet, not eating big meals, not eating before bed, and getting regular exercise to improve your posture.
Sometimes a heart attack can mimic heartburn and acid reflux because they feel very similar. If you have symptoms of chest pain, tightness in the chest, heartburn, acid reflux, jaw, tooth, or head pain; shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, discomfort in the upper middle of the abdomen, arm or upper back pain, or the general feeling of being ill, go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately because these are the symptoms of a heart attack.
American College of Gastroenterology. "Acid Reflux." 2017.
familydoctor.org. "Heartburn." Updated: Mar 2014.
National Library of Medicine; PubMed Health. "Heartburn and GERD: Treatment options for GERD." Updated: Nov 18, 2015.
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