Table of contents
1 Heartburn - what helps?
Pay attention to how much you eat Pay attention to when you eat Pay attention to what you eat More tips for nutrition against heartburn Avoid alcohol until the heartburn is over Chew gum Pay attention to how you sleep Integration of drinking meals for heartburn
2 Tips for preventing heartburn
3 Causes of heartburn
4 How does heartburn manifest itself?

If you often wake up with heartburn, you're not alone! The causes of heartburn are just as varied as the potential measures you can take to combat heartburn. We'll show you what causes heartburn and how you can actively prevent it.

Heartburn - what helps?

Where the oesophagus opens into the stomach, there is a ring-shaped muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter. This muscle acts as a valve and is designed to prevent acid from the stomach from flowing into the oesophagus. A healthy sphincter should only open when you swallow or burp, for example. If you suffer from heartburn, the function of this muscle is impaired. If you drink a lot of mineral water, for example, pressure builds up in your stomach, forcing acid through the opening. There are many foods and everyday habits that can lead to heartburn. Fortunately, there are also many measures you can take to combat and prevent heartburn. With these tips, you can put an end to your heartburn!

Pay attention to how much you eat

Food choices play an important role, but the basic rule of thumb is to avoid gulping down large meals quickly and take your time when eating. Most people experience heartburn after eating large meals1 and they can also exacerbate existing heartburn.2

Pay attention to when you eat

People who suffer from heartburn should not eat anything three hours before going to sleep. Eating just before going to bed leads to more severe reflux symptoms.3

Pay attention to what you eat

If you suffer from heartburn, there are certain foods that you should avoid at all costs. These mainly include acidic foods or foods that contain substances that stimulate stomach acid production. These include

  • Carbonated drinks (mineral water, cola, soft drinks etc.)4
  • Acidic juices (e.g. orange, pineapple or grapefruit juice)
  • Acidic foods (tomatoes, pineapple and all citrus fruits)
  • Excessive consumption of foods with a very high fat content and especially fried foods
  • CaffeineIf you still don't want to give up your coffee in the morning, you could switch to espresso. It is roasted for longer, which results in less coffee acidity and instead contains more bitter substances. Nevertheless, the caffeine it contains may relax the sphincter muscle.
  • ChocolateCocoa often leads to serotonin surges (i.e. feelings of happiness). This increase can cause the sphincter muscle of your esophagus to relax. Cocoa can also contain caffeine.5

Despite growing nutritional awareness and improved food safety in developing countries, malnutrition is a pervasive public health issue. While caloric deficiencies and famines are now history in most countries, deficiencies of individual nutrients due to unbalanced diets are on the rise in some countries.1

Integration of drinking meals for heartburn

For people who are prone to heartburn, drinkable meals can be a gentle alternative to solid foods that may trigger heartburn. Meals that are specifically designed for gentle digestion often contain ingredients that are less acid-forming and do not put undue stress on the stomach. By providing easily digestible, nutrient-rich ingredients, they support a healthy diet without containing the typical triggers of heartburn such as fatty, acidic or hard-to-digest foods.

In addition, the liquid form allows for faster digestion, which can reduce pressure in the stomach and thus reduce the likelihood of heartburn. By incorporating hydration meals into your diet, you can provide your body with the nutrients it needs while minimizing the risk of heartburn.

More tips for nutrition against heartburn

  • Water and tea against heartburn: It's best to only drink still water or unsweetened teas to quench your thirst.
  • Mild types of fruit that contain little acid, such as bananas, mangoes, avocados, peaches or grapes, are particularly recommended.
  • All herbs, with the exception of mint, are safe to consume. They also help to spice up your limited choice of dishes without exacerbating heartburn.

Avoid alcohol until the heartburn is over

Alcohol consumption increases the intensity of reflux and heartburn. Even moderate alcohol consumption can cause heartburn. You should therefore avoid alcohol and in particular avoid alcoholic, carbonated drinks such as sparkling wine or beer.7

Chew gum

Chewing gum is a partially effective home remedy for heartburn. Although it cannot prevent stomach acid from flowing into the oesophagus, it can alleviate your symptoms by reducing the acidity in the oesophagus. It also promotes saliva production, which is particularly helpful for heartburn. Insider tip: Buy chewing gum that contains bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is very alkaline and can therefore balance your body's pH level.8

Pay attention to how you sleep

Raise the head end of your bed

Many people suffer from heartburn during the night while they sleep. This affects the quality of sleep and makes it difficult to fall asleep. In this case, consider getting a higher pillow or bending the slatted base of your bed slightly.9

If you are a side sleeper, sleep on your left side

It has been proven that sleeping on your right side can worsen acid reflux at night. Your esophagus opens into the right side of your stomach. So when you lie on your right side, the level of stomach acid covers the lower esophageal sphincter. This increases the risk of acid reflux during sleep.

Tips for preventing heartburn

The measures mentioned above also apply to the prevention of heartburn. Although you may find it easy to adjust your eating and sleeping habits accordingly, you probably don't want to give up tomatoes or citrus fruits for the rest of your life. If you have been affected by heartburn several times, it can be particularly helpful to pay attention to what foods you have eaten and how you felt afterwards. This may allow you to identify certain triggers that vary from person to person. If you are very overweight, losing weight will help to reduce the pressure in your stomach and therefore the strain on the lower esophageal sphincter.

Causes of heartburn

Heartburn is a major symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and is caused by the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. All risk factors and causes of heartburn either increase the production of stomach acid and/or cause structural changes (relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter) that allow stomach acid to flow more easily into the esophagus.

In addition to the foods mentioned above, there are also various over-the-counter medications that can trigger heartburn. These include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen in particular. The following conditions and habits are also proven risk factors for heartburn:

  • Smoking can impair the function of the lower esophageal sphincter, causing acid to back up into the esophagus10
  • Pregnancy can lead to increased pressure in the abdomen and impair the function of the sphincter.
  • In the same way, obesity can also lead to increased abdominal pressure and cause heartburn.
  • In addition to GERD, heartburn is also a symptom of other primary diseases of the oesophagus, such as sacoidosis and scleroderma.
  • A hiatal hernia, where part of the abdomen lies in the chest instead of the abdomen, can affect the functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter and is a risk factor for acid reflux and therefore heartburn. The hiatal hernia itself does not cause any symptoms. Heartburn only occurs when the sphincter muscle fails11

How does heartburn manifest itself?

The pain caused by heartburn is usually felt as a burning sensation behind the breastbone. The pain of heartburn can often be confused with the pain of a heart attack.

The pain may remain in the lower chest or radiate to the back of the throat, causing a sour taste. If there is acid reflux near the larynx in the throat, it can even cause coughing fits or hoarseness. Chronic untreated reflux over long periods of time can be so severe that the acid attacks the enamel on the teeth, causing tooth decay.

Even if the pain doesn't particularly bother you, you should never ignore heartburn:

If heartburn is ignored, recurring irritation and inflammation of the esophagus can lead to ulcers. These can cause severe bleeding. Reflux can also damage cells in the esophagus. This can lead to a condition called Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is strongly associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.12

FAQ - Frequently asked questions about heartburn

What helps with heartburn?

Changing your sleeping and eating habits is the be-all and end-all in combating heartburn. Losing weight and giving up alcohol or smoking also help.

What to eat with heartburn?

Low-fat meals, mild types of fruit, herbs and generally alkaline (i.e. non-acidic) foods are particularly recommended for heartburn.

What does heartburn feel like?

Heartburn usually feels like a burning sensation in the center of your chest, behind the breastbone. This feeling can last for several hours and radiate into the throat. Heartburn usually occurs in the morning after waking up.

Where does heartburn come from?

Heartburn is caused by stomach acid that flows into the oesophagus and irritates the tissue there.

Collapsible content


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