If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you know that I have been suffering from acid reflux since late 2010. According to my doctor, the condition was very likely caused by doxycycline, a medication I took for 6 months as a malaria prophylactic.
I have since taken various medications, including Zantac, omeprazole (Prilosec) and a number of antacids. I have also tried to control my diet, avoiding specific foods, overeating, and eating before laying down. I still drink alcohol, and I have not completely eliminated certain foods that aggravate heartburn. I’m aware that I could be doing more to alleviate the problem.
All of that said, I want to share what is my number one secret for fighting heartburn. It does not involve pills or dietary changes. Some of you may know about this trick, but I’m astonished by how many people suffering heartburn have simply not heard of it.
Ready? Here it is: chewing gum.
Yes, chewing gum. Gum helps you produce saliva. Saliva is basic. This has the effect of neutralizing stomach acid. At the same time, the increased saliva helps remineralize your teeth.
I go for gum with xylitol, which is a natural sugar, one that bacteria are unable to use for growth. This has the added benefit of depriving cavity-causing bacteria of food. Manage your stomach acid and help your teeth at the same time – pretty good deal!
While there are many sugar-free gums that contain xylitol, I try to avoid those that contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame. If you see aspartame or phenylalanine as an ingredient, avoid it. These ingredients are likely harmful to your long-term health, especially if you plan on chewing this gum on a daily basis, after every meal (as I do).
My recommendation is for a chewing gum that features xylitol and natural flavorings, but no aspartame or phenylalanine. You should also try to avoid mint flavoring, as mint can aggravate your heartburn. While mint does not stimulate acid creation, it relaxes the muscle between your stomach and your esophagus, allowing acid to easily flow upwards. Xyloburst makes a great cinnamon flavored gum with no artificial flavoring and plenty of xylitol. While it may seem pricey, I find it’s worth it. It helps me control my acid reflux, and it makes my teeth stronger.
If you have any of your own tips or secrets for managing acid reflux, please drop them in the comments.