Did summer’s backyard barbecues, ice-cream treats, and fruity cocktails leave you feeling less than great? Don’t let digestive issues like cramps, indigestion, and heartburn put a damper on your day. These natural, science-based swaps can help you enjoy the foods you love without the discomfort.
Indigestion? Switch from spearmint gum to fruity gum.
Studies show chewing sugar-free gum for a half hour after eating quashes indigestion by washing painful acids out of the esophagus.
The trick: Choose fruity or cinnamon rather than mint gum. Turns out, menthol weakens the “door” between the esophagus and stomach, allowing acid to splash up.
The effect is so pronounced, a new study suggests making this simple swap would quash pain for 100 percent of folks with chronic reflux. To get the digestive benefits, choose a gum containing bi carbonate, a study-backed acid-neutralizer proven to tamp down indigestion even better than ordinary gum.
Cramping? Switch from dairy to coconut ice cream.
You don’t have to be lactose-intolerant to have a bad reaction to dairy. Lactose, a sugar found only in dairy, is part of a family of tough-to-digest carbs called FODMAPs that gut bacteria use as fuel. As these bacteria power up, they emit the hydrogen gas that’s responsible for bloat and cramps.
“FODMAPs reach a deeper part of the intestine, where most of your gut bacteria reside, causing discomfort,” explains bariatric dietitian Melissa Rifkin with Montefiore Medical Center. Luckily, recent Italian research finds you can cut symptoms up to 70 percent by trading dairy ice cream for a trendy coconut version. ( We love Häagen-Dazs Coconut Caramel Non-Dairy Ice Cream!)
Heartburn? Switch from Prilosec to melatonin.
You’ve probably heard that the natural hormone melatonin boosts restful sleep — but it turns out “nature’s sleeping pill” has a hidden talent: It relieves severe heartburn better than Prilosec. Indeed, in one university study, 100 percent of folks who took melatonin daily eliminated heartburn symptoms in just over a month, compared to just 66 percent of those who took the drug — and without the serious side effects of PPIs.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.