Heartburn causes and treatment
Heartburn is becoming more and more of an issue, people struggle with in a modern society. Have you experienced heartburn and have you struggled to find relief from the symptoms or wondered if you are able to get rid of it altogether?
In the below article I will cover what is heartburn, what are the signs for heartburn, what causes it and also what are the natural treatments for the symptoms.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn causes painful burning feeling in the upper abdomen or chest and is a form of uncomfortable indigestion. It's closely related to acid reflux. If you are regularly experiencing heartburn, then you could have also developed GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
If you wonder what are the differences between heartburn, acid reflux and GERD, then acid reflux is the flow of acid from your stomach into the oesophagus that causes heartburn. Some acid reflux in healthy people is normal as long as it does not cause pain. With GERD it's much more serious as over time it can cause permanent to tissue within the oesophagus (could even turn into cancer). If your heartburn has developed into GERD, you have difficulties with swallowing, chronic coughing, difficulties with breathing and severe chest pain. Very often this severe GERD symptoms happen at night and keep coming back.
When you have heartburn, you tend to experience:
burning unpleasant feeling in the chest after the meal
Burping or passing gas after meals
Noises in the stomach
Have difficulties with sleeping or laying down because of pain
Gum tenderness and bleeding
Swelling and pain in the throat
Bad breath due to acidic foods and sour taste in your mouth
People who are experiencing heart burn, need to dig deeper to understand if there are bigger underlying issues, such as disfunction of the gut. If the gut issues are not being addressed (a person may have a leaky gut), this could lead to nutrient deficiencies, low immunity and low energy levels.
Heartburn develops, when stomach contents (including acids) or gas like up into your food pipe and irritate the lining of the oesophagus. Despite what people assume, acid reflux symptoms are not signs that you have high stomach acid. Very often it's other way around. Many people with indigestion produce too little stomach acid, but they consume foods that lead to acidity. In order to improve this issue, you want to naturally balance pH levels of your stomach, which leads to more alkaline environment.
It can take time to figure out what exactly is causing your heartburn symptoms. But there are specific foods and lifestyle habits that are known to trigger heartburn or acid reflux.
Heartburn and acid reflux causes
Unhealthy diet, with lots of processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined grains, high-sodium foods
Eating large meals, especially close to bedtime
Being obese or overweight
Food allergies or sensitivities
High stress levels
Nutrient deficiencies (like magnesium, potassium)
Using certain medications, like ibuprofen, aspirin, antibiotics, muscle relaxers, some blood pressure medications
Older age- heartburn and GERD issues increase with age due to natural changes in the acid and saliva production as well as slower digestion
A history of hiatal hernias
Not moving enough
How to treat heartburn naturally?
It's common for people to use antacid medication to alleviate symptoms. But unless you make lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle, the heartburn is likely to come back.
Improve your diet and avoid foods that trigger heartburn:
Avoid processed foods high in sugar, refined oils, additives, salt
Avoid caffeinated drinks
Avoid energy, sugary and carbonated drinks
Limit or quit consuming added sugar or any artificial sweeteners
Limit frying foods, especially with oils like vegetables oils
You might want to cut back on acidic foods like tomatoes, garlic, onion, citrus fruits
Consume more vegetables (like asparagus, cucumbers, leafy greens, artichoke, ginger, fennel), healthy fats, herbs like parsley, bone broth, probiotic foods, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef etc.
You might also want to try and take digestive enzymes and taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small glass fo water before your meal.
Also, eat smaller portion sizes, as it has then less pressure on the digestive system. And make sure you don't eat 3-4 hours before bed to allow the digestion to finish before falling asleep.
Try and limit your intake of caffeine to no more than 1 to 2 cups a day (if you are unable to quit consuming drinks like coffee or energy drinks) and drink the caffeinated beverages before lunch to make sure you don't affect your sleep at night.
Maintain healthy weight and exercise regularly
It's important to engage with regular movement and avoid long periods of sitting. Exercise also helps to reduce inflammation in your body, help you to cope with stress better and improve sleep.
Avoid too much alcohol and smoking
If you consume too much alcohol and also smoke, you impair your muscle reflexes, increase the production of acid as well as influence the inflammation levels in the body.
Sleep with your head higher than your digestive organs
This will help stop stomach acid from coming up.
If the heartburn symptoms keep coming back even after doing the above, then it's best to consult with your doctor.