Everything you need to know about heartburn
Heart burn is more than something you get if you eat too late at night. I’ve often wondered why I get heart burn. I know that it has something to do with stomach acid, and that the food I eat is the major cause. I’ve often had heart burn even if I hadn’t eaten anything and wondered if my body was telling me that I’m doing something wrong.
If you have the same questions as me, you will be delighted to know that I’ve scoured the web to find out what the most probable causes of heartburn are. I really hope you benefit from the hours that I’ve put into this particular article.
What exactly is heartburn?
Medline Plus explains that heartburn refers to the burning sensation you get in your throat or chest. This is caused by stomach acid that escapes into your esophagus. The esophagus is the pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Heartburn is not caused by trapped air
Heartburn is caused by stomach acid. If you feel trapped wind in your chest, this is something totally different.
Heartburn and GERD
According to Medline Plus, regular heartburn occurrence (more than twice a week) can indicate GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). They say that it’s possible to have GERD without having heartburn, though.
When food or liquid comes down the throat, the lower part of the oesophagus relaxes so that the food can pass into the stomach. It remains tight throughout the rest of the time so that stomach acid doesn’t enter the oesophagus. When acid enters into the oesophagus, it is known as acid reflux. GERD comes from acid reflux. If the bottom of the oesophagus does not tighten the way that it should all the time, this is GERD. Learn more about GERD from Mayo Clinic.
Is too much heartburn bad?
If you have heartburn regularly, the stomach acid can damage the oesophagus. Acid can irritate its lining and cause inflammation. Almost everybody has heartburn every now and then – so don’t worry if it happens to you from time to time. If it is happening regularly, you should check up with your doctor to see if everything is OK.
Common (non-food) causes of heartburn
The most common non-food causes of heart are:
• Certain medications
Foods that cause heartburn
The most common food-related causes of heartburn are foods that are high in fat, large meals and midnight snacks. Large meals make it difficult for the bottom of the oesophagus to stay closed. Fatty foods cause heartburn because they sit in your stomach for longer and encourage the production of more stomach acid. Eating food too close to bed time encourages heartburn because stomach acid can leak into the oesophagus when you lie down and start to relax.
• Alcohol (red wine in particular)
• Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, green tea (although it is really healthy) and soda
• Citrus fruits, juices and products like lemons and oranges
• Spicy food, black pepper, onions, garlic and peppermint
• Other acidic foods like tomatoes
Treatments for heartburn
Medicines like antacids (over the counter) are an effective way to treat heartburn. If heartburn continues, you need to consult your doctor – who might prescribe a stronger medicine. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct severe cases of heartburn.
Lifestyle changes to decrease heartburn occurrence
Eat smaller meals more regularly
As we’ve seen above, too much stomach acid is one of the most significant causes of heartburn. By eating smaller meals, you won’t stimulate too much acid production. It is also important to eat more regularly. Skipping meals can cause stomach acid to build up. Jumping from an empty stomach to a bloated stomach quickly will cause your stomach to respond by producing lots of acid to cope with the workload. By eating smaller meals more regularly, you balance your stomach acid’s production levels. By doing this, you will also tend to eat less with every meal, decreasing your stomach’s work load.
Make sure that your diet contains enough raw, natural, plant-based foods. Diets that are too high in fatty, meaty or processed foods can lead to regular heartburn occurrence. Our bodies were made to digest a large portion of raw plants every day. Heartburn could be your body’s way of trying to balance out your bad eating habits.
Regular exercise strengthens your entire body, including internal organs. Regular exercise will strengthen the LES (or Lower esophageal sphincter: responsible for keeping stomach acid out of the oesophagus).
Don’t eat too close to bed time
Midnight snacks cause more than just heartburn. Going to bed with undigested food will decrease sleep quality. If you struggle with this, you can train yourself to eat further and further away from bed time. Eat an hour before you sleep for the first week before increasing the time to two hours in following week. If this it too drastic for you, start with half an hour. Once you are used to this, decrease the portion size of you last meal so that it won’t interfere with your sleep.
I really hope that you enjoyed my article. I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments.