Heartburn is a debilitating and painful condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. However, some people experience heartburn so often that it interferes with their everyday life, stops them eating foods they enjoy and disrupts their natural sleeping pattern. This article will look at ways to reduce the instances of heartburn, consider why the heavy use of synthetic antacids is not a good idea and explore some effective natural remedies for this common condition.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a form of indigestion and an unpleasant burning sensation in the upper chest. This condition is caused by gastric reflux, that is, when stomach acids move back up into the oesophagus. Often this can be due to a faulty valve, which has failed to block the acid from moving up from the stomach.
Heartburn can be caused by a number of things, including a weak digestive system, a faulty valve in the oesophagus, stress, bad diet and the overuse of over-the-counter medications such as common pain killers. Heartburn is often made worse by eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol, eating fatty foods, sugar, cigarettes, refined foods and coffee. Many people also find that eating too late in the day just before going to bed can also bring on heartburn, as when the body is lying in a prone position it makes it more likely that you will experience acid reflux.
Why you should limit antacids
Although antacids can work at first, helping the body to regulate the acid in the stomach and preventing heartburn symptoms, the heavy use of antacids can actually aggravate the condition and make it worse in the long run. There are a number of synthetic antacids available in chemists that work in the short term to relieve symptoms and bicarbonate of soda is also a useful temporary solution for the occasional attack of heartburn.
However solutions such as drugs and bicarbonate of soda do not cure the heartburn altogether. In fact, using these antacids can often even alter the stomach acids so that heartburn becomes worse and you become reliant on antacids, dangerously changing the acid levels in the stomach.
Foods that reduce heartburn
There are thankfully a number of natural ways to reduce heartburn and altering your diet is a good place to start. Alkalising foods and drinks can help to promote a more alkaline environment in the stomach, lessening the chances of acid reflux. Many vegetables are alkaline but surprisingly some citrus fruits can also help to bring the stomach acid level down.
Pepper, grapes and celery are excellent for heartburn as they are highly alkaline. It is always best to buy organic fruit and vegetables where possible, especially for grapes as these have often been doused in chemicals and pesticides. Celery is a food for improving gut health and it can be eaten in a soup or raw as part of a salad.
Potatoes and cabbage are both naturally alkalising. Potatoes are excellent for reducing any burning sensation and cabbage is ideal for reducing the risk of ulcers in the stomach. These two vegetables go well together and can be mashed up to form a soothing paste.
The two citrus fruits that are acid in nature yet have an alkalising effect on the body when eaten are lemon and pineapple. Lemon neutralises acid in the stomach and is a wonderful aid to heartburn sufferers. Simply add a little lemon juice to water and sip before and after a meal, to help ward off excess stomach acids. Pineapple should be consumed before or after protein-rich meals, such as meat and fish. The enzymes in this fruit have an alkalising effect on the stomach once consumed.
Recipes for fast-acting heartburn relief include eating carrot, cabbage and potato for three days running. You can cook these vegetables however you want, but limit all other foods and stick to these three miracle veggies to effectively alkalise your stomach.
Making a potato and olive oil juice is another tried and tested method for eliminating heartburn symptoms when sipped over a minimum of 9 days. Mix a quarter of a potato and 2 spoons of olive oil together to create a soothing concoction which is both alkalising and anti-inflammatory.
Clay water is another option which can alkalise the body. Mix white clay from a heath food or herb store with water and leave for 10 minutes to infuse before drinking the concoction.