Heartburn, sometimes known also as acid reflux, is something that affects us all and that can be highly unpleasant and even take the joy out of what was otherwise a good meal. Furthermore this can be unhealthy for our esophagus as our acidic reflux can burn the inside lining.
Heartburn is not actually ‘heart burn’ at all, but is instead caused by the esophagus burning. This is the food tube that runs down our throat to our stomach, and as this means that it passes through our chest, it can sometimes feel like it’s out heart that is burning. In other cases it may feel as though you have a lump or cramp in your chest or even your back (which is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack) or it can feel like your throat is burning if the reflux travels up that far. Sometimes it can reach your mouth which can of course be unpleasant and not great for your breath.
When this sensation is caused, this is because the contents of the stomach, including the stomach acid, has passed up through the esophageal sphincter which is a valve designed to allow food only to pass through one way. A little bit of reflux is normal and harmless, but if this continues this can begin to do damage to our esophagus and can be quite unpleasant and off putting. In this scenario it is possible to use prescribed medication or off the shelf products like Gaviscon to combat the problem, or you can try and address it yourself using home remedies. Below are some things to try:
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best – by just drinking water it is possible to wash down some of the acid that is causing the burn and send it back to your stomach where it belongs. At the same time this can help to dilute the acid so that it burns less.
Surprisingly sometimes eating more acidic foods can help to prevent heart burn. This is because the esophageal sphincter can detect acid in the stomach and when it does this forces it to grip more tightly shut. If you don’t have enough acid in the stomach then, it might think the ‘coast is clear’ and so open up. In this situation you should consume a high acid food – one example of a high acid food is vinegar – so put some on your chips and this might help to prevent the heart burn.
Several sources state that baking soda is a good cure for heart burn taken either before or after a meal.
Potato drinks are also a commonly mentioned remedy, presumably as they can absorb the acid.
Avoid Certain Foods
If you struggle with heart burn then certain foods are not your friends and will make you more likely to get the problem. Those particular guilty parties are: citrus fruits, fatty foods, tomatoes, pork chops, deep fried meat, potatoes (despite the aforementioned potato drink being a cure for some – handle with care), hot milk, coffee and soda drinks.
Eat More Slowly
A common cause of heartburn is simply eating too quickly. This causes you to swallow more air as you eat and that in turn causes the sphincter to open to release the trapped gas when there is no food coming down – presenting an opportunity for acid to get up. Make sure to carefully chew all your food and to keep your mouth closed to avoid taking in gulps of air.
Sit More Upright
Sometimes cases of heartburn could be prevented simply by maintaining proper posture during and after eating which will encourage food to travel the right way down the passage thanks to gravity. At the same time it’s important to try and stay relatively still – movement can cause the esophageal sphincter to open allowing acid back inside the esophagus. So after the meal stay at the table and stay upright and don’t get up to engage in any activities just yet.