The Surprising Truth About Heartburn, And What You Can Do To Stop It
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Learn about natural heartburn remedy and healthy steps you can take to reduce attacks.
Heartburn or acid reflux is the common term to describe when acidic fumes or gases from our half-digested food flows upwards back into the esophagus, where they are not supposed to be. Although named such, this condition usually has anything to do with the heart.
The medical term for heartburn is gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). But GERD is not a disease. Contrary to what many people believe, that GERD occurs due to over-production of stomach acid, it is likely that this is due to under-production of stomach acid.
When there is under-production of stomach acid, foods don’t get properly digested thus sit in the stomach and ferment, producing gas that causes pressure to build up. This pressure pushes open the sphincter valve and some stomach acid spill back out into the esophagus, causing burns as the esophagus tissues are not meant to handle this acid. This burning in the esophagus is what GERD sufferers experience, like burning sensations, pain, pressure and much discomfort on the chest.
When the stomach acid repeatedly comes into contact with this injured area (ulcer), pain is felt, causing a condition called esophagitis.
Heartburn/GERD sufferers who don’t understand this take antacids to neutralize the supposedly “over-acidity” and this adds on to the problem.
Antacids may be a temporary relief but really it is causing the under-production of stomach acid to be further suppressed and in the long run, indigestion will just cause a host of many other digestive disorders.
Chronic heartburn must not be taken lightly. It can result in obstruction, ulceration and formation of an abnormal lining which may turn cancerous.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Sufferers experience a crushing chest pain and an intense pressure beneath the breastbone. Sometimes the pain can be so great that it is mistaken for a heart attack. Due to the ulcers/wound formed from the stomach acid burns, sufferers may have difficulty swallowing food as if there is a lump. These “lumps” are really the scarred tissues that have thickened over time.
Other symptoms include excessive mucus in the throat, sore throat, stomach pain, bloating, belching, flatulence and even constipation. For some, there would also be constant coughing, choking in the sleep, ENT infections, and bad breath.
Causes of Heartburn
There are various possible causes of chronic heartburn, and they are mostly attributable to a lifestyle factor. Some of the risk factors are: Obesity, smoking, habitually overeating, poor food combining that cause indigestion, eating processed foods that are high in salt, fats and low in fiber, long-term medications, prolonged stress, drinking chlorinated and fluoridated water.
Other possible causes could be hiatal hernia — a condition that occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. H. Pylori bacterial infection is another risk factor. This bacterium may not cause any problem in a healthy person who keeps his/her body “alkaline” with plenty of fresh whole foods. In a body that is heavily toxic and acidic, this bacterium is more likely to act up and cause problems.
The most important thing you can do first of all is to stop taking antacids that continue to further reduce the stomach acid production that causes indigestion. Start drinking the right juices and go on a soft diet, to allow the ulcers to heal.
Acid reflux CAN be healed, despite what your doctor tells you. One of the first things I have my clients do, is a complete gastrointestinal cleanse. This alone will help reduce the symptoms by half. The next thing to do is to go on a course of high quality probiotics. I have found probiotics to be beneficial for my clients who complain about chronic heartburn.
Below are recommendations of some high quality probiotics:
Without taking antacids, try some of these natural methods to temporarily ease the heartburns. See what works best for you:
- Drinking an 8oz glass of water with 1 tsp of baking soda stirred into it
- Drinking an 8 oz glass of water with 1 tsp of spirulina powder stirred into it
- Drink a large glass of water at the first sign of pain
- Eat a banana or avocado
To increase stomach acid production, here are some things you could do:
- Add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of raw honey into a glass of water. Stir and drink 10 minutes before every meal, daily till you see an improvement.
- Suck on a licorice candy 5-10 minutes before a meal to encourage stomach acid production.
- Chew on some bitter foods about 5-10 minutes before a meal to stimulate bile production and improve stomach acid. Example of bitter foods: arugula, bittergourd, endive, chicory, radicchio, dandelion greens.
- Sip a small amount of bittergourd juice about 5-10 minutes before a meal to stimulate stomach acid production.
Prevention is the best cure for indigestion. Avoid processed foods, dietary fats, chocolate, mint, alcohol, caffeine, hot-spicy foods, and gas-causing foods (see Flatulence/Wind page).
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Notice and jot down what food aggravates or cause your heartburn and avoid them. Some food that aggravates other sufferers may not trouble you.
Quit smoking, a deadly habit for GERD sufferers.
Recommended Healing Foods to Relieve Heartburn/Acid Reflux
Important Note: These foods are alkaline-forming and gentle to the gastrointestinal tract. Suggested juice recipes below are helpful to relieve heartburn pains. With change of eating habits and lifestyle, remedy is possible. But if uncared for and left untreated, chronic heartburn may lead to cancer.
The above alkaline foods help cool and soothe the pain of heartburn. The alkalinity neutralize the acidic environment, cleanse, repair, heal and nourish.
Root vegetables such as carrot, lotusroot, jicama and potato are very mild and calming to the digestive system and wounds/ulcers in the tract. Fennel and kohlrabi have antiseptic properties that help improve the digestive system and the other green vegetables are alkaline and soothing as well.
Banana, papaya and avocado are all alkaline foods that have similar creamy texture that is soothing to the already sensitive surface of the intestinal tract. The healing properties heal on its way down and also neutralize the acidic environment to reduce pain.
Here is the complete list of alkaline food.
Some Suggested Combos (measurement for one portion):
- 2 carrots + 1 jicama + a 6-inch section of lotusroot
- 6 ribs of celery + 1 fennel + a bunch of spinach + ¼ lemon
- 2 carrots + 1 cucumber + 6-8 ribs of celery + 1-inch ginger root
- 3 carrots + 6 ribs of celery + ¼ head of cabbage
- 2 carrots + 1 jicama + 1 medium-sized potato
- 1 jicama + ½ medium-sized beetroot + 1 cup broccoli
- Pound 6 lemongrass bulbs (the white part closer to the root) + slice an inch of ginger root, boil them in about 500ml of water for 5 mins. Mix in some raw manuka honey to taste when a little cooler. Drink slightly warm.
- This peptic ulcer juice recipe is very helpful for healing the esophagus ulcer
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