Are you suffering from heartburn?
Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): acid reflux is the regurgitation of partially digested liquids or foods that have mixed with stomach acid. This acidic mix makes its way into your oesophagus and throat where it causes irritation. Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen can push the contents of your stomach up into the oesophagus, including obesity, and pregnancy. Occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about, but frequent heartburn can lead to chronic digestive disorders. How can you find relief? Here are some home remedies for heartburn to try.
One of the smartest home remedies for heartburn is gum, says naturopathic doctor, Olivia Rose. “Chewing gum may help because it stimulates the production of saliva which can help neutralise your stomach acid,” she says. It also aids in the movement of your digestive tract, reducing the risk of stomach contents coming back up, Rose adds. Bear in mind that sugar and sugar-alcohol ingredients in gum can irritate some stomachs.
Drink a glass of water
One of the simplest fixes for heartburn may be the best. Drinking water helps keep food moving in your GI tract; hydration is also key for a well-functioning digestive system, says Rose.
Change your body position
If you’ve had a late-night meal, you might come home and head right to bed. In the future, move your meal time earlier, if possible. Ideally, you want a few hours between finishing and laying down. “If you still need to lie down, lie down on your left side and/or elevate your bed with a wedge by about ten to 15 centimetres,” says Rose.
Practice deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing is one of the heartburn home remedies that anyone can do. Deep breathing exercises can reduce the amount of air swallowed and strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower oesophageal sphincter, relieving some acid reflux symptoms. And the breathing exercises are unbelievably simple: just breathe in deeply, breathe out slowly. A study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2018 showed that diaphragmatic breathing (essentially ‘deep breathing’ or ‘belly breathing’) reduced belching and other reflux symptoms.
Avoid foods that can cause heartburn
Common food culprits of heartburn include coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, fried foods, and acidic foods (like tomatoes), according to the NIDDK.
Eat a Mediterranean diet and avoid fatty meals
Meals based in the Mediterranean diet-style of eating helped reduce symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux (acid reflux that primarily irritates the throat) just as well as standard PPI medication therapy, according to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, making it one of the best home remedies for heartburn. The diet in the study was 90 per cent plant-based and participants also drank alkaline water. Greasy, fatty foods, however, make acid reflux and heartburn more likely.
The Mediterranean diet is also good for your heart. Read on for more heart health tips.
Lose weight and eat smaller meals
Obesity puts pressure on the abdomen, resulting in stomach contents being forced up the oesophagus. Large, heavy meals also increase pressure on the abdomen and lead to acid reflux. Eating smaller meals and dropping a few pounds is one of the home remedies for heartburn that work, reports the NIDDK.
Another reason to quit smoking: Tobacco weakens your lower oesophageal sphincter, the set of muscles responsible for keeping stomach contents out of your oesophagus. When this band of muscles becomes too weak, regurgitated food and stomach acid can easily make their way into your oesophagus.
Want to quit smoking for good? Here are some mind-blowing ways your body heals after you quit.
Sip liquid calcium
Looking for a go-to treatment for acute heartburn pain? Take a tablespoon of liquid calcium/magnesium supplement. “Being more alkaline, this can neutralise acid, providing almost instant relief in most cases,” says Rose. Another option is plain yoghurt.
Find some licorice
If you’re worried an upcoming dinner will leave you feeling the burn, try DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), says Rose. “This is an extract of licorice root and my favourite herb to help acid reflux. It may also help protect the stomach lining from acid formation,” she says. DGL is typically an alternative to other antacids. It can also be used to help wean you off PPI medication. Take a dose 10 to 20 minutes before eating.
Calm the burn with tea
Warm tea can do more than just soothe the soul. Slippery elm and marshmallow tea can come in handy for heartburn. “These teas contain soothing properties that can coat the stomach and oesophagus and reduce irritation of the mucosal tissue,” says Rose. You can find these two herbs in teas labelled “Throat Coat.” Chamomile tea is another throat-happy option.
Avoid: peppermint or vinegar
Some people may be tempted to drink peppermint tea, and while it has been used to aid digestion, it can aggravate heartburn, says Rose. (Peppermint oil may help as long as it is in enteric-coated capsules.) Similarly, people may use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a gastric soother, but, as Harvard Medical School points out, there’s a lack of evidence it can treat reflux. It can be helpful if symptoms stem from a lack of stomach acid and/or poor digestion, which can also result in reflux and similar symptoms.
Toss in ginger
Many herbs are known to ease your digestion. While technically a rhizome, ginger, is one delicious, centuries-old option for soothing an easily triggered GI tract. At least most of the time: in some people, it can backfire and cause indigestion. No matter what you’re cooking up, chances are there’s a herb that complements it.
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Source: RD Canada