What Causes Heartburn?
You just finished a delicious meal or you just got into bed to sleep and that familiar gnawing starts in your lower stomach. Or, you feel a sharp pain near your upper chest. You know what it is because, as someone who gets frequent heartburn, you’ve grown accustomed to the feeling. So, what causes heartburn and what home remedies are available to relieve the pain?
There can be many things that trigger heartburn. If you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), symptoms are caused by a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid and food to wash back (acid reflux) into the esophagus, causing pain. However, not everyone that experiences heartburn has GERD.
For some, heartburn is caused by an imbalance of acid in the stomach. If it becomes too acidic, it can painfully splash back into the esophagus. So, before grabbing the antacids, try a few home remedies first. Everyone is different and so results may vary, but below are a few home remedies that may reduce your heartburn.
Home Remedies to Fight Heartburn
If you experience symptoms of heartburn, fight back by balancing the acid levels in your stomach. Every food we eat has a pH level associated with it. The pH (power of hydrogen) level of food ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. Food above 7 is alkaline (less acidic) and food below 7 is more acidic. If you eat a meal with several foods that are acidic, the results can be combated by consuming small amounts of food with a higher pH (less acidic).
Try some of the items below for relief:
1. Baking Soda
Baking Soda has a pH level of 9, making it a base substance that can help neutralize stomach acid. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water and drink.
2. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum can reduce the amount of acid in the esophagus. The increasing amount of saliva you produce will result in washing down your throat and esophagus clearing acid reflux.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar actually has a lower pH level at 3.1. Since it’s more acidic, it might be counter-intuitive to use vinegar to fight heartburn. But, in some cases, heartburn can be caused because the acid in the stomach is too low to digest food quickly enough. This means food is left in the stomach longer and can wash back (reflux) into the esophagus. Using vinegar can increase the stomach acids needed to speed the digestive process up. Just mix one tablespoon vinegar with one glass of water.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera can provide relief to the esophagus and also improve blood flow aiding the digestive process. As mentioned above, digesting foods quicker gives it less opportunity to irritate the stomach and esophagus. Drink 2-3 ounces of aloe vera juice diluted in a glass of water. But, be careful, drinking too much can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Preventing Heartburn with Home Remedies
One of the best ways to fight heartburn is to prevent it! You’ve heard the saying, “The best offense is a good defense.” So, what measures can you take to prevent heartburn?
1. Cook with Heartburn-Friendly Ingredients
In one of our previous blogs, we discussed how you can take your existing recipes and make them GERD-friendly and heartburn-friendly. Avoiding heartburn triggers is a great way to ensure a no-pain evening after your meal. At gerFoodie, all of the recipes we post are heartburn-friendly. Feel free to browse our recipes and save your favorites.
2. Eat Smaller Portions
Overeating can stretch the stomach and put pressure on the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The LES is a small ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach that serves as the gate-keeper between the two. This gate prevents food and stomach acid from washing back into the esophagus. When you overeat, it makes it more difficult for the LES to act as that gatekeeper.
3. Control Stress
Stress can cause an overproduction of acid in your stomach causing heartburn. There are many things you can do to lessen stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America provides a comprehensive guide to reducing stress. Here are a few:
- Take a time out
- Eat a well-balanced meal
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise Daily
- Take deep breaths
- Talk to someone
4. Lose Weight
According to WebMD, gaining weight can increase the odds that you’ll get heartburn. Conversely, losing weight can decrease those odds. And, of course, there are many other health benefits to losing weight, such as:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of heart attack
- Reduce risk of dementia
- Better sleep
- Reduce risk of cancer
Heartburn Remedies and Prevention
Remember, there are a few heartburn home remedies that can help relive the pain associate with heartburn; like, baking soda, chewing gum, vinegar, and aloe vera. But, preventing heartburn symptoms before they start is the best way to fight heartburn. Eating properly is important and that’s why, here at gerFoode, we are dedicated to proving GERD-friendly and heartburn-friendly recipes.
Search your favorite recipe, add them to your own account, and create your own recipes here at gerFoodie.