So you’ve had a full, satisfying meal. Tantalised those taste buds and you’re content. Slowly, that uncomfortable feeling starts creeping up from your stomach and makes it way to your throat. It’s very uncomfortable, a burning like sensation. Where once your tongue experienced divine tastes, it now tastes all bitter and you feel like whatever went it, is finding its way up again. You start burping, feel nauseated, bloating and some pain.
Ever experienced these symptoms before? If you did, then you’re most likely experiencing heartburn. Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, it is an irritation caused by the stomach acid, to the oesophagus. The oesophageal sphincter that keeps this acid at bay usually tends to be loose in most cases, causing the acid to flow up to the oesophagus, causing irritation.
If you experience heartburn occasionally, it’s not life threatening, but if you experience it on a regular basis then it could lead to a more serious problem and treatment is usually advised. Diet certainly plays a major role in tackling heartburn. Here are some tips on the diet department to help with heartburn.
The Causes of Heartburn
Generally, heartburn is associated with lifestyle. Smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and bad eating habits are the contributing factor to heartburn. However, different individuals have different triggers that can cause heartburn. Here are some common causes:
– Consuming a large volume of food at one go generally causes heartburn.
– Eating fast and on-the-go also increases the risk of heartburn.
– Fatty foods take a longer time to digest in the stomach, hence causing heartburn.
– Since, it is a problem associated with acidity in the stomach, naturally it is advised to avoid acidic food. Examples of acidic food in our daily consumption include tomatoes, citrus fruits (oranges, grapes, lemon), vinegar, etc.
– Beverages also can trigger heartburn as some may boost the acid production in the stomach and some may relax the sphincter even more. Caffeinated, Alcoholic and Carbonated beverages, all contribute to heartburn.
– We all love chocolate, sadly, chocolate contains caffeine and fat.
– Spicy food also is a trigger. Onion and garlic are also triggers.
– Certain medication such as aspirin can also cause heartburn. Take note of what is your trigger and remember to avoid it the next time.
Preventing and Managing Heartburn
– Eat in smaller portions.
– Take your time when eating. Slow down and chew your food properly.
– Instead of frying, opt for alternative cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, roasting, baking or grilling your food. It can make a big difference.
– Mix up acidic foods with non-acidic foods such as vegetables pasta, and meat.
– Enjoy your spicy food, but in moderation.
– Instead of caffeinated drinks, take herbal teas, milk and of course the ever sworn by miracle drink, plain water.
– Allow about three hours between meals and bed time.
– Never lie down flat immediately after a meal. If you do need to, lie down on your left, as the stomach hangs naturally, allowing a better digestion.
– Avoid tight clothes as these can increase the pressure on your abdomen.
– Of course, you’ve heard this one before, stop smoking.
A healthier lifestyle can do wonders. Pregnant women though are quite prone to heartburn, it tends to go away after pregnancy. After trying all these tips and it does not offer much help, consider taking antacids as it helps to neutralise the acidity in the stomach. However, always seek advice from a medical practitioner or a pharmacist before starting on any medication.
If the heartburn does not subside and becomes more frequent, please seek medical attention as it could be an underlying symptom of something more serious.