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Heartburn or acidity can strike you anytime of the day, making you feel uncomfortable and bloated. It can be a result of a large meal you indulged in a few hours back or more than three hours of gap between meals. Whatever may be the case, it causes enough distress for you to reach for over the counter antacids.
While antacids may give you temporary relief, it is so often not the answer to heartburn, as regular intake of antacids can cause inimitable damage to your body. What is Factually and what causes it? We will try and answer that for you in this article.
- Causes of Heartburn
- How to Get Rid of Heartburn – Foods to the Rescue!
- Home Remedies to Get Rid of Heartburn
- Acid Reflux Remedies
- Foods to Avoid to protect yourself from the Harmful Effects of Acid Reflux
- Lifestyle Changes to Combat Heartburn
Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn is typically caused by acid reflux, which generally occurs when the group muscle that lets in food right into your stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter also known as LES, relaxes when it should not be the case.
The resulting condition leads to acid from your stomach retracting into the esophagus, which results in that burning feeling, just behind your chest. This is also known as acid reflux, because of the excess amount of acid in your esophagus.
It is the acid reflux which irritates your esophagus and causes your heartburn. You may suffer from heartburn regularly or occasionally; either way, if you make lifestyle changes you can get great relief.
While they say you should never regret anything in life, a particularly indulgent meal may force you to feel that way, especially when you do not chew well enough and eat more than required. The other reasons why you may experience heartburn are the following,
- Consuming too much of caffeine, chocolates or alcohol, which are regarded as common triggers.
- Being overweight or obese
- Indulging in spicy foods much too often
- Lying down immediately after a heavy meal
- Certain medications can trigger heartburn such as aspirin or ibuprofen
How to Get Rid of Heartburn – Foods to the Rescue!
We know that too much of eating any kind of food can cause indigestion, but the strangest thing is that there are certain foods which help you get rid of heartburn with ease. Yes, natural antacids as they are called, are effective without affecting your health adversely.
- Bananas- Bananas are potassium rich and the right food to have when you are experiencing heartburn. Nothing calms an ailing digestive system more swiftly than a banana. It is your perfect go-to food for those mid-morning snacks. In my case, it works more when I have a frozen banana. It may be a placebo effect, but as soon as I have a frozen banana my tummy feels less on fire. Try it, it really works!
- Coconut water- A wonder drink, straight from nature. It is pretty low on calories and easy on the stomach as well. That is why when you are feeling the heat because of the sultry weather and also because of heartburn.
In fact, this refreshing drink contains various bioactive enzymes that can help in digestion and also help boost fat metabolism. This natural elixir is rich in potassium, which helps balance out the sodium, makes your body alkaline and stalls further acid production.
- Buttermilk- A summer favorite, buttermilk refreshes you and puts a stop to the burning sensation in your chest, largely because of its high lactic acid content. Have it immediately after your heavy meals. Spice it up with cumin powder and black pepper powder and some rock salt. A sprinkle of sugar or molasses and consume it chilled! You will be surprised at how easily you get relief from heartburn symptoms.
- Fennel seeds- Indians have a habit of munching on fennel seeds right after a hearty meal. So, is it good or bad? It is extremely good as fennel seeds keep the digestive tract healthy and reduce the bloated feeling to a large extent.
- Jaggery- Jaggery is one of the foods easily available in any Indian house; it is not only a healthier substitute for refined sugar but its rich magnesium content cools down the acid reflux symptoms as well. Suck on a delectable piece of jaggery after a meal and you will get great relief from the symptoms of heartburn.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Heartburn
Tackle the underlying digestive issues by making changes to your diet, controlling portions and avoiding triggers, like stress. Besides all the above-mentioned foods used as natural medications, you can try the following medications to control your acid reflux symptoms.
1. Baking soda
A spoonful of baking soda a day can keep the heartburn away. Don’t believe us? You are skeptical about the fact that something as readily available as baking soda can solve your heat burn issues with the flick of your fingers, aren’t you? Well, it works because it has a high alkaline pH balance; in fact, it is as high as 7, therefore it works hard to provide relief to your heartburn symptoms.
So, if you ask how to get rid of heartburn, well, baking soda can prove to be a comprehensive solution to your problem. Here is how you should make your very own baking soda solution.
- 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- One glass of fresh water
Mix a ½ teaspoon or 1 single teaspoon (according to your preference) of baking soda into a glass of water. Stir it up, and sip on it. You can repeat the entire procedure again, but then too much of a good thing is not too good so, don’t exceed the ½ a teaspoon dose in a day. Also, remember that you cannot have this remedy more than a week as it has some side-effects such as nausea and swelling.
2. Ginger root Remedy
Ginger root is an answer to almost every ailment, but it is particularly useful to solve digestive problems. It can provide relief to problems right from nausea to acid reflux. You can sip on a hot cuppa of stomach-soothing tea right 20 minutes before a meal. Your stomach before a meal can help calm down your tummy and act as an acid buffer.
- 3 quarter sized slices of gingerroot
- 2 cups of water
First, mince up 3 quarter sized pieces of ginger root and let it simmer it in water for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink it up while still warm. You can add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt or rock salt to the mixture before sipping it slowly to calm down your stomach naturally.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been a tried and tested remedy and has long been used to get rid of heartburn. Though the miracles of ACV have not been backed by science, most people will swear by its efficacy. Your kitchen cupboard must contain either vinegar- white or apple cider vinegar- as it can treat your heartburn with far more efficacy than your average antacid.
But of course, you need to dilute it with water. It may take some time to get used to. But once you get used to it, you will be amazed at the results it provides.
- 1-2 tsp. Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 glass Water
Add the required amount of vinegar to your glass of water and mix the liquid well. Sip on this liquid at least 2-3 times a day. The best time to have it is before your bedtime, especially when you are suffering from heartburn.
4. Carom Seeds
Ayurveda has an answer to heartburn in the form of Carom seeds or ajwain as they are better known as, in India. It has been used for ages to treat heartburn and acid reflux much before packaged bottles of medicine were discovered. They are natural antacids, especially because of the thymol component present in the seeds. It also calms down the mucous membrane of your stomach, and is especially useful when your heart seems to be on fire.
There are several ways to use carom seeds to protect you from heartburn. This is an age-old recipe to have carom seeds. Take 1 tsp. of carom seeds and add it to a pinch of black salt and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on it. Consume it. If the taste seems to be too overwhelming, gulp down some water, it is a great way to get relief from heartburn.
Another way of consuming carrom seeds is to make a tea, take 1-2 tsp. of carom seeds and boil the liquid for about 5-10 minutes. Strain it and consume it straight up.
Acid Reflux Remedies
Is your heartburn quite harmless or is there more to it? Occasional symptoms of heartburn are nothing to get worried about, but frequent such episodes may give nod to more serious health issues, like GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
It is very important to know about what are the chief causes of acid reflux, so you can stop it from going the chronic way. Get your diet right first; you need to find out the triggers that are setting off your acid reflux symptoms. Besides, that there are other lifestyle changes that can give you relief from heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.
- Predominantly follow a plant-based diet- Add more leafy greens such as broccoli, asparagus beans and so on.
- Make fruits an integral part of your diet- Add bananas, peaches, plums, apricots, apples and so on.
- Select the right cereals- Choose grains which are alkaline, like oats, rice, millets (Jowar, Bajra, Ragi)
- Consume more lean meat- Leave out more red meat and consume chicken, fish and so on.
- Add more probiotics to your diet- Probiotics aid in digestion, so yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and so on must be part of your daily diet.
- Have lemon water- Lemon water has alkalizing properties, and beginning the day with lemon water can help soothe your stomach lining.
Foods to Avoid to protect yourself from the Harmful Effects of Acid Reflux
These are foods that you must add to your diet to combat heartburn. However, it is not enough to add these foods, there are some foods which can trigger off your acid reflux in a bad way. Make sure you avoid these kinds of foods. You need to find out some of the triggers yourself, as what can cause acid reflux in one person may not cause it in others. However, these are some of the common foods that cause acid reflux or heartburn.
- Avoid too much of caffeine- Too much coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks are a strict no-no.
- Avoid chocolates- We know it is always very difficult to avoid chocolates, but avoid it you must if you suffer from acid reflux, as it contains methylxanthine which sets off acid reflux.
- Avoid alcohol- Alcohol is one thing you must avoid like the plague if you want to avoid the symptoms of heartburn.
- Avoid too much of citrus fruits and juices- Though most fruits can be considered healthy, there are some, which can trigger the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Avoid fried foods- Some foods are so often fried with the wrong kind of hydrogenated vegetable oils which can cause acid reflux too. So, avoid them at any cost.
Lifestyle Changes to Combat Heartburn
Besides eating the right kind of foods and also avoiding certain kind of foods, there are some tips you should incorporate to avoid heartburn. Like with every other disease, a healthy lifestyle is your best bet to combat acid reflux.
- Drink an ample amount of water- If you want to find out what are the causes of acid reflux, the number one answer is not drinking enough water. Drinking lots of water can be a great way to regulate the stomach acid and avoid acid reflux.
- Eat frequently and eat smaller meals- Eat frequently, but smaller meals so that you do not affect your esophageal sphincter.
- Chew more- It is important to chew more to aid digestion.
- Eat at the right time- Do not lie down as soon as you finish a heavy meal, in fact, you should finish dinner a good 3-4 hours before you go off to sleep. This will help the digestion process and before you go to bed; your food will already have been digested.
- Do not eat processed food- Eating too much of outside food and processed food can trigger acid reflux. Eat whole, unprocessed, natural foods to avoid heartburn or acid reflux.
What causes of acid reflux? Now you know what can trigger off a sudden burning feeling in your stomach or in your chest. Try and incorporate the above points into your daily lifestyle to get relief from heartburn, but if the symptoms still persist, do consult a doctor to find out about any underlying chronic health issues.