Heartburn is a problem up to 50% of Americans suffer from at any given time. Many people think they need to take acid blockers because they have too much acid in their stomach. However, the opposite is usually true. Heartburn is not a disease but a symptom. There are 4 main causes of heartburn:
- Poor diet
- Food sensitivities
- Hiatal Hernia
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
Medications normally prescribed for chronic heartburn may temporarily relieve the symptoms. However, they never solve the root problem, thus symptoms continue.
The Role Of Stomach Acid
When we eat, our stomachs release hydrochloric acid (HCL) and our gallbladders release bile into the stomach. Hydrochloric acids main role is to sterilize what comes into the stomach and kill any pathogens that may have entered the body. This prevents them from entering our GI tract and us getting sick. It also stimulates enzyme production to start breaking down the food consumed.
Bile is made in the liver and poured into our stomachs after we eat through the gallbladder. Bile’s role is essential for the utilization of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. It breaks down the fats we consume and makes them usable for making hormones. If we do not have enough bile in our stomachs it prevents fats from becoming lipids which can cause a hormone imbalance, plus cause heartburn. The other role of bile is detoxification. Bile is one way the liver rids our bodies of “used up” hormones, toxins, foreign chemicals, and heavy metals.
Adjusting Your Diet
The Standard American Diet is incredibly deficient in fat, cholesterol, alkaline and probiotic rich foods. One of the best ways to control heartburn is to adjust your diet. Slowly increase your intake of healthy fats, reduce your consumption of grains to one meal (and just one serving) per day, and eat slowly.
Scarfing down your food doesn’t allow any digestion to happen in your mouth, and can cause of a rush of HCL and bile to enter the stomach. This can cause acid to creep up while you’re eating. Grains when over consumed, even if there is sufficient acid in the stomach, are not always completely broken down before entering the GI tract. When low stomach is present, carbohydrates can’t be broken down. This often causes bloating and abdominal pressure. This pressure can lead to heartburn. (source)
Food sensitivities often irritate the digestive tract. It can start anywhere from the mouth to the intestines. Heartburn can often be a symptom of a food sensitivity and removing the foods will bring relief.
Adding in more healthy fats support our digestive system as well. Add them in slowly to your diet. I recommend one tablespoon per week up to six or more tablespoons of fat depending on how high fat-low carb you want your diet to be. Healthy fats to include more of are: avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, egg yolks, butter, fat from pasture raised animals, and wild caught fish.
6 Home Remedies To Relieve Heartburn
- Apple Cider Vinegar has a high PH which mimics the acid level in our stomachs. Consume 1 tbsp of a raw ACV with a glass of water 30 minutes before meals. If you can’t stand the taste of the vinegar, use 1 cup of warm warm water with 1 tbsp ACV, 1 tbsp of raw honey, juice from one lemon, and a dash of cinnamon.
- Aloe Vera has soothing properties for burns, not just externally but internally as well. The best way to use aloe is to buy aloe vera juice designed to be taken internally. Drink just 2-3 ounces slowly after heartburn has occurred. It does have a laxative property and more does not mean better. You’ve been warned. (I like Lily of the Desert products.)
- Ginger is long known for soothing stomach issues. (Think ginger ale being recommended when you have a stomach virus.) Consuming a tsp of fresh ginger per day can prevent heartburn and easy stomach distress. You can add it to hot tea, or add it to your fresh juices and smoothies.
- Slippery Elm coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It increases mucus secretion we want and need in our digestive tract. I recommend Now Foods Slippery Elm.
- L-Glutamine has been shown to protect against mucosal breakdown in the gut. The average recommendation is to take 2.5-5 grams once daily in powder form. I personally use Nutricost L-Glutamine Powder. For the correct dose for you, talk with a holistic practitioner.
- Fermented Foods contain probiotics which balance the gut bacteria in our gut. This reduces bloating and increases nutrient absorption. Eat a spoonful of fermented vegetables (like homemade sauerkraut) one meal daily. If you cannot stand fermented foods, take a 30-50 billion probiotic daily.
Have you tried these remedies? Let me know how they worked by leaving a comment below.
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