Heartburn is a symptom of gastric reflux, which is a digestive disorder that is manifested by a burning sensation in the stomach and esophagus that is experienced after eating solid food or liquids, because the gastric acid flows from the stomach into the esophagus, which causes heartburn giving a bitter or sour taste in the throat or mouth, which can last from minutes to hours, often accentuated after eating.
What is acid reflux?
Reflux word means "to return again". In a healthy body, after eating, whether solid or liquid food, digestion is a process where a band of muscles at the end of the esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter) is closed so that the food can’t get into the esophagus (which is a tube located just behind the breastbone), and can be digested normally. However, when this muscle or "gate" cannot close properly, the partially digested contents can back up the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and acid reflux as this usually contains gastric acid, which can irritate esophagus and create a burning sensation or irritation.
When the acidity is constant and frequent, then you could be suffering from what is known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Causes of gastric reflux:
- Hiatal hernia, which occurs when the top of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest cavity, weakening the lower esophageal sphincter to facilitate the reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
- The use of anti-cholinergic medications such as aspirin, beta blockers for high blood pressure or heart disease, high blood pressure drugs, some bronchodilators for asthma, dopamine for Parkinson's disease, etc.
- Poor eating habits and abuse in the use of irritants.
- Pregnancy, due to pressure from the baby on the stomach.
- Overweight, as excessive pressure causes food to get back into the esophagus.
- The ideas or experiences that are not well "digested" or accepted, or that you cannot assimilate, emotional states of anger, disgust and rejection, which encourages an atmosphere tense in the stomach, and unbalanced acidity that promotes reflux stomach.
Gastric reflux symptoms
It is necessary that if you feel any of the following symptoms often, you should pay attention and address this problem, because if not and you wait, over time the ongoing reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause serious problems. Common symptoms are:
- Burning stomach and esophagus.
- Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is one of the most common symptoms of GERD.
- Feeling that the food comes again.
- Pain due to heartburn, which usually originates in the chest and may radiate to the neck or throat.
- Symptoms in severe cases: vomiting blood or black, brown or very dark stools, burning pain is accompanied by a constricting or squeezing sensation.
Treatment to prevent heartburn and acid reflux
The eating habits are essential to help address this problem. If you have gastric reflux, it’s indispensable to remove from your diet:
- Soft and carbonated drinks
- Chocolate and Coffee
- Tomatoes and sauces
- Alcohol and vinegar
- Spicy or fatty foods of animal origin (fried sausages, etc.)
- Mustard, chili, irritants, pepper, etc.
- Cow's milk, cheese and dairy products
Please include in your diet:
Salads and fresh vegetable juices which are rich in vitamins and minerals that help restore digestive functions. Drink aloe or carrot juice in the meals and drink vegetable milk from oats, rice, almond, etc.., which are digestible and light for the stomach, besides of being very nutritious, they don’t cause intolerances. Pro-biotics (such as kefir or Bulgarian) are excellent in the mornings, but do not combine with other proteins, take them alone with a little honey and some whole grains.
There are certain habits that can help you to avoid reflux:
- Do not perform heavy physical activity after eating; try a good hike, which stimulate proper digestion.
- Do not lie down after eating, it's best to walk.
- Do not carry heavy things or bend over after eating.
- Do not eat in a hurry, and chew food well and slowly.
- Avoid arguing or talking much while eating; if you are angry, do not eat immediately, and wait until the anger passes.
- Do not accompany your meal with sugar or fruit drinks; always choose a cooked meal and a salad or vegetable juice to help a good digestion.
- You can drink a cup of warm water, aloe juice or fresh vegetables to accompany your meal, do not drink cold water when you eat, the water should be drunk half an hour before or one hour after eating.
- Avoid smoking, as the chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Do not have diner too late, you should eat 2 hours before sleep and eat a fresh apple to help restore digestive functions of your stomach.
- Do not wear belts or clothes that tighten your stomach, your clothes should be comfortable and relaxed.
- If you are overweight, you must look for a proper diet to lose weight, since overweight promotes gastric acidity due to excessive internal pressure. In many cases the symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux completely disappear after a person has lost 7 to 8 kilos.
Some recommendations in your habits:
- Practice relaxing activities for your emotions and your body like yoga or meditation.
- Try reading books that help you understand how you feel and flow more optimally with your emotions. .
Some herbal remedies for heartburn are: infusion of comfrey root and marshmallow to relieve irritation and inflammation of the digestive organs. Drink only one cup a day and do not use this remedy more than three weeks in a row.
Decoctions, gentian or goldenseal are also recommended. Remember not to abuse their consumption and rest of the remedies every two or three weeks.