19 Jun Heartburn & Your Diet
Heartburn is the most common type of indigestion. It feels like a burning sensation behind the breastbone or the feeling that acid is bubbling up from the stomach into the throat. It happens when the muscular ring that keeps the top of the stomach closed relaxes momentarily allowing the stomach acid to splash back into your gullet, sometimes even the mouth, giving you that burning, acidic taste.
The stomach is designed to resist the acidity of stomach acid – but the gullet is not, hence the pain and the damage that is caused when this is an ongoing problem.
How diet can help heartburn:
– Don’t overeat – heavy meals can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
– Chew your food properly. Take time to savour your food and chew properly. If you gobble down your food without adequate chewing, large molecules of food stay longer in the stomach to be broken down. The stomach can become overfull leading to heartburn.
-Eat little and often. This will avoid stomach overload which can force the stomach valve to open and cause heartburn
-Know – and avoid – your trigger foods. Common food triggers of heartburn include fatty foods which are known to open the stomach valve, as are coffee, fizzy drinks, alcohol, onions, garlic, tomato-based foods, citrus or very spicy foods. Different people have different trigger foods – get to know yours and avoid!
-Don’t eat too late. If you lie down soon after eating, it’s a lot easier for stomach acid to splash back into the gullet especially if you stomach valve is weak. Keep bedtime snacks to a minimum.
-Mind your posture. Keep your spine straight when you eat (avoid slouching) to avoid squashing the digestive organs and interfering with the natural flow of foods through the digestive tract.
If heartburn is a chronic issue for you, have it checked out with your GP, as ongoing, untreated heartburn can lead to ulcers and more serious illnesses. You may need to be treated for h. Pylori infection or other yeast or bacterial overgrowth. Finding the underlying cause is important, as long term use of acid blocking medication can have side effects and interfere with nutrient absorption (including calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12) which has a serious impact on your overall health.
Source: Adapted from ‘You Are what You Eat’ meal planner
Sharon O’Dwyer, Nutritional Therapist in Carrigaline, offers support to clients who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle. She offers personalised plans that can help resolve and eliminate symptoms relating to digestive dysfunction including irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, excessive gas, as well as conditions relating to hormonal imbalance, low energy, low immunity, poor bone health, high blood pressure, food sensitivities, stress and other conditions.