Although heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, it can feel strangely similar since the pain is in that area. This condition is generally characterized by a burning sensation in the chest. This sensation arises mostly due to stomach acid making its way toward the esophagus, which connects the stomach and throat. Occasional heartburns are quite common, but if left untreated, it can damage the esophagus and even lead to cancer.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 60 million people in the country suffer from heartburn at least once a month, with 15 million reporting the problem on a daily basis.
Causes, symptoms, and treatment
There are tons of triggers for heartburn. The most common one, however, is the reverse movement of content from the stomach to the esophagus. It happens due to the malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter – the juncture where the esophagus connects to the stomach.
In normal conditions, the sphincter closes as soon as the food reaches the stomach. This prevents the reverse passage of any material into the esophagus. Sometimes though, the sphincter doesn’t work that well, allowing certain elements to move back. Stomach acids can, in this way, cause heartburns. Other known causes include
- lying down immediately after eating,
- stress and anxiety, and
The most commonly reported symptoms of heartburn are
- chronic cough,
- a burning sensation in the upper abdomen,
- chest pain after eating,
- acidic taste in the mouth,
- bloating, and
- a lump in the throat.
Most cases related to heartburn can be cured by dietary changes. However, in the rarest of scenarios, the doctor may prescribe medications like antacids and proton pump inhibitors to neutralize or block stomach acid production. These, in conjunction with the right diet, can uproot heartburn and its related issues.
Foods that help fight heartburn
Before getting into foods that can curb heartburn symptoms, it is just as important to understand specific triggers from a dietary perspective. High-fat foods allow more acid to back up into the esophagus, with citrus fruits, chocolates, and spicy foods leading contributors to heartburn. While the nature of the condition and its many aspects depend from person to person, the foods mentioned herein are potent in helping ease heartburn symptoms.
Besides being a good source of multiple vitamins, iron, and manganese, rice lowers the chances of triggering heartburn by absorbing excess acid in the stomach. There are over 53 grams of carbohydrates in a single serving of white rice, most of which comprise starch and very low amount of sugar. Additionally, consuming brown rice reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Alkaline in nature, bananas are the best sources of vitamin B6. They have high potassium content and are terrific against stomach acid, thus preventing heartburn. A medium-sized banana fulfills 10%-12% of daily fiber requirements, which helps aid digestion and solve gastrointestinal issues like constipation and heartburn. Newly ripe bananas are great breakfast options.
- Green vegetables
As expected, green vegetables prove more than effective against heartburn symptoms. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, leafy veggies, and cauliflower are low on acidic content, fat, and sugar. Moreover, their high fiber content keeps the digestive system fit and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Highly nutritious, oatmeal is a rich source of fiber, which is directly linked to a lower risk of heartburn. It helps fill the stomach, thereby preventing the intake of extra calories and aiding in weight loss. Oatmeal is a good source of antioxidants as well, which helps in reducing inflammation and itching, improving blood flow, and lowering blood pressure.
Rich in its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is highly beneficial for heartburn and similar issues. The spice can be used in treating chronic indigestion, which, in turn, would reduce heartburn symptoms. Ginger also helps reduce the risk of diabetes, prevent heart disease, and aids in weight loss.
Since heartburn originates mainly from the stomach, keeping the organ fit and healthy is central to steering clear of the condition. Yogurt, just like bananas, prevents the formation of any acid. The presence of living bacteria, i.e., probiotics, ensures intestine health and a clean digestive tract. This is instrumental when it comes to averting heartburn symptoms.
- Egg whites
They are a good source of protein, and their low acidic content is crucial in this scenario. The presence of potassium, meanwhile, reduces blood pressure that wards off the risk of cardiovascular disease. Lastly, egg whites also induce weight loss.
- Almond milk
Cow milk, besides being high in fat, can lead to acid reflux. Almond milk is alkaline in nature and has the opposite effect. It neutralizes stomach acid and relieves any symptoms of the condition. Additionally, they are low in calories and sugar content.