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Heartburn - the root cause and how to help acid reflux

Heartburn is an unpleasant burning sensation in the oesophagus with a sour taste in the mouth. Pains can also be felt in the chest (hence the English name "heartburn").

Heartburn is one of the symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux (GERD), a syndrome of problems caused by the reflux of stomach contents into the oesophagus. In order to eliminate heartburn, you must first identify its cause.

There are many foods that can cause these symptoms and they need to be avoided:

- spicy foods

- fried foods

- caffeine, alcohol

- carbonated drinks

- citrus and fruit juices

- wheat

- in some cases

, raw vegetables and fruits

A very common bacterium that can also cause acid reflux, for whose discovery won the Nobel Prize for Barry Marshall, is Helicobacter pylori. Not only does it cause heartburn and acid reflux (by lowering the acid levels in the stomach), it is also a very common cause of gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Heartburn can also occur for mechanical reasons, when the upper gastric sphincter is too relaxed (e.g. in pregnant women, when high levels of progesterone affect muscle relaxation or after drinking mint tea for relaxing), or when there is additional pressure on the stomach (in obese people), during pregnancy - as a result of uterine pressure on the stomach walls). Full meals and going to bed with a full stomach keep the food flowing back into the oesophagus.

Acid reflux can also have a biochemical basis, if we lack magnesium; the lower gastric sphincter also remains clamped, preventing the stomach contents from passing further. Stress also causes tightening of the lower stomach sphincter and greater production of stomach acid. Zinc is essential for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

You may be surprised, but low stomach acid can also cause heartburn. How does it happen? If we have too little hydrochloric acid, food remains in our stomach for too long, the excess food pushes the stomach acid present upwards (even though there is not that much of it). A lack of stomach acid turns out to be a more common cause of heartburn than excess stomach acid. That's why it's worth doing a homemade baking soda test to help you find out. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 150 ml of water and drink it as soon as you wake up. The 'burp' time should be measured - if it appears in the period of 40-180 seconds, we probably have the right level of acid, if it does not appear within 3 minutes, it is probably low acid.

Are gastric acid neutralising drugs the best solution?

Unfortunately no :( When they were first introduced to the market, it was recommended that they should be used for no more than 6 weeks, it was justified. Unfortunately, these recommendations are no longer valid. Prolonged use of medications for heartburn can lower stomach acid levels, so we can stop absorbing iron, magnesium, calcium or vitamin B12. Adequate stomach acid levels also affect protein digestion, if not properly digested, too much food passes further into the intestines, which can cause gases and other digestive problems. Additionally in order to protect us against bacteria and other pathogens in food – stomach acid pH is in the range 1.5-3, in which they will not survive. However if there is too little of it, they can pass further into the body and harm us, causing the growth of bacteria in the intestines, excessive flatulence and gas.

How to support a person with heartburn?

1. Reduce stress - In traditional Chinese medicine, stress affects the liver, which must be in synergy with the stomach and the whole body, if we do not reduce stress, both organs will work less well.

2. Avoid fried, highly processed food, wheat, coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, citrus, fruit juices.

3. It is worth checking potential food intolerances and the presence of H. pyloria bacteria.

4. Eat smaller portions and more frequently.

5. Go to sleep min. 3 hours after a meal and sleep with your head slightly higher than the rest of your body.

6. Chew your foods long enough.

7. When heartburn appears:

a) eat a stick of celery, cucumber

b) eat a handful of almond flakes

c) drink chamomile tea (never mint tea!)

d) prepare a drink: 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water

e) pour a teaspoon of ground linseed with water, wait 10 minutes and drink it - it will protect the stomach walls; Marshmallow root also has similar properties, which when boiled creates mucus with soothing properties for the stomach walls

Remember, you are not doomed to heartburn, appropriate changes in your diet, stress reduction and weight reduction will help minimise this ailment and, additionally, avoid the use of medications.

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