“You know you’re getting older, when the fire in your belly is actually acid reflux.”
Almost everyone has experienced heartburn at some point in their life. In fact, it’s reported that nearly 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Do you suffer from frequent heartburn? If yes, keep reading.
What’s the Difference Between Heartburn and Acid Reflux?
Many people use the terms acid reflux, heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) interchangeably, despite them being different things.
To clear things up:
Heartburn is a sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest that can — but doesn’t always — follow an occurrence of acid reflux. It has nothing to do with the heart, and everything to do with the digestion system.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates up into the esophagus. This happens due to an issue with the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The LES is the of muscle at the entrance of the stomach valve. Its job is to open and close as food passes through it. If it doesn’t close all the way, or if it opens too often stomach acid can make its way into the esophagus which is what we call acid reflux. A symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, but one can have reflux without heartburn occurring. Another common symptom is a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into the throat or mouth.
GERD is a chronic health issue resulting from a more severe form of reflux. Those with GERD will experience heartburn often (weekly, if not daily). They may also experience other signs and symptoms like regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night.
Oftentimes Acid Reflux is triggered by:
• Lying down after a meal
• Being overweight or obese
• Bending over at the waist after eating a heavy meal
• Snacking before bedtime
• Eating certain foods like citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, or spicy or fatty foods
• Drinking certain beverages like alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
• Being pregnant
• Taking aspirin or ibuprofen, or blood pressure medication
What Can You Do?
The good news is there are ways to tame your acid reflux– naturally. Follow these do’s and don’ts to soothe and support your digestive system and get back to a heartburn free life.
The Do’s of Acid Reflux
• Eat smaller or lighter meals throughout the day. Large and heavy meals take longer to digest and increase the chance of reflux.
• Give your belly room to breathe and digest! Tight clothing like yoga pants and skinny jeans can put pressure on your stomach and force food back up into your esophagus.
• Put your detective skills to good use! Use a food journal to identify your heartburn triggers so you can avoid them!
• Sleep on a slope. Elevating your head and chest with an extra pillow can help keep acid where it belongs – in your stomach.
• Support your gut. Consider adding high quality digestive enzymes and probiotics like Ultrazyme and Multi Probiotic 4000 by Douglas Labs to your daily routine. This will help support digestion and restore balance in your gut.
• See your wellness Chiropractor. Nerves control your stomach. If your spine is stressed and out of alignment, signals from your brain will not get through to your stomach and the stomach will weaken. Your Wellness Chiropractor will identify and remove any misalignments that might be interfering with your stomach’s ability to function optimally. Click here to book an appointment now.
The Don’ts of Acid Reflux
• Fuel the fire! Take a break from high acid foods (like the ones listed above) that can irritate your stomach.
• Smoke! Smoking irritates the throat and esophagus. More irritation is the last thing you need when suffering from heartburn.
• Eat too quickly. The fastest eater may get the most but they may also get heartburn. When you don’t chew enough or gulp your food quickly, you by-pass some of the important steps of digestion which puts you at higher risk for indigestion and heartburn.
Which of these heartburn tamers work best for you? Please share in the comments section below. As always, feel free to share this post with anyone you know who may be suffering from heartburn.