Feeling the burn? Heartburn, a persistent burning sensation in your chest that usually occurs after you eat, is caused when stomach acid flows up the esophagus. Heartburn can be triggered by a number of factors: eating fatty foods, stress, eating too quickly, and so on. To banish the burn, try these natural remedies home remedies to prevent and treat heartburn.
Acidic foods such as tomato sauce can trigger heartburn. Photo By Wendy/Courtesy Flickr.
Choose wisely. Not all foods are created equal (or digested equally) in the eyes of your stomach. Fatty foods require the stomach to secrete more acid than it does to digest foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Acidic foods such as coffee and tomatoes also trigger heartburn, while certain foods such as garlic and onions can actually weaken muscles near the base of the esophagus, making the body more prone to heartburn. If you frequently suffer from heartburn, watch your diet. Limit your intake of coffee and spicy foods, and incorporate more fruits, veggies and whole grains into your diet.
Eat slowly—and in small portions. Do you frequently eat on the run? Cramming food into our bodies at a high rate of speed can lead to heartburn. Digestion starts in the mouth, so the less time your food spends in your mouth, the more time it will spend in your stomach—and the more time your body spends producing the acid that causes heartburn. A mixture of proper chewing and saliva will help break down food before it reaches the stomach. Eating in small portions can also help prevent heartburn. Overeating causes the stomach to push acid back up the esophagus, and a few extra pounds puts pressure on the stomach, another trigger to send acid upward.
Stress less. Stress causes our body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which can increase output of stomach acid. (Try these nine ways to naturally reduce stress in your life.)
If prevention didn’t work, or if your heartburn is caused by more serious issues than what and how you eat, don’t despair. These natural remedies for heartburn will help cool your pain.
Chew gum. Because saliva is alkaline, it can help neutralize the stomach acid that causes heartburn. Apart from producing saliva, chewing gum also causes your esophageal muscles to contract and force food in the proper direction.
Heal with herbs. Chamomile, licorice root and meadowsweet leaf can decrease the production of acid and calm the digestive track, while marshmallow root and slippery elm bark can help absorb the stomach acid. Try steeping one or two teaspoons of one of these herbs to create a post-meal tea.
Stay upright. Lying down after a meal can increase heartburn, but when sitting or standing, gravity can help force stomach acid back where it belongs. Taking a short walk after meals has the double benefit of keeping you upright and aiding digestion.