I often see cases of heartburn and indigestion in my practice.
Sensations range from a gnawing feeling in the upper-belly to acid burning up into the throat and even out the mouth, scorching the
lips. Heartburn can occur due to a variety of reasons including poor dietary habits, pregnancy, medication use (and abuse), tobacco use, low stomach acid, a hernia, and longstanding health conditions.
Symptoms can creep on you; “I’ve had this for so long”, “I don’t remember when it started, but now everything I eat seems to aggravate it” are what I hear frequently in my office.
Heartburn, acidity, indigestion, and even ulcers are achy (at best) and extremely distressful (at worst).
Here are 5 strategies to help reduce bloating and heartburn:
Symptoms of heartburn and reflux are commonly triggered by the foods we eat.
Foods that make reflux worse: acidic foods/juices, high fats, red meats, greasy foods, onion and garlic, spicy foods, tomatoes, and peppermint. If you experience heartburn after meals, consider taking these foods OUT of your diet.
First, posture, posture, posture (while eating)! Maintaining an upright posture helps the food move downwards towards your stomach.
Second, longterm stress may also worsen symptoms of heartburn. Stress puts the body into a state of fight or flight; the opposite is rest and digest. This means that less blood flow is supplied to the digestive system and more supplied to the organs and muscles responsible for dealing with perceived threats. Less blood flow to the digestive system results in the lower esophageal sphincter (connects the esophagus to the stomach) staying open thus allowing for stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus. Re: heartburn.
I like practicing mindful eating techniques. Enjoying my meals when I’m the least distracted (stressed) in order to ensure that my food is digested and nothing splashes back up. To learn more, check out my tips for mindful eating.
Chronic NSAID use
NSAIDs are often used as a tool to help decrease pain and inflammation in the body. Unfortunately one of the side effects includes the erosion of the mucosal lining (protective layer) of the digestive tract; less protection = more injury from acid and digestive juices.
Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options for managing pain and inflammation that spare the mucosal lining; I often recommend options to patients who are looking for healthier solutions to managing their pain. (More on this soon, but my favourite go-to is acupuncture!)
Eliminate alcohol and coffee
These substances relax the tone of the LES and increasing the production of stomach acid. This can worsen symptoms of heartburn and reflux.
Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed
This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining an upright posture while eating. Waiting a couple of hours between your last meal and bedtime ensures that your meal has been digested and nothing is left behind triggering the production of stomach acid. (And of course, that nothing splashes back up!)
So there you have it! 5 easy strategies for decreasing the burning feeling after meals.
Tested these techniques out and looking for more individualized solutions? Book in with me and find out how Naturopathic Doctors in Toronto can improve your symptoms and prevent heartburn from “splashing up” again!