Heartburn after a meal is no fun. But did you know that it’s a completely avoidable experience with a conventional treatment that actually makes it worse?
Usually when we get heartburn, the known strategy is to reach for a bottle of antacids and keep chewing those chalky tablets until it’s gone. For chronic heartburn, you might even be prescribed an acid blocker for long-term use.
Why Antacids Don’t Work
But these antacids and acid blockers are actually doing the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.
Heartburn comes from low stomach acid, not having too much stomach acid. The stomach starts producing extra acid to make up for it, and then you feel the burn. So taking an antacid or acid blocker will actually promote heartburn and cause long term damage because it further reduces already low stomach acid. Your stomach never has an opportunity to get balanced.
That’s not to mention the other additives included in your acid-blocking medication, like dyes, flavorings, or chemical stabilizers. Those can contribute to other health issues over time as well.
Treating Heartburn Naturally When It Happens
Instead, we actually want to introduce more acid into the stomach to help it digest the food. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water is a super easy way to help balance the stomach pH and eliminate heartburn without taking any harmful pills.
Lemon juice also works in place of apple cider vinegar. That’s not to say that water with lemon will save you from ever experiencing heartburn at your meals or that you should continue your food and lifestyle habits as normal and cancel out your heartburn with a drink later. Heartburn is a signal that a major issue is happening, and it can cause damage over time. Therefore, it’s important to get to the root cause.
Stopping Heartburn At The Root Cause
To treat heartburn, we have to get to the reason it’s happening in the first place — the root cause. There’s a reason you get it because it’s not a normal, healthy human response to eating food. And obviously taking any kind of pill isn’t the path to healing.
Inflammatory foods and stress are both major causes of heartburn.
Long term changes necessary to eliminate heartburn include an improved diet that removes inflammatory foods. Remove processed foods from your diet and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Carbonated drinks can also be an irritant. Don’t eat foods high in sugar (real or fake), fried foods, or vegetable oils.
Spicy foods can be a trigger for some people. Other times foods like citrus, tomatoes, garlic, and onion can cause heartburn. While some of these foods are healthy, if your digestive system is already irritated from frequent heartburn, you might have to stay away temporarily until you can heal.
Intentionally reducing stress and keeping the body in a parasympathetic state is also important not just as a critical link to overall health but also keeping heartburn at bay. The nervous system and brain are connected to the digestive system so your thoughts and feelings can directly impact your gut and cause heartburn to flare up. Perhaps you’ve experienced this before if you’ve gotten an upset stomach before a big presentation that you were nervous about.
Heartburn doesn’t have to be a way of life. There’s nothing normal about it to a healthy body. If you experience heartburn, consider it a red flag and look at what you’ve been eating and how you’re feeling to see what the root cause might be.