Acid reflux, or heartburn, is both uncomfortable and common. Many people quickly reach for ant-acid medication such as Rennie or Gaviscon which may alleviate the symptoms, but they don’t tend to get to the root of the problem. When someone experiences a burning sensation, it is usually associated with too much stomach acid but the reverse can be the case. Digestion of proteins begins in the stomach involving release of hydrochloric acid, and if too much is produced a little can splash back into
the oesophagus and cause an unpleasant burning sensation. However, if there isn’t enough stomach acid to break the food down fast enough, the food remains in the stomach for longer and begins to produce gas through fermentation. This scenario may also cause some acid to splash back into the oesophagus and cause the same kind of feeling, and other symptoms of indigestion.
Finding a solution can be somewhat confusing because what works for one person may not work for another, so a bit of experimentation and monitoring is needed. If you experience sensations of reflux or heartburn frequently or for a prolonged period, it would be wise to speak to your GP about it, but you may like to try some of these suggestions first:
1. Reflux has been found to be exacerbated by certain foods, e.g. peppermint, dairy products, garlic, spicy foods, tomato-based dishes and chocolate. You could experiment by avoiding these for a while to see if your symptoms improve and then introduce them again, one at a time, to see if they affect you.
2. A heavy or large meal later in the evening sometimes causes sleep disturbance due to reflux, so you could try eating a lighter meal and eat as early as possible, such as around 6 or 6.30 p.m. to allow time for digestion before going to bed.
3. Apple cider vinegar has been found to support stomach acid production. You could try sipping a little of this, about 2-4 teaspoons, diluted with water (about 50:50) just before eating a meal.
4. Eating on the go, or whilst stressed isn’t a good idea because it doesn’t allow time for digestive enzymes to be produced. It is far better to allow time for eating in a relaxed manner, preferably sitting with good posture so your organs have space to function!
5. Bitter foods may help to stimulate production of digestive enzymes, e.g. rocket, chicory or kale, so you could eat a small salad as a starter including these leaves.
6. Pineapple is also reported to stimulate production of these enzymes, so try a few slices of pineapple whilst preparing a meal. Another fruit said to have the same effect is papaya which is great sliced with a squeeze of lime juice.
On the other hand, reflux is often just one part of a combination of digestive issues, so in a one-to-one consultation I would look into all aspects of diet and health to find out how to go about regaining balance throughout the system. We often get so caught up in our busy lives and usual routines that it may be helpful to have someone look at the overall picture to see where improvements are able to be made. Please contact me for a free, no-obligation chat about this if you like, then you can decide if you think it’s the right path for you.