The Truth About Heartburn: What It Is, And How To Avoid It

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Heartburn is a condition that affects millions of people every day, and many of them simply choose to accept it as an unfortunate fact of life. The truth is that most cases of heartburn are preventable, and a great number of people are afflicted by this unpleasant condition because of the things they eat, and other behaviors they might never think could be linked to it. In this article, we will get the bottom of what really causes heartburn and list some natural, simple steps you can take to rid yourself of this condition.


What Heartburn Really Is

As you probably already know, heartburn does not actually affect the heart at all. The term merely describes an uncomfortable, burning sensation that occurs in the center of the chest. This pain is caused by stomach acid shooting upward into the lower esophagus, where it does not belong. Your stomach acid is designed to dissolve and break down foods into molecules which the body can convert into energy. Your stomach walls have a special, natural lining which protects it from the corrosive effects of stomach acid. (This is why you are not keeling over from stomach pain all the time.) When a hole forms in this lining, it is called an ulcer, which can be quite painful, as the stomach acid begins to burn the unprotected area of the stomach walls.

When you get heartburn, that same thing is happening in your lower esophagus, which has no special lining. The stomach acid creates a painful, burning sensation which can be too unpleasant to ignore.

Chronic heartburn is known as acid reflux disease. There are number of non-prescription medications you can buy which can alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, but none of them address the root causes. Making some changes to your diet and lifestyle, however, can have real and lasting benefits for those who want to free themselves of the pain of heartburn.


Foods, Drinks and Other Things That Can Trigger Heartburn

There are many foods which can trigger episodes of heartburn. Some of them are more or less what you would expect, while others might surprise you.

1. Tomatoes are one food that can cause heartburn to occur. While tomatoes do contain many nutrients, the juices in tomatoes are also very acidic and likely to trigger heartburn. The tomato sauce found on many pizza recipes is why many people report getting heartburn after enjoying a few slices of pizza.

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2. One thing that can trigger heartburn which you may not have expected is caffeine. It is the legal drug which helps many people get through their day. While it is highly beneficial for many people, the evidence shows that it can also increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing heartburn. This is because caffeine can cause the muscles in the sphincter of your esophagus to relax, which allows stomach acid to flow upward. Smoking, interestingly, can produce a similar effect.

3. Fatty and oily foods can also elevate the risk of heartburn slightly because they take longer to digest. As they take up space in the stomach, they put pressure on the sphincter muscle of the esophagus, which allows stomach acid to seep into the esophageal chamber and cause heartburn.

4. Alcohol, and red wine in particular, is also known for increasing the chances of a heartburn episode. Considering the fact that red wine is often paired with Italian dishes that make use of tomato sauce, it is not surprising that some people experience heartburn after such a meal.

Now, just because you see things listed here, it does not mean you will experience heartburn if you partake in them. It just means that they can increase the risk of heartburn in some individuals. Luckily for you, simply adjusting your diet and lifestyle somewhat can eliminate these risks.


READ MORE: The Dangers Of Heartburn And Acid Reflux Drugs They Never Tell You About


Counteracting Heartburn

Eating lots of high-fiber foods can reduce your risk of heartburn, as will  consuming ginger. But there is one thing that can help counteract heartburn which few people would ever suspect—and it is produced by your own body.

Saliva is actually quite effective at neutralizing stomach acid that gets into your esophagus. One way to produce more of it is to chew gum or something similar that will cause the mouth to salivate. Of course, you’ll need to stay hydrated in order to produce that saliva, so drinking lots of water is important too.

Try these simple, natural approaches out for yourself and you can significantly reduce your risk of heartburn.