Heartburn affects around 4 in every 10 people in the UK. So, what is causing this issue? Occasional heartburn is mostly due to our digestive system not working properly, which can cause us to feel a burning pain in the chest. Heartburn can also be accompanied by occasional wind or bloating, which are also signs of an inefficient digestive system.
For most people, occasional heartburn feels like a burning pain in the chest or throat area. It is often felt behind the breastbone. Because the pain is in the region of the heart, it became known as heartburn, even though it does not actually involve the heart. It can also be accompanied by an unpleasant sour taste in the mouth.
When we swallow, food is carried from the mouth down a tube called the oesophagus into the stomach. At the end of the oesophagus is a valve, called the lower oesophageal sphincter, which is designed to keep the acidic contents of the stomach from escaping back into the oesophagus. In some people, however, the valve does not close correctly, and this can lead to problems with heartburn. In the case of heartburn, the acid from the stomach moves upwards into the oesophagus instead of staying in the stomach. This is where the term ‘acid reflux’ comes from, when the acid and stomach contents travel upwards into the throat area causing a burning sensation.
Most prescription treatments for heartburn involve ways to block and decrease stomach acid, but these treatments do not effectively deal with the root cause of an impaired digestive system. In addition, acid-blocking medication can cause unwanted side effects.
Heartburn can be very disruptive to daily life, causing us to feel pain whenever we eat. The occasional wind and bloating that accompanies it can also be extremely uncomfortable. Here are 4 quick tips that can really help:
1. Avoid heartburn causing foods
Certain foods tend to trigger heartburn, although these can differ from person to person. Avoiding foods that cause the most discomfort can lessen our chances of feeling heartburn. Here are some common foods that often trigger occasional heartburn:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Oily foods
2. Slow down
Take your time when eating and be sure to chew thoroughly. Many occasional digestive issues like heartburn can be caused by eating too quickly. The faster you eat, the more the lower oesophageal sphincter has to work, which increases the likelihood that acid may escape from the stomach and into the oesophagus. By eating more slowly, you are also allowing more time for chewing. Slowing down can also reduce the chance of overeating.
3. Do not overeat
Overeating is another common cause of heartburn. Sometimes we overeat without realising it, especially when we eat too quickly or have too many large meals. By overeating, we are increasing the pressure that we place on our stomach - both physically and the expectation for it to work harder in order to digest more quickly. The faster we try to force our digestive systems to work, the more digestive discomfort and heartburn we can experience.
4. Take a digestive enzyme supplement
Digestive enzyme supplements are a great natural way to improve your digestive health and help reduce heartburn. By taking a supplement that is rich in enzymes, you can improve your digestion and make sure your digestive system is being efficient.
Look for digestive formulas that contain vegetarian enzymes for digesting proteins, carbohydrates, fibres and fats. These formulas will include a multiple blend of proteases, amylases, cellulases, and lipases. The best digestive enzyme supplements also work at multiple pH levels, covering the full acid to alkali range, so they continue to work no matter where they are in your digestive system.
Enzymedica’s Acid Soothe was created specifically to tackle the pain of occasional heartburn. In addition to a wide range of digestive enzymes, it also contains papaya leaf and marshmallow root extracts, along with a special form of zinc to help soothe the stomach lining. The combination of these key ingredients may reduce your heartburn and help maintain your digestive health as well.