Cooling your heartburn

Eating is a pleasurable activity. But when you have heartburn, this joyful experience can turn into a fiery, uncomfortable feeling. And this is the last you want to remember from having a great meal!

Though it is called heartburn, this has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is the burning sensation you feel in the middle of your chest up to your throat due to the digestive acid in the stomach. Heartburn, or also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid indigestion, is a condition in which partially digested food mixed with digestive acid backs up into the esophagus, irritating the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

One of the main causes of heartburn is a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Lower esophageal sphincter acts as a gate, separating esophagus from stomach. It opens when you swallow to allow the passing of food into the stomach and it tightens when the stomach is in action to keep food and acid stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. People with GERD may have a weakened LES thus it doesn’t close tightly. Some people experience heartburn after eating a one big, full meal especially when it consists of fatty-rich foods. Medication and certain emotions (e.g. anxiety, anger, nervousness) may also cause or worsen heartburn. Smoking is another factor that can weaken the LES and alcohol intake worsens the GERD symptoms.

Treatment of GERD depends on how severe the symptoms are. Some may need prescribed medications or even surgery. Yet changing your lifestyle including the way you eat can also improve your condition. These include the following:

  • Eating in small, frequent meals (4-5 meals per day)

  • Avoid fatty foods, caffeine-containing products (e.g. coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks), and highly spiced foods

  • Avoid highly acidic foods that can further irritate GI linings (e.g. tomato, tomato juice, citrus fruits, vinegar)

  • Lose weight to relieve pressure on the diaphragm

  • Take a short walk after eating

  • Sleeping on bed with propped up head approximately 4 inches

  • Avoid drinking alcohol

  • Stop smoking

It is also advisable to be aware of what foods or activities that trigger your acid reflux. The goal is to eliminate these activities and foods to have a fully control on your heartburn. It is also recommended t seek professional medical advice, because if left untreated, chronic GERD can pose serious health problems such as ulceration of the esophagus and worst, esophageal cancer.

Here at Pickle PH, we want you to be able to take control of your lifestyle. Whether it’s losing weight or helping you decrease GERD symptoms, Pickle PH offers balanced, well-thought healthy meals that will fit your new lifestyle and help you maintain it.

Karen Ramos