11 Natural Ways to Heal and Prevent Heartburn –
11 Natural Ways to Heal and Prevent Heartburn
Follow an elimination diet:
Gluten from grains is the most common food that is causing people heartburn. A good guide to getting off gluten and many other common allergens is a30 Day Detox Diet. Gluten, dairy, soy, and corn are some of the most common foods that cause people heartburn.
Increase your stomach acid:
Notice I am not recommending antacids or acid blockers which suppress stomach acid. We need sufficient stomach acid to kill bacteria, parasites, fungi, and prevent infections. Stomach acid is important to break down protein for cellular growth and repair. Without adequate stomach acid the body will not absorb minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, selenium which will lead to osteoporosis, early aging and chronic disease. Stomach acid decreases with age and stress, in fact it is estimated that women over age 80 produce no stomach acid at all.
Current scientific theory is that heartburn/ GERD is caused by a dysfunction of the muscular valve (sphincter) that separates the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach called LES. The improper opening of this valve lets stomach acid into the esophagus causing discomfort and irritation. This malfunction of the LES is caused by pressure from undigested, overabundant carbohydrate which feed pathogenic bacteria and create excessive hydrogen gas. So if you eat too many carbohydrates and have low stomach acid it will cause a lot gas which pushes on the LES valve, releasing stomach acid into the esophagus which will cause you to get heartburn. Read more here how to get rid of gerd completely.
How do I increase my stomach acid? Try some supplemental Super Enzymes . Directions on how to take it are at the end of this post. There are more ways to increase stomach acid and improve digestion below.
Follow a lower carbohydrate diet:
The average American eats 300 grams of carbohydrate per day which can cause excessive gas and bloating adding to heartburn discomfort. Many of my clients report that their heartburn is eliminated when they reduce their carbohydrate intake to about 100 grams or less and follow a grain free ancestral diet like the one outlined here. Many studies have shown that when participants follow a lower carb diet symptoms of IBS and heartburn/GERD were dramatically reduced or eliminated.
Reduce your stress:
Stomach acid production is reduced by stress which means that undigested food will rise up into the esophagus causing irritation. A good first step to reduce your stress to sleep 8 hours a night in a dark electronic free room. Spend some quiet time each day stretching, meditating, or walking outside is another important step. Read more about reducing stress here.
Chew your food until it is liquefied:
Our stomach does not have teeth so when we gulp down our food in a hurry it may not get broken down in the stomach. This will delay the stomach from emptying into the small intestine and cause more heartburn. Chewing “primes the pump” meaning it sends signals downstream to the stomach. Properly masticating your food will release digestive enzymes so food will be better absorbed. Try to chew each bite 20 times and set a clock to make your meals last 20 minutes. Playing some relaxing music can help you slow down and enjoy your food. Doing EFT before meals can also help to stimulate digestion and help you eat slower to avoid overeating.
Sit at the dining room table when you eat:
When we eat on the run (also standing up or in the car) it is a guarantee that we will be in sympathetic mode which signals to your body to make more cortisol and shunt blood away from the digestive organs. We will not be in rest and digest mode if the body fears for it’s survival and this will keep food from being properly broken down which will lead to more heartburn. If you sit still without distraction from the TV you are less likely to overeat which can also reduce heartburn frequency.
Eat more bitters:
Bitters found in leafy greens like kale, chard, and spinach stimulate bile for fat breakdown. Bitters improve digestion and reduce the heartburn attacks by increasing stomach acid, saliva, and pepsin which breaks down protein. You can also take a few drops of bitters before a meal to aid indigestion such as Sweetish Bitters Elixir . Bitters can also help if you have an upset stomach after eating. Another great way to improve digestion is to take a few tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar before meals.
Eat probiotic foods:
When people have been eating a diet high in sweets and grains for many years we get an imbalance beneficial bacteria which can cause unpleasant digestive symptoms such as heartburn, gas, and bloating, and constipation. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and it’s juice have been used in European countries for thousands of years to deal with ulcers and digestive upset because it is high in glutamine which heals the gut.
If the thought of eating fermented foods grosses you out you can also take a supplement like Dr. Ohira’s probiotic but using fermented food will always be a better option. A good sauerkraut recipe can be found here. If you just want to buy your kraut I recommend Bubbie’s or Farmhouse Culture brands which can be found in many areas. It is important to get organic unpasteurized kraut to get the digestive benefits.
Eat more coconut oil:
Since coconut oil needs no bile or pancreatic enzymes to be broken down it will be much easier on your digestive system. It can help to sooth IBS type symptoms according to the Dr. Bruce Fife the coconut expert. Since coconut oil is anti-viral it can help reduce H. Pylori and other infections that contribute to heartburn and digestive distress. This is my favorite brand which has almost no coconut after taste. It is also a good idea to avoid food toxins like canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and grapeseed oil and which are indigestible and cause a great deal of inflammation in the digestive tract which adds to heartburn frequency. You can more about why these seed oils are toxic here.
Drink liquids away from meals:
Only drink enough to swallow your Betaine HCl which helps break down your food. It is a bad idea to dilute your stomach acid with too many liquids. Always try to drink a lot of water between meals . Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour before or after eating to maximize digestion.
|Ginger: great for soothing heartburn!|
If you try the above methods but still over eat or sometimes make a poor food choice ginger can help to calm the burning sensation. You can buy ginger tea Organic Ginger tea or just cut off some of the fresh root and boil it. I like to just cut a small piece of the root and chew it up. This is the easiest thing in the middle of the night when you are suffering. It can make the discomfort go away almost instantly so you can get back to sleep.
Tips for taking digestive supplements:
When using supplemental Betaine HCl take it at the beginning of a meal. Start with one pill that is 600 mg for two days with a protein containing meal. If you feel no discomfort you can increase your dosage until you feel a warmth in your stomach. This warmth is telling you that you have reached your dose. If you feel like you have taken too much you can just take a teaspoon of baking soda in a little water to eliminate any discomfort. About 2000 mg is the normal amount contained in the stomach during a meal. It is a good idea to consult a professional if you are having digestive problems that persist.
If taking hydrochloric acid freaks you out you can start with Super Enzymes and see if that improves your digestion. Just take a few with each meal to help breakdown fats, carbs and proteins.
Need More Help? Get started on the path to healing Heartburn with this awesome guide:
Digestive Wellness by Liz Lipski Ph.D
Eat Fat Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon