What Is the Cause of Heartburn?
If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, you know what it is. And if you are visited by heartburn frequently, like I was most of my life, then you have more than likely come across a home remedy or two in your efforts to function with this very annoying curse. But what is the cause of heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid reflux (heartburn may be considered a symptom of acid reflux, depending on who you ask), is a burning in the chest or bottom of the throat that seems to rise up, like a wave, and happens because stomach acid becomes backed up in the esophagus, which moves food downward, from your mouth towards your stomach. If stomach acid flows back into the esophagus (which could be the result of a faulty valve, called the lower esophageal sphincter, which connects the esophagus and stomach), it will cause this nasty burning sensation.
Baking Soda For Heartburn
I have gotten very used to going everywhere with a bottle full of baking soda and water, which works phenomenally, by the way. Of course, it has a taste that you will probably never quite acquire a liking for, and doesn’t work for long, usually, if your heartburn is at all what you would consider “chronic”.
So, it makes sense to me that if something is such an issue for you that you would have to resort daily to mixing up a large bicarbonate cocktail to carry around with you to get you through the day comfortably, then you should maybe consider what the cause might be, and deal with that. Yes, pretty ingenious, right?! I should get a medal for thinking of such a brilliant idea, after a mere 35 years of living with chronic heartburn!
So. Other than a failing lower esophageal sphincter (Heh-heh. Heh.), what is the cause of heartburn (or causes, likely)?
Well… I am pretty certain that mine was always rooted in lower back issues I’ve had since I was very young, coupled with eating like I hadn’t eaten for a week and food was going out of style. You have to chew your food, evidently.
But next to these two things, the main cause of heartburn is nearly always going to be what you are eating or drinking.
A List of Foods That Cause Heartburn
Many pharmaceutical medications can cause heartburn, as well as tobacco smoking and being overweight or pregnant.
Foods and beverages that are acidic or high in fat, or spicy foods (especially eaten quickly and/or in large quantities) will also be fundamental causes.
Here is a list of foods that cause heartburn:
- High-fat foods, like cheese, nuts, avocados, pizza, fried foods…
- Foods or beverages high in citrus
- Spicy spices
- Alcohol (yes, that’s a food)
- Carbonated beverages
- Creamy sauces, dips and dressings
- And, perhaps contrary to what one might think… Milk (due to its lactic acid content, moreso if the milk is not entirely fresh).
How to Alleviate Heartburn / Foods That Help Heartburn
Some foods that help heartburn, or at least aid slightly in the prevention of it, are potatoes, ginger, melons, veggies, oatmeal, and grains. But where heartburn alleviation and food are concerned, it is more preventative things that should be considered and practiced.
There are commercial medications, such as Nexium that can be effective in controlling heartburn/acid reflux, but it is a terrible drug, and I would only consider taking anything like it if there were a gun to my head, and after putting into practice the natural methods I am mentioning here.
Here is a very good article about these drugs, and why to avoid them (This article also lists some natural things you can take that are not listed here).
If these methods don’t work, then you likely should be looking at probable root causes, which the fixing of could eliminate your symptoms more permanently.
As I mentioned above, I am certain that the fundamental culprits for me have always been eating too fast and back trouble. If you would like to know how to alleviate heartburn without spending money on over-the-counter or prescription medication, there are definitely other things to look at.
My Go To Heartburn Home Remedy
Here’s one great heartburn home remedy, which I would say is the heartburn home remedy of heartburn home remedies. If you know your condition is a result of chronic back trouble or some other chronic condition, and you are doing all the other preventative things, try soda bicarbonate (baking soda and water). This works like magic, if you can get used to the taste, and know that it is a quick and temporary means of relief.
My father used to take garlic tablets regularly, and it did wonders for his heartburn, apparently. I’m not going to spend any time advocating that, however. I seem to recall trying it for a while and it didn’t seem to do much, other than cause me to smell like a garlic processing plant, from a mile away. I know, because I coughed while walking by a buzzard happily perched on the edge of a manure wagon, and he fainted and fell to the ground.
The Bottom Line:
Adjusting your diet and eating habits will be key to helping you to reduce your need for antacids (which, I almost forgot to mention, can have bad long term effects on your health with prolonged use) and can reduce your heartburn symptoms, considerably.
Eating more slowly, and avoiding (or at least limiting your consumption of) food and drink with high contents of fat, sugar, citrus and other acidic things (oh yeah, tomato juice and sauce are very bad), as well as carbonated beverages, coffee and alcohol, etc. will be a big step towards a heartburn-free existence.
You should also be very deliberate in considering any other bad habits you might have that would contribute, and changing or eliminating them. These could include bad posture or eating while not sitting completely upright, or eating right before going to bed. Also, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are bad. But don’t worry. Shooting heroin, driving too fast without a seat belt and swearing are all still okay, as far as not contributing to heartburn/acid reflux.
Other considerations would include back issues, improperly functioning lower esophageal sphincter (which could be caused by the back issue, it would seem to me) and being pregnant.
If you are pregnant, congratulations! Get some baking soda, and consider naming it after me (the baby, not the baking soda). It would mean a lot, seriously.