Most trainers tell you to feel the burn when exercising, which means your training is actually working. But there are instances in life when feeling the burn is not exactly a good thing: after eating is one of them! If you feel like your throat is burning after having a meal, it probably means you’re suffering from heartburn or even acid reflux.
As the name indicates, acid reflux means the hydrochloric acid contained in your stomach goes back into your food pipe and makes you feel as if it’s burning you. Heartburn is closely connected to acid reflux and is usually a sign that something is wrong in your body. In fact, these very common conditions can steal the enjoyment of eating or drinking something delicious.
If you believe you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, the first step toward healing is to consult with a doctor and look for treatment. But even if you can take antacids to combat the problem, there are many natural treatments for heartburn you can try out. Would you like to know more? Keep on reading and discover the best natural remedies for reflux that will make your digestion much more enjoyable.
#1 - Are Acid Reflux and Heartburn the Same Thing?
While these two terms are usually used as synonyms, the truth is they are not the same thing (and they have nothing to do with your heart!). Let’s see why! Acid reflux is a common condition, medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, where the acid contained in your stomach flows up into your oesophagus or food pipe.
Our stomach and food pipe are separated by a ring of muscle that acts as a valve, letting food into your stomach but not letting it go back. In people with GERD, this valve fails and the food you ate returns to your oesophagus together with some digestive acid.
Heartburn, on the other hand, is the feeling that something is burning up your chest, usually after eating. When heartburn is more frequent or interferes with your daily life, it can be the sign of a more serious condition, such as GERD. Untreated acid reflux disease can lead to chronic inflammation of your food pipe, ulcers, scar tissue, and even bleeding oesophagus. Now, let’s uncover what causes heartburn and acid reflux and how to avoid having these annoying and painful symptoms.
#2 - Who Gets Acid Reflux and Heartburn?
Unfortunately, virtually anyone can suffer from acid reflux and heartburn. To make matters worse, sometimes the reasons are unknown! However, there’s a certain group of people who are especially susceptible to having acid reflux: pregnant women, smokers, people who lead a sedentary life or have weight problems, or asthma patients. Let’s understand what causes heartburn and reflux below.
#3 - How to Treat Acid Reflux and Heartburn Naturally
If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD or frequently suffer from heartburn and don’t want it to develop into something more serious, you’ll be happy to know there are many natural remedies for reflux you can try. These are easy, safe, and inexpensive ways to relieve your symptoms at home.
Ginger is Your Best Friend
Ginger is a plant that originated in Southeast Asia and can be easily incorporated into your diet. Why should you use ginger as a natural remedy for reflux? Well, research suggests (5) that ginger can be beneficial for digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, and heartburn.
So, if you want to give it a try and reduce your annoying symptoms, you can use ginger in tea, add it to your soup, grate it in your salads, and more! And if you are not really into ginger, you can use it in recipes together with other ingredients of strong taste to mask its flavor.
Try Out Herbal Teas
Choosing healthy food and drinks like herbal teas can also help you reduce the symptoms of your acid reflux disease. In addition to being delicious, tea has very few side effects and can bring about a lot of good effects for your health. These are some of your best options:
- Chamomile is well-known for helping people relax and sleep better, but did you know it can also help you with your reflux? This amazing herb can relax your muscles and decrease inflammation, keeping your stomach calm and acids in place.
- Licorice tea is another powerful aid in your fight against acid reflux. It has soothing properties that calm irritation in your stomach and oesophagus and a sweet taste, too!
- Fennel seeds have oil that promotes digestion, calms your stomach, and reduces bloating, so having fennel tea right after dinner can alleviate the burning sensation of reflux if you have it.
- Other herbs, such as marshmallow root or papaya extract can also be allies in calming your symptoms, improving digestion, and doing away with nausea and dizziness.
Mind you, not all teas are helpful with GERD. Caffeine and mint may worsen your symptoms (6), so replacing black tea (high in caffeine) with decaffeinated herbal drinks can reduce the risk of acid reflux. And you can complement these amazing herbal teas with our Ultra Absorb L-Glutamine, which relieves digestive pain and bloating while sealing fissures in your oesophagus lining caused by stomach acid.
Have a High Fibre Diet
Eating more fibre is not only useful when you’re trying to lose some weight. A fibre-rich diet is essential for boosting your heart health and keeps your gut healthy, acting as a great natural remedy for reflux (7). Beans, rice, wheat, and other high-fibre foods are usually low in fat, which reduces the chances of having heartburns. Plus, fibre-rich food items contain prebiotics, which are vital to having healthy gut bacteria and, in turn, healthy intestines.
If you are short of ideas about what food items to incorporate into your diet, here are some tasty options to prevent that stinging feeling in your chest from appearing:
- Cereals and porridge
- Brown rice
- Potato skin
- Lentils, chickpeas, and beans
Apart from adding fibre to your acid-reflux-fighting toolbox, you can use our Fermented Happy Fibre system to give your gut health a boost. It contains green banana powder to nourish your gut microbiota, promoting digestive relief, flushing away toxins, and overall promoting feelings of happiness and wellbeing. And the best part is that it’s very easy to use: just add a bit of powder to your food and drinks and start enjoying a healthy gut!
#4 - Habits to Avoid
As with any other disease, there are certain habits and factors that put you at a bigger risk of suffering from GERD. Luckily, most of them are lifestyle changes you can introduce little by little and reduce your risk of suffering GERD. Whether you’re suffering from heartburn as an occasional discomfort or acid reflux as a disease, these are the habits you should avoid to boost your gut health.
Don’t Eat too Late
How many times did you arrive home late, realized you had nothing to eat and ended up having dinner around 11 pm? This is not harmful if done sporadically, but having dinner too late can negatively impact your health and put you at a greater risk of suffering from acid reflux. A study carried out in 2013 (8), for example, discovered that people who go to sleep less than 3 hours after having dinner had a much higher chance of having GERD.
This suggests that a gap of at least 4-5 hours before going to bed is beneficial for your stomach, as it can digest food in a much more efficient way if you are sitting or standing instead of lying down in bed.
Cut Down on Triggers
If you feel like your reflux and heartburns are worse after having garlic, mint, caffeinated drinks, spicy food, or alcohol, then you are absolutely right. These foods can irritate your gastrointestinal system due to a variety of reasons. Spicy food, for example, typically contains a substance called capsaicin, which makes your digestion go slower.
This means food stays longer in your stomach and can cause heartburn and acid reflux. Similarly, garlic and mint can irritate your food pipe while alcohol promotes the production of even more hydrochloric acid (9). Try to steer clear of these irritating foods to keep your acid reflux symptoms at bay!
Don’t Exercise After Eating
Exercising immediately after eating can be a bad idea if you suffer from GERD. A calm stroll is OK, but a more vigorous workout can send acid into your oesophagus, especially if it involves bending over or lying down. It’s best to wait for a couple of hours after your last meal before training to avoid those painful heartburns.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Having a fresh Coke after a very long day may be tempting, but you should avoid it if you want to do away with your symptoms of acid reflux. Carbonated drinks distend your stomach and make you burp, sending acid into your food pipe. So, try to steer clear of fizzy drinks and replace sparkling water with plain water. Your gut will thank you for it!
Keep the Burn for the Gym
All in all, heartburn and acid reflux disease can affect your quality of life and turn the enjoyable experience of eating into a nightmare. The first step towards healing is to consult with a physician to determine what causes your heartburn or reflux and outline the best treatment for you. Meanwhile, you can use natural remedies for acid reflux and introduce lifestyle changes that will help you feel better without any risks.
Paying close attention to the foods that aggravate your heartburns (and avoiding them), quitting smoking, trying to keep a healthy weight, and introducing more fibre in your diet are only some of the measures you can take to start healing your acid reflux and heartburn. Taking herbal teas, in addition, will help calm your stomach, reduce the amount of acid produced by it, and soothe your digestive tract to avoid the pain caused by reflux.