Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is actually caused by inadequate stomach acids. Your stomach naturally produces Hydrochloric acid to digest food. This acid is what starts the breaking down of food – the first step in digestion. And inadequate acid means that food doesn’t get digested right. Also, this can lead to inflammation of the stomach wall, or problems with the sphincter that is supposed to stop food as well as stomach acid from refluxing back into your food pipe. But when this sphincter is affected, it doesn’t work all that well and the acid comes up and burns your esophageal walls – and this is commonly called heartburn.
Therefore, the long term cure for heartburn would be to get your stomach acid level back to optimum – and when that is done, your food will get digested right and in turn you will not suffer from heartburn because your body will heal itself!
But, the question is…
What can you do?
First things first – the medicines that are normally prescribed – Beta-blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors – do the exact opposite – they actually suppress the acid production to bring you relief from the symptoms! But, underneath all the relief, your condition actually worsens.
Instead, the symptoms should be dealt with using lifestyle changes that encourage proper digestion without affecting your stomach’s acid producing abilities.
And after you’ve done that – it’s time to look into the actual problem…
How does one encourage the stomach to increase its acid production?
Well, the stomach is actually a muscle and its actions are ultimately controlled by the brain. In addition, if it becomes used to producing less HCl, it can actually be trained to slowly increase this. And that is what you need to learn to do!
First up – the brain question
Your body does not actually start digesting food whenever there’s food in the stomach. It is an action that becomes a habit and needs to be initiated by the brain. How your brain and body functions and responds to various situations can also contribute to digestion. For instance, stress – which is a constant in our current fast paced lives – actually inhibits the stomach’s acid production.
Therefore if you were to be eating fast and under a stressful condition – you will most probably suffer from indigestion! So – the first step to take is to get into a habit –
When you eat – do so calmly. Sit down in your chair, take a few moments to calm yourself down – allow the brain to ‘eat with the senses’ first. Because smell and sight are big contributors in getting your digestive juices going. And then eat – and eat slowly at a leisurely pace. Chew your food properly because that and the saliva that your mouth produces also contribute to digestion. Basically – make mealtimes a stress-free affair and work with your body to regulate digestion!
Next up – Natural remedies that can help
Now here are 6 things that you can do in addition to making slow and calm eating a habit:
- Food allergies or sensitivities are actually going to further decrease stomach acid production. So avoid those items to which you are allergic.
- Use Apple Cider Vinegar – this is also acidic and can help your stomach digest food better. The correct pH also encourages the stomach to naturally produce more acid – though this change happens gradually. Mix about 1 tsp or a little less ACV in half a cup of warm water and drink prior to meals.
- Eat more cabbage – raw in salads or lightly cooked. Cabbage contains an essential enzyme that heals the stomach lining. Low acid production can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining – which further inhibits acid production. And this enzyme helps to heal that.
- Low acid production can also be caused by your body not having enough of the raw materials. To give your body those – switch to sea salt as opposed to refined table salt. It contains more minerals and is therefore good for you.
- Low stomach acid often leads to the growth of bacteria in the stomach called H. pylori. In turn, this only makes the acid situation worse. To keep the bacterial growth in control, have Manuka honey. About 2 tsps. a day is fine.
- Watch what you eat – avoid heartburn triggers AND avoid too much water. If you over-hydrate it dilutes the already inadequate stomach acid – worsening the condition!
Heartburn can be intense and difficult to deal with when it does crop up. So instead of taking temporary cures that will only make recurrence likelier – try out these tips and tricks to cure the problem at the root. Increase stomach acid naturally – and see how miraculously that cures your heartburn!