Ah, heartburn. Most of us have, unfortunately, experienced this: you’ve just enjoyed a huge, delicious meal, and are ready to either take a nice long stroll or go right back to bed. Then the early creeping feeling of acid reflux begins — an acrid, biting, burning sensation that starts backing its way up your throat, accompanied by a bitter, sour taste. Then your stomach starts rumbling, and your chest feels like you might as well be experiencing a heart attack — if you’re one of the unlucky ones, this discomfort might last for a few minutes, but if you’re in the unlucky camp, it could take hours. You might have difficulty swallowing, and if this happens regularly, you could start losing your voice on a regular basis.
If you suffer from regular heartburn, there are plenty of very effective over-the-counter medications on the market to help with your symptoms, but one of the most important basic steps to reducing heartburn is a change in diet. We asked Dr. Deepa Verma of Synergistiq Intregrative Health to provide us with her opinions on the issue. "Most of the foods that trigger heartburn do the same dirty deed — they all relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which allows for backwash of acid into the esophagus, causing acid reflux," Dr. Verma explains.
This esophageal sphincter just doesn’t work as well as it should in some people, who experience the pain of heartburn — or acid reflux, which is often the beginning of heartburn for many — on a regular basis. Another issue that might be at stake is portion control.
"Additionally, the bigger your meals are, the more you are predisposed to getting heartburn. Eating large portions overwhelms the stomach and it cannot empty and digest that quickly, so food sits around for a much longer time," Dr. Verma tells us. "Since it has no place to go, the excess acid in the stomach that is produced to promote digestion, along with the pressure from excess gastric contents, cause the LES to open up, making way for a nasty heartburn."