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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Please Pass the Bicarb

A while back I was having some issues with heartburn, particularly at night.  So I did a bit of research on the topic.  In clearing out some computer files, I found the information I had gathered.  It was helpful to me, so I’ve decided to do a post on it. 

There are several possible causes, including medical issues that are not fixable at home. 

Ones that you can have an effect on include: being overweight, eating too large of a meal – especially before bedtime, food intolerances, stress, and so on.  

So here are a few tips to combat that burning…

Decrease dairy products except fermented ones (like yogurt or Keifer).

Decrease sugar intake.

Don’t dilute stomach acid by drinking at meals.  Drink between meals instead.

Reduce caffeine. 

Red meats can cause heartburn.  Eat more chicken or fish.

Increase eating vegetables.

Pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and apples contain digestive enzymes that can help a sour stomach.

Don’t take medicines (unless so directed) or vitamin/minerals on an empty stomach.

Don’t over-eat.  Be really careful about buffets and potlucks.

Take probiotics.

If you’re already experiencing that hot coal feeling, you’ve probably taken an antacid.  There are some things that should be considered with that.
Antacids may be divided into two classes, those that work by chemical neutralization of gastric acid (sodium bicarbonate, Alka-Seltzer) and those that act by adsorption of the acid such as calcium and magnesium salts.

The chemical antacids show the most rapid onset of action, but may cause "acid rebound," a condition in which the gastric acid returns in greater concentration after the drug effect has stopped.

Taking an antacid is putting a band-aid on the problem.  They have side effects with long term, frequent use (particularly the chemical ones).

They can affect your digestion in all sorts of negative ways.  Bloating, diarrhea, decreased absorption of nutrients, they can increase food allergies, there is an increased risk of digestive tract infections, and the stomach starts compensating for the reduced acid by producing even more.  Another major concern is for the kidneys.  They can contribute to kidney stones!

I’m happy to say that I’ve pretty much overcome my heartburn issues.  I’ve done that by losing weight, eating smaller meals with the evening meal being the lightest, when possible not eating after 5:30pm, drinking a lot of water, and eating more fiber.  (Those last four things have also really helped with the weight loss!)   

Non-medical heartburn isn’t something you have to live with.  

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