Heartburn is a common problem which will affect most people at some point during their lives. Home remedies are frequently advertised that promise to quench heartburn quickly however many of these drugs and home remedies are not without side effects.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is described as a burning sensation in the chest area, especially when lying down or bending forward. It is caused by the backwash of stomach acid into the oesophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. Most people report a sour or bitter aftertaste in the mouth after a heartburn episode. Heartburn is usually caused by the weakening of the lower oesophageal sphincter, LES, a bundles of muscles that are supposed to keep the contents of the stomach out of the oesophagus. When the LES is functioning properly, the valve opens up momentarily to allow food to pass into the stomach. When LES function is impaired, the acidic contents of the stomach go backwards into the oesophagus, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD’s.
Whilst most people will experience heartburn infrequently, for others heartburn is a real ongoing problem which can not only cause discomfort but can also burn the lining of the oesophagus and damage teeth.
Which foods affect heartburn?
The food that you eat can affect how frequent and severe your heartburn could be. Usually foods which cause heartburn are those that are hard to break down causing the body to release more acid or those that cause the oesophageal sphincter to relax. These foods include dairy products, fat-laden products, spices, citrus fruits, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and tomato-based products.
What causes heartburn?
There are many possible causal factors for recurring heartburn and acid reflux which include the poor function of LES, increased production of gastric acid, wearing tight fitting clothes which put pressure on the stomach and abdomen and pregnancy. There are also some disorders which may lead to increased acid production but all these factors nevertheless only account for a small fraction of sufferers from recurring heartburn and acid reflux.
Believe it or not the single biggest causal factor for acid reflux and recurring heartburn is actually a lack of hydrochloric acid and/or digestive enzyme production by the pancreas, not over-production of acid! When food does not get broken down, it just sits there and ferments, creating gas and inflammation. This then backs up into the oesophagus causing the symptoms of heartburn.
Our body is designed to provide digestive enzymes in order for us to digest food. We are also supposed to get some digestive enzymes from the food we eat however this is rarely a source for the majority of us since cooking foods tends to destroy these digestive enzymes. Basically most of us are deficient in digestive enzymes and this is even before we take into other factors which affect digestive enzymes such as age, certain medications, chemical exposure as well as a sugar laden diet.
According to the studies carried out on thousands of people around the age of 60 by John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, half of these people had low acid production. They did not produce sufficient stomach acid to digest food completely but produced just enough to cause the pain of indigestion since this undigested food sits in the stomach for a longer period than normal and then backs up the oesophagus.
Over-production of stomach acid is not that common and generally rare. A good example of this is how we used to attribute ulcers with excess stomach acids until scientists discovered that these ulcers were actually attributed to helicobacter pylori.
The impact of insufficient acid production aside from heartburn is extensive because in the first instance this results in vitamin and mineral deficiencies since food cannot be broken down completely. Nutrient deficiencies mean that all glands within the body cannot function at their optimal level. The result is the acceleration of the ageing process because you are literally starving your body and its glands.
To summarise, here is a small list of side effects of low acid production:
- Bloating, belching and heartburn immediately after meals
- Indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation
- Skin reactions, hives, acne and rashes
- Rectal itching
- Food allergies
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Lowered immune system
- Candida and other gut pathogens begin to thrive
- Protein deficiency leading to a loss of tone
Half of the adult population produce low stomach acid and this explains the popularity of antacid usage for heartburn. Over the counter antacids whilst effective at neutralising stomach acid actually make your digestion worse leaving you at risk of malnourishing the body. And these antacids are only treating the symptoms not the cause. The key to enhancing digestion is to increase stomach acids using a supplement such as Betaine HCl with Pepsin by Lamberts.
Betaine HCl provides the body with hydrochloric acid to supplement low acid production to prevent recurring heartburn and acid reflux. Additionally, using Betaine HCl will increase vitamins and mineral levels in the bloodstream anywhere between 50 and 200 percent depending upon the nutrient itself. This in turn will not only help relieve these stomach concerns but actually help enhance energy levels. Pepsin is one the main digesting enzymes produced by the stomach and its role is to digest proteins. As mentioned previously, proteins are hard to digest and undigested protein is one of the major causal factors for heartburn.
Using Betaine HCl should help to resolve most of the digestive discomfort concerns once and for all.