Let’s talk HEARTBURN .
SO many people suffer from acid reflux, and SO many of those people resort to OTC or prescription pills to manage it. It can be killer during pregnancy, especially once the babe starts taking up a lot of room. There has got to be a better way to prevent and manage this than MORE PILLS, right?! (short answer is yes).
There are Tums, Pepcid and acid reducer chewies (like starburst consistency) that all help in the short term, but honestly they’re not good for your digestion and only make the problem worse long-term.
Stomach acid is extremely important for us to properly digest our food. It awaits whatever we put into our bellies, and its job is to break the food down in to a puree that can then easily travel through our intestines so we can absorb the nutrients. It also kills off bad bacteria in foods and therefore can prevent illness!
Our stomach can tolerate a crazy amount of acid because of its lining, but our esophagus can’t. So when food mixed with stomach acid gets backed up and starts to travel up our esophagus, it BURNS.
When we take OTC acid reducers, they provide immediate relief because they reduce that acid that is hitting our esophagus. However, we NEED that acid to break down foods and kill off pathogens, so if it’s not there, food is more likely to back up and then cause more reflux and therefore heartburn. VICIOUS CYCLE.
How can it cause heartburn if the acid is reduced?
Well, even if the acid is reduced, it’s still more acidic than neutral. The pH of our stomach should be between 1.5-3 (out of 14) in order to do its job well. Neutral is 7, so anything between 3-7 is not enough to break down foods but too much for our esophagus to tolerate without discomfort. It’s a terrible place to be!
So what do we do!?
Well, I have some tricks up my sleeve.
- 100% Aloe Vera Water is actually amazing at reducing heartburn without disrupting our body’s natural stomach acid. This is a huge jug and you just drink 2 ounces at a time, a couple times a day. I swear by it. It’s hard to believe it really works because it looks and tastes like regular water, but it’s in my Amazon cart right now because I finally used mine all up since I believe it works.
- Lemon water in the mornings helps start the day off in a good place for digestion. Despite lemons being acidic, once our body digests the juice, it actually contributes to keeping the body more pH balanced. It basically turns alkaline in the body.
- Apple cider vinegar can also achieve this, but make sure you only take up to 1 tbsp per day and dilute it with water as it is strong.
- Decrease refined sugars and processed foods in your diet. These things steal nutrients in the process of being digested, and make the body work harder than it does when eating real, whole foods. Whole foods have enzymes that help you digest them- processed foods don’t. I notice more heartburn symptoms after eating something heavy like a packaged brownie.
- Digestive enzymes help you digest foods better by providing the stomach with more of the enzymes it needs to do so. The more efficient our digestion, the less likely reflux occurs. If you know you’re about to eat a food that causes reflux, give them a try (you take them with food).
- I use Gastrazyme from Biotics Research, but there are tons out there.
- Pure Encapsulations makes these, which not only have the enzymes to digest all your macronutrients, but also includes Betaine HCL which is stomach acid itself. YES, taking stomach acid will help reduce acid reflux. It sounds crazy but if you truly understand digestion it’s the magic of it all.
- On this note, taking HCL (hydrochloric acid) could be a separate bullet point for improving stomach acid, but when taken improperly or in too-high of doses, it can also be damaging. Also, we want our body to make its own HCL and not rely on outside sources for it. Stomach pH is about balance, and you should really focus on food and lifestyle changes over pills.
- This might seem silly, but chew your food for longer. Seriously, if we help it break down before it hits the stomach, digestion will be easier. Slow down your meals and your chewing and make sure you’re not swallowing things whole!
**BONUS TIP!** For those who use essential oils: Young Living has a blend called Digize. Put a drop or two on the top of your stomach and massage in a clockwise motion (the direction of digestion). This can be helpful for stomach pains, cramps or upset in addition to heartburn and indigestion.
Can I still have emergency TUMS on hand!?
Of course. Do what you gotta do to get relief in the moment. But I’m telling you, if you change some habits like the ones above, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by preventing the burn instead of having to treat it.
Want to dig deeper into the science of stomach acid and why it’s so important?
Check out my post reviewing the book, “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” by M.Evans