What is heartburn?
Most people are familiar with heartburn from personal experience. It is usually a burning pain that rises up the esophagus from the stomach. In English, heartburn is also known as “heart pain” because the pain can radiate into the upper body. Heartburn pain can be mild, but it can also be very severe.
Heartburn occurs when stomach contents move back up into the esophagus from the stomach. The chyme enriched with gastric acid irritates the mucous membrane of the esophagus. This results in typical pain. In the long term, recurrent heartburn promotes esophageal disorders such as esophagitis, which in turn increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
For detailed information on symptoms, causes, and treatment of conditions related to the esophagus, see the following posts:
- Reflux disease
- Esophageal cancer
Nutritional therapy for heartburn & reflux disease focuses on relieving the stomach. On the one hand, it is about taking pressure off the stomach in the truest sense of the word. On the other hand, it is important not to irritate the stomach unnecessarily.
Diet For Heartburn: Relieve The Stomach Of Pressure
Overweight and pregnant women are much more likely to have heartburn than people of normal weight or slim people. There is a simple explanation for this: the larger the stomach, the more body mass presses on the stomach. This increases the pressure on the muscle that closes the esophagus at the transition to the stomach. When this lower esophageal muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter, can no longer withstand the pressure, stomach acid-laden contents of the stomach rise up into the esophagus.
In pregnant women, the strain on the esophageal sphincter inevitably decreases after birth. If you are overweight, on the other hand, there is only one option in the long run: The weight has to be reduced to relieve the stomach of physical pressure.
Small Meals Relieve The Stomach
Just as excess weight puts pressure on the stomach, the pressure in the stomach itself can become so great that the esophageal sphincter is excessively stressed. A tip that is very easy to implement helps against this: Simply eat several smaller meals a day. Incidentally, this also helps with weight loss. Regular small meals ensure a balanced blood sugar level so that appetite and feelings of hunger do not become unnecessarily large. By the way: tight clothing also increases the pressure on the stomach. So: just open your belt or wear something comfortable to eat.
Anyone who gulps or eats hastily puts unnecessary strain on the lower esophagus and upper stomach. This increases the risk of stomach contents flowing back into the esophagus. On the other hand, if you eat slowly, you will prevent heartburn. Eating slowly and chewing carefully have other benefits as well. They promote satiety, improve digestion and also help with weight loss because slow eaters tend to eat less.
No Meals Too Late
If you have a tendency to have heartburn, you should not eat anything at least 4 hours before going to bed. Many people with nighttime heartburn benefit from raising the headboard slightly.
Avoid irritants: A stomach-friendly diet for heartburn
The most important thing for proper nutrition for heartburn is not to unnecessarily irritate the stomach. What irritates the stomach and what doesn’t differ from person to person. In addition, there are a number of foods and beverages that burden the stomach for a wide variety of reasons and which you should avoid completely or at least temporarily.
- Fatty foods put more strain on the stomach than low-fat foods. Fat slows down gastric emptying into the duodenum. This increases the risk of the stomach filling up excessively and stomach contents entering the esophagus. Hence, low-fat foods are better suited to the heartburn diet.
- Many irritants stimulate the production of stomach acid. These include caffeine, sour, spicy, or sweet foods. Alcohol is particularly irritating to the stomach. If you are sensitive to these or other stimuli, it is better to avoid corresponding foods or stimulants.
- Carbonated drinks promote heartburn because the gaseous carbonic acid rises more easily from the stomach into the esophagus. Therefore, it is advisable to eliminate carbonated beverages from the diet altogether for heartburn.
- Nicotine is not part of the diet, but there is good reason to point it out: Nicotine has a relaxing effect, including on the esophageal sphincter. If heartburn recurs, there is usually no way around quitting smoking.
Acute Heartburn Foods
Acute heartburn often subsides when you drink some lukewarm low-fat milk. Often it also helps to eat a dry piece of white bread slowly with it or as an alternative. Milk and white bread lower the acid concentration in the stomach by diluting the gastric fluid (milk) and binding stomach acid (white bread). At the same time, when swallowed, both foods calm the esophageal lining, which has been attacked by gastric acid.
Food To Prevent Heartburn
Ideally, you should rearrange your diet so that heartburn or reflux disease does not occur in the first place. The Nutrition Docs of the North German Broadcasting Corporation recommend the following foods to prevent heartburn and/or for nutrition in case of heartburn:
- Grains, bread: porridge, wholemeal bread (finely ground), wholegrain rolls, wholegrain crispbread, rusks;
- Side dishes: durum wheat noodles, potatoes, mashed potatoes, whole wheat noodles, whole grain rice
- Fruit (twice a day): low-acid fruits such as apple (Jonagold, Cox, Gala, Gloster, Golden Delicious), apricot, banana, pear, strawberries (fresh), honeydew melon, mango, apricot, papaya, plum, peach, watermelon, grapes
- Vegetables (3 times/day): Eggplant, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, cucumber, legumes such as beans, peas, lentils (preferably pureed), pumpkin, kohlrabi, carrots, salads, tomatoes, beetroot, asparagus, spinach, turnips, Zucchini.
- Fats and oils (approx. 2 tbsp/day): butter, linseed oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, walnut oil
- Fish & seafood: trout, halibut, cod, carp, plaice, sole, turbot; Prawns, crabs
- Meat & sausage products: lean varieties such as corned beef, Kassler, cooked and salmon ham, sliced turkey breast; Chicken, turkey, in moderation: beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, pork loin
- Eggs: low-fat preparations
- Milk & dairy products: Milk 1.5% fat, buttermilk, low-fat quark, natural yogurt 1.5% fat
- Cheese: 30 to 40% fat in dry matter Tr .: feta, cream cheese, sliced cheese, soft cheese; particularly lean: Harz cheese, grainy cream cheese
- Spices: herbs (dried or frozen)
- Snacks: nuts and seeds according to individual tolerance; Typical finished products are usually not recommended because of the fat, sugar, and spice content
- Drinks: still water, unsweetened fruit or herbal teas, preferably lukewarm
These Foods Should Be Avoided If You Have Heartburn
The following foods contain substances that may irritate the stomach and should therefore be avoided in acute heartburn and to prevent heartburn:
- Grain, bread: Lye pastries, very fresh bread, very coarse whole-grain bread, white bread, toast bread
- Side dishes: potato pancakes, potato salad with mayonnaise, croquettes, french fries
- Fruit: Acid-rich fruit such as pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, mandarine, nectarine, orange, grapefruit, sour cherry, lemon; highly sugared canned fruit and fruit purée; according to individual tolerance: berries
- Vegetables according to individual tolerance: avocado, cucumber salad, cabbage vegetables/salads, garlic, leek, horseradish, red cabbage, sauerkraut, peppers, mushrooms, onions
- Fats and oils: fatty broths, sauces, and soups, large amounts of spreadable and cooking fat, mayonnaise
- Fish & seafood: fish in mayonnaise or cream as well as breaded or smoked fish, oily fish such as eel, herring, mackerel
- Meat & sausage products: fat types such as bockwurst, black pudding, bratwurst, meatloaf, meat sausage, liver sausage, Mettwurst, mortadella, salami, bacon, white sausage; breaded and fried meat, pork belly, pork knuckle, neck meat
- Eggs: fat egg dishes
- Milk & milk products: creme fraiche, mascarpone, milk 3.5% fat, natural yogurt 3.5% fat, cream, cream quark, sour cream; Sweetened finished products such as fruit buttermilk, fruit yogurt, fruit quark, cocoa preparations, rice pudding, pudding
- Cheese: from 45 fat i. Generally avoid tr
- Spices: Always use hot spices very carefully
- Snacks: avoid all industrially manufactured snacks with fat, sugar, or spices, including fatty or sweet baked goods
- Nuts and seeds: Avoid salted or flavored nuts and seeds
- Drinks: Alcohol, fruit juices, cocoa, carbonated drinks, very hot or cold drinks in total, depending on individual tolerance: coffee or tea
Medical Help For Heartburn & Reflux Disease
Frequent heartburn should not be taken lightly. Acid belching can be a symptom of many diseases. So speak to your doctor for a specific diagnosis. With the doctor you trust, you can then also advise on the appropriate change in diet.