Acid reflux is always uncomfortable, sometimes disgusting, and sometimes makes your mouth taste funny for an hour. But what is acid reflux? Why do you get it and how on Earth do you stop it?
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux is when some of your stomach acid sneaks back up your esophagus. This results in a burning sensation in the lower chest or a distinct uncomfortable feeling at the top of your throat and mouth.
The reason acid reflux is uncomfortable is because the hydrochloric acid is contained within the stomach. This helps efficiently digest food, but can also help kill bad bacteria and other harmful microbes. The stomach lining is specially designed to be able to handle this acid. But your throat is not. That’s why the burning happens – because hydrochloric acid is literally eating away at the lining of your esophagus.
Why Do You Get It?
The reason we don’t have acid reflux all the time is because there is a muscle that keeps the esophagus closed off from the stomach. That’s why a lot of heartburn starts when you belch, because some acid comes up with the air trapped inside the stomach. (Also, it just happens sometimes during pregnancy, sorry ladies.)
- Dry, persistent cough
- Asthma and recurrent pneumonia
- Throat problems – soreness, hoarseness, or laryngitis
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Chest or upper abdominal pain
- Dental erosion
- Bad Breath
To Stop It.
Okay, before you really worry, everyone gets acid reflux from time to time (see my note above about belching). And once in a while doesn’t really cause any problems. But there are three combinations that can actually make acid reflux much worse.
Before I write this list, if you get acid reflux more than twice a week, go see a doctor – this is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or GORD for short).
Carbs and Protein
Steak and potatoes. Rice and chicken. Bread and pork. What do all these have in common? They are all starch and protein combinations. Despite this being the most common pairing in the food world, it’s not actually all that great for you. Why?
Starch breaks down quickly. Your body uses it immediately or stores it away for use later (as fat). Protein takes a while for your body to break down, and is good for building muscle. But when you eat the two things together, it can cause the starches to stay in your stomach longer – which can make them ferment. This releases gas. Which then needs to work it’s way out, you belch, and the acid rises up with it.
To keep this favoured combination – the best way is to eat starch, wait a bit, then start on protein.
This one surprised me. Cold water causes your blood vessels in your stomach to constrict, slowing down the digestive process. Once again, leaving starches in your stomach for longer than they should be there – they ferment and we’re back to acid reflux.
Instead try tea or room temperature water. Drink your cold water after the meal.
Soda with meals…
Or bubbly water or beer. Anything with bubbles is the enemy while you’re eating. First, it takes up extra room in your stomach, meaning less desire to finish your meal (most important really). But carbonation actually interacts badly with the acid in your stomach causing even more gas to build up than just an ordinary bubbly would. And the same thing happens again.
Now, if you’re still having problems with acid even following these tips, you should that first, there is always going to be a bit of acid reflux, sometimes the muscle that separates your stomach from your throat just relaxes and stomach acid comes back up. Second, that you can take natural cures that will ease your acid reflux without eliminating some of the acid in your stomach (like PPIs do).
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