6 Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux

heartburnIf you’ve experienced heartburn or acid reflux, you know how painful it can be. That burning sensation in your chest, just under your breastbone. Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart but is caused by food, liquid and stomach acids backing up into your esophagus causing that burning sensation.

There are many contributing factors to heartburn including:

  • The types of foods you eat and drink.
  • The types, styles and tightness of the clothing you wear.
  • Your sleep position.
  • Your use of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

Here are the six most common contributors to heartburn:

  1. Caffeine – Caffeine or any beverage containing caffeine, including coffee, tea and soda can cause this. Caffeine relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter or LES that separates your stomach from your esophagus. If relaxed, it allows food, drink or stomach acid to move back up the esophagus. Fruit juices and tomato juice are highly acidic and promote heartburn. These acids also relax the LES allowing your stomach acid to travel up into the esophagus.
  1. Greasy Foods – Greasy foods are slow to digest, causing them to stay in your stomach longer and placing upward pressure on the LES. Overeating combined with greasy foods can easily cause discomfort and may result in long-term damage to both your stomach lining and your esophagus.
  1. Alcohol and Tobacco – Both tobacco and alcohol contain chemicals that relax the LES allowing acid reflux. Alcohol can irritate the lining of the digestive tract adding to the problem.
  1. Restrictive Clothing – Clothing that is too tight around the waist and stomach squeeze your midsection and press on the stomach and LES. This unnatural pressure opens the sphincter and when combined with pressure on the stomach forces acid to move upward.
  1. Pregnancy – Pregnancy is a very common cause of this, brought on by hormonal changes and the pressure of the baby on the stomach and sphincter. To lessen the effects of heartburn during pregnancy, avoid spicy foods and don’t recline immediately after eating as both promote indigestion and heartburn.
  1. Sleep Position – If you notice your heartburn increasing in intensity during the night, it may be caused by your sleep position. As you lay flat in bed, the LES relaxes and opens slightly and allows stomach contents and acids to move upward. Tilting your body or the head of the bed upward will often prevent this problem.

There are a number of natural treatment options for heartburn that you should explore as antacids provide only temporary relief. To learn more about a Natural, Holistic solution to heartburn and acid reflux click here. 

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