5 foods to end heartburn

The so-called gastric acidity, a very common condition that most who least have suffered at some time in their lives, regularly affects 7.7% of the Western population, according to data from the international Digest study, which refers to reflux disease gastroesophageal (GERD) as one of the main reasons for consultation with both the gastroenterologist and the family doctor. We speak of GERD, a disorder popularly known as heartburn or heartburn, in reference to “the burning sensation at the epigastric level -what we commonly call the pit of the stomach-, which often extends through the esophageal path creating the sensation of reflux and that can reach the pharyngeal region”, explains Dr. Josep Just Timoneda, specialist in Digestology at the CreuBlanca clinic, in Barcelona.

Dr. Just recalls that “up to 40% of the population may have heartburn at some point in any of its forms” and points out that “there are no differences between the sexes, although it should be noted that there is a high incidence in pregnant women.” In fact, more than 50% of pregnant women present these symptoms, especially in the final stages of pregnancy, due to the increase in progesterone, a hormone that relaxes the muscles of the esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to return to the pharynx.

There are no differences between the sexes, although it should be noted that there is a high incidence in pregnant women



Josep Just TimonedaSpecialist in Digestology at the CreuBlanca clinic

Although heartburn is a relatively common disorder, the doctor advises against self-medication without prior diagnosis in all cases. “Although there are occasional and low-intensity symptoms that we can try to solve with basic and known measures or medications, all without exposing ourselves to any risk, in general we should not resort to taking medications intuitively or recommended by others without prior knowledge. of what is happening to us, that is, without a diagnosis supervised by a doctor. We could be acting not only in an inappropriate way in the face of our problem, but we could also generate adverse effects, sometimes serious”, explains the doctor.

“Mild, transient or occasional heartburn is usually treated with simple antacids and elementary dietary care, but sustained, intense heartburn that alters our lives requires a complete treatment plan that includes pharmacological measures (usually taking proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, pantoprazole, lasoprazole, rabeprazole and other drugs), changes in dietary and life habits and abandonment of toxic habits, always after an in-depth etiological study with analysis and diagnostic tests”, continues the CreuBlanca specialist.

heartburn pills

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In this sense, it should be remembered that according to a large study published in the journal Cancer, GERD is associated with an increased risk (up to twofold) of laryngeal and esophageal cancer. For this reason, the research reminds that people with gastroesophageal reflux should undergo regular check-ups.

In fact, heartburn or heartburn can be due to various causes, so it is convenient to know the origin to establish an adequate treatment and diet. According to Dr. Just, “in the stomach there must be a balance between defensive factors, such as gastric mucus and the integrity of the mucosal barrier, and aggressive factors such as some medications, tobacco or alcohol. Only if this balance exists, the hydrochloric acid that the stomach secretes under normal circumstances to start the digestion mechanisms, essentially of proteins, will not become an element that can cause symptoms such as heartburn or burning.

Sustained and intense heartburn is related to an increased risk of cancer of the larynx and esophagus

Among the factors that can lead to heartburn, the doctor highlights the intake of drugs that are potentially harmful to the gastric mucosa, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). “Tobacco, alcohol, stress, copious meals and poor diet, caffeine and other alterations such as metabolic disorders, tumor factors or chronic diseases can lead to this reflux into the esophagus,” explains Dr. Just.

As for diet, it urges you to avoid fried and high-fat foods, ultra-processed foods, chocolate, spicy foods and excessively acidic foods, such as citrus fruits or tomatoes, among others. Despite the fact that for a long time it has been believed that the consumption of dairy products could combat the sensation of heartburn, Dr. Just recalls that “they are not advisable against acid-peptic pathology, due to their protein composition that stimulates acid secretion ”. On the contrary, among the recommended foods to combat the symptoms of GERD we find the following:

Raw zucchini slices on wooden board

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Zucchini

Both zucchini and celery, broccoli, green beans, pumpkin or potato are, according to Dr. Just, easily digestible, in addition to having numerous nutritional properties. In the case of zucchini, its carbohydrate, fiber and water content stands out, as well as vitamins A, C and B9 and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. It is also low in calories, fat and sodium.

According to research published in the JAMA Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, conducted by researchers at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Medical Research Institute and the New York Medical College, a plant-based diet provides the same benefits as medication for the treatment of laryngopharyngeal reflux. The work also indicates that to prevent this disorder, it is advisable to promote the consumption of fruits, vegetables and vegetables while almost completely restricting that of dairy products, meat (also including white meats, such as chicken), fish and eggs.

almonds

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Almond

Nuts, rich in heart-healthy fats and fundamental axes of the Mediterranean diet, are also good allies to combat the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Doctor Just recommends consuming almonds, an interesting dry fruit for its contribution of calcium and fiber and for its satiating power. The expert nutritionist in healthy habits Natàlia Calvet explains it: “Despite how small they are, nuts are very filling. In addition, they are rich in protein and heart-healthy fats, which makes them the perfect foods when we need a shot of energy. Being satiating, taking almonds as a snack allows you to arrive less hungry at the next meal, which also makes meals less copious and, therefore, relieves acidity, since digestion is easier. Being sources of fiber, they also improve intestinal transit and, therefore, the heaviness that can sometimes be associated with reflux.

turmeric and ginger

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Ginger

According to research conducted by scientists at the Mysore Food Technological Research Institute, ginger may be more effective in treating heartburn than some stomach protectors. The nutritionist Fátima Branco recommends incorporating it daily into the diet in the form of an infusion if you suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort, be it heartburn or any other ailment associated with the digestive system. “Ginger is also a good diuretic, so it will help us feel less bloated. It can be taken in infusions with lemon, orange, mango, etc.”, explains the nutritionist. For his part, Dr. Just also recommends the consumption of other infusions “such as chamomile, pennyroyal, mint, rosemary, basil, ginger or lemon verbena, as well as some relaxing infusions such as linden, valerian or passionflower that will help in cases of heartburn. secondary to stress.

Plantain

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Plantain

Among the recommended fruits to combat acidity we find, according to Dr. Just, “banana, apple, watermelon, pear, persimmon, pineapple, melon, peach, fig or papaya”. In the case of the banana, it also has a high content of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber, in addition to carbohydrates. Potassium is an alkaline mineral, also present in foods such as beets, broccoli or Brussels sprouts, which helps balance gastric pH, in addition to helping to protect the lining of the stomach.

Glass of water

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Water

“Although it is not exclusive and determining, correct hydration is important to take care of our stomach. A sustained lack of hydration weakens the defensive composition of our gastric mucus barrier, leaving the stomach more exposed to the aggression of acid”, explains Dr. Just. Thus, without being a decisive factor in heartburn, drinking water can increase gastric pH and reduce symptoms at a given time.

In addition, the consumption of water can displace that of other beverages with proven harmful effects, including “sugary carbonated soft drinks, drinks labeled as stimulants, caffeine, very acidic drinks and especially alcoholic ones,” says Dr. Just, and remember that “particularly sensitive patients should avoid excessively hot or cold drinks, which can act as irritants to the gastric mucosa.”


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