Food for Thought: Horrible Heartburn

Some say, “When it rains, it pours,” and when it comes to stress life can seem a bit like a monsoon. With exams just around the bend, family issues, social pressures and workload, stress can seem to pile up and bury the unsuspecting. Stress can affect us in many ways; tension headaches, binge eating, not eating, sleep deprivation and indigestion. These symptoms can be aggravating and distracting, which is especially inconvenient when you have a lot on your plate.

man suffering from heartburnOne of the more annoying aggravations is heartburn, and I was ever so lucky to have a bout of it this month.

Heartburn, despite its name, doesn't really have anything to do with someone's heart. In actuality, heartburn is more associated with the stomach and esophagus. To digest food, the stomach produces acid to help break down the food into a more useful form for your body. Heartburn happens when the valve that connects your esophagus to your stomach isn't working and doesn't completely shut, therefore allowing acid to travel up your esophagus and sometimes into your throat. Your esophagus and throat doesn't have the same protective lining that your stomach does, and the acid burns and damages the tissue, causing a deep burning pain. This damage can become very serious if not treated properly, so it's best to let your doctor know if symptoms continue over a period of time.

Diet can help to remedy the acid produced by the stomach. It's a common myth that milk will help the pain, and it will. However this remedy is temporary, and the fat and protein in the milk will cause greater upset and more acid.

Bland, un-spiced foods are key to avoiding heartburn. Deep fried foods and food high in fat can cause your stomach to produce more acid as it tries to break down the fat as you digest, so it's best to try and avoid these foods when experiencing heartburn. Also, eating small and frequent meals throughout the day instead of a couple of large meals will help. This makes it easier for your body to digest the food you consume and requires less acid and less pressure on your stomach. It's important to make sure you eat your meals at least two hours before you sleep so you give you body time to digest properly.

Having a regular diet routine that consists of healthy foods from all food groups will not only help to prevent heartburn but will also help to reduce the stress by giving you the energy required to deal with all the problems and tasks thrown your way.