Heartburn is a common ailment, and the conventional treatment is to take antacid tablets to reduce the symptoms. However, heartburn is actually a symptom that indicates poor digestion and the presence of acid reflux. Taking antacid tablets only exacerbates the problem. According to the article Acid Reflux: A Red Flag,
In the standard treatment of acid reflux, most doctors prescribe medicine to lower acid levels in the stomach...Stomach acid is extremely important to good digestion. Under normal circumstances, stomach acid not only helps break down protein into usable components, it also destroys food-borne viruses, pathogenic bacteria and parasites. But with low acid, one of the body’s first lines of defense against harmful microorganisms becomes compromised.
...Under normal circumstances, the stomach acid would have broken proteins into peptides before allowing them to enter the small intestine. But when insufficiently digested protein enters the small intestines, due to inadequate stomach acid, the pancreas in turn does not get the signal to release adequate pancreatic juices. In addition, if the small intestine lacks a healthy flora, production of enzymes called peptidases is also reduced... Their function is to further break down proteins and carbohydrates into usable nutrients. As yeast and other unhealthy flora coming from the stomach take over the small intestine, dysbiosis will develop. This causes the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract to become damaged, leading to “leaky gut syndrome.” Gut permeability allows poorly digested proteins and carbohydrates to “leak” through the intestinal tract.In short, heartburn signals poor digestion, taking antacids will reduce stomach acid, and low stomach acid can eventually lead to a leaky gut. As described in Gut and Psychology Syndrome, a leaky gut can lead to all sorts of problems like allergies, eczema, lupus, and even autism.
Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn is especially common during the second half of pregnancy. Hormones released by the placenta can relax the valve separating the esophagus and stomach, allowing gastric acids to leak back up. Additionally, digestion becomes sluggish due to hormonal changes and in late pregnancy the baby crowds into the abdominal cavity.
I experienced lots of heartburn during both of my pregnancies. I was not inclined to take antacids, as I generally try to avoid taking pharmaceuticals. Luckily, I stumbled upon a great remedy: I ate a lacto-fermented pickle with almost every single meal, and sometimes even between meals. While I got some strange looks from co-workers wondering about my apparent pickle addiction, this really kept the heartburn at bay.
Rather than take antacids for heartburn, try adding fermented foods to your diet. Fermented foods can be consumed before, during, or after a meal to lessen heartburn. Fermented foods help your body to properly digest food, and this reduces heartburn. Over time, consuming fermented foods can also make your gut healthier since fermented foods provide beneficial bacteria.
A Wide Variety of Fermented Foods
There are many different fermented foods to try, including:
- veggie-based fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles
- drinkable ferments like milk kefir, kombucha, and water kefir soda
- fermented condiments like homemade mayonnaise, ketchup, and salsa
Beware that many of the foods sold in stores have been pasteurized, thereby killing off the beneficial bacteria. Certainly, any store-bought fermented foods would be located in the refrigerated section of the store. Nonetheless, make sure to carefully read the product labels as it is not always obvious which items have been pasteurized.
Do you regularly eat fermented foods, and do you notice any difference in your digestion when you do? What is your favorite fermented food?
This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!