Heartburn Remedies and
Indigestion Relief

Adopting natural heartburn remedies is the best option to avoid digestive problems long term. In fact, the best way to sort out your digestion is to take a good look at your diet and see what changes you can make.



So, apart from avoiding certain foods that seem to promote heartburn and indigestion, you can also adopt new strategies that can actually improve your digestion.

Here are a few suggestions on heartburn remedies that can make a huge difference to your life:

Eat Raw Foods

raw foods are rich in live enzymes

Among the best heartburn remedies are raw food, because they contain significant amounts of enzymes.

Professor Artturi Virtanen, Helsinki biochemist and Nobel prize winner, showed that enzymes in uncooked foods are released in the mouth when vegetables are chewed.

When these foods are crushed, the enzymes come into contact with the food and start digestion.

These food enzymes are not denatured by stomach acid, as some researchers have suggested, but in fact remain active throughout the digestive tract.

Extensive tests by Kaspar Tropp in Wurzburg have shown that the human body has a way of protecting enzymes that pass through the gut so that half reach the colon intact.

There they alter the intestinal flora by binding free oxygen, reducing the chances of fermentation and putrefaction in the intestines (a factor linked to cancer of the colon). In so doing they also help to create conditions in which lactic-acid-forming beneficial bacteria can grow.

Be careful, though. If you're not used to eating raw foods, you might want to give your guts a chance to get used to it. So start gradually and increase over the course of a few weeks. If you don't, you might experience more gas and discomfort as the body is not used to handle all that fibre.

It is true that some foods contain enzyme blockers. For example, lentils, beans and chickpeas contain trypsin-inhibitors (preventing protein from complete digestion), which is why they can produce a lot of gas. However this anti-enzyme factor is destroyed by sprouting or cooking them.

Whereas I can't imagine anyone wanting to eat beans and lentils raw, fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are a different matter.

They're packed full of these wonderful enzymes, which are very sensitive to heat. Even low to moderate heat (118°F or above/48°C ) destroys most enzymes in food, so they must be eaten raw. But make sure you chew them properly, as that helps to liberate and activate the enzymes they contain.

Where to Find Digestive Enzymes

Enzymes can be found in many different foods, from both plant and animal sources.

Avocados, papayas, pineapples, banana and mangoes are all high in enzymes. The enzymes extracted from papaya and pineapple - papain and bromelain, respectively - are proteolytic enzymes, which break down proteins.

Other foods rich in enzymes are : apples, cabbage, corn, egg (raw), grapes, honey (raw), kidney beans, milk (raw), mushrooms, rice, soya bean, sweet potatoes and wheat.

Supplementing Digestive Enzymes

The first action to take if you suffer with heartburn and indigestion is to supplement digestive enzymes, the main three being amylase, protease and lipase.

Digestive enzymes come in many different forms, ranging from natural compounds (rich in one or the other enzyme) to combination of amylase, protease and lipase.

Here are the common ingredients you might find in a digestive enzyme supplement:

Enzymes Digests Fat Digests Protein Digests Carbohydrate
Papain (from papaya)
Bromelain (from pineapple)
Pancreatin (extract of pancreas)
Ox bile extract
Amylase
Protease
Lipase

Some digestive enzymes also contain lactase, which is the enzyme for digesting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.

Other contain an additional enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. This enzyme helps to digest some of the naturally indigestible compounds found in certain vegetables and beans, hence preventing wind.

Another key ingredient is betaine hydrochloride, which is stomach acid. Both over-production and under-production of stomach acid can be responsible for heartburn and indigestion.

Try this simple test to see whether you suffer with over- or under-acidity:

Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. If it makes your indigestion go away, then you need more stomach acid. If it makes the symptoms worse, then you have too much acid and you should take care not to take any supplements that contain HCl (or hydrochloric acid).

Or you could try a supplement providing 500 mg of betaine hydrochloride and 100 mg of pepsin with each meal for a month (make sure that you don't have an ulcer - betaine can make it worse!).

Some supplements also contain amylo-glucosidase, which helps digest glucosides found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, also reducing wind.

So to decide which digestive enzyme you need depends very much on which foods cause your problems.

If you're vegetarian it's best to chose a digestive enzyme supplement that provides amylase, protease and lipase. If you're not, pancreatin is a safe bet.

There's no harm in taking digestive enzymes on an ongoing basis. In fact, correcting digestive enzyme levels with supplements can pave the way for increasing body levels of nutrients.

Once this is achieved, digestion often improves of its own accord and then digestive enzyme supplements may no longer be necessary.

So you can start with taking a digestive enzyme supplement with each meal for a month, then stopping. If lack of enzymes is a problem, you should start to feel relief in the first few days.

Drink Plenty of Water

One of the oldest heartburn remedies is still very much applicable: when you feel the symptoms of heartburn, sip some water slowly, it'll dilute the stomach acid and give you relief.

But drinking more water generally seems to be very effective in preventing heartburn in the first place.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera is one of the best heartburn remedies and other gastrointestinal problems. It aids digestion and helps healing the intestinal tract. Take 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera juice on an empty stomach in the morning and again at bedtime.

Other juices that seem to help reduce heartburn:

  • Raw potato juice - Don't peel the potato, just wash it and put it in the juicer. Mix the juice with an equal amount of water. Drink immediately after preparation, three times a day.
  • Cabbage juice - It's one of the long-standing heartburn remedies. It's high glutamine content is probably the key to its success. Cabbage juice has a strong flavour, so dilute with other vegetable juices.

Acidophilus

Acidophilus can be useful for indigestion because a shortage of the "friendly" bacteria is often the cause.

Do Not Overeat

Overeating is going to strain your body's ability to digest even under the best of circumstances. Grazing rather than gorging - eating little and often - is a great help to digestion and one of the best heartburn remedies.

Chew Your Food Well

The enzyme amylase which starts the digestion of carbohydrates is found in saliva. No matter how many heartburn remedies you take, if you don't chew your food well, your digestion will never be good.

So it's extremely important to chew your food thoroughly and mix it with saliva to help digestion. Also chewing signals the rest of the digestive system to prepare to break down the food for absorption.

Try Food Combining

Food combinations can be an adjunct to other heartburn remedies and are especially important if you have digestive problems.

Proteins and starches are a poor combination, as are vegetables and fruits.

Milk should not be consumed with meals.

Foods containing sugar, such as fruit, should not be consumed with proteins or starches.

Lie on Your Left Side

Another good suggestion among the heartburn remedies is to lie on your left side rather than on your right side. This is because the oesophagus enters the stomach from the right. So when you lie on your right side, the oesophagus is below the stomach opening, making it easier for the acid to flow downwards and into the oesophagus.

Research shows that people are less likely to have heartburn attacks when they lie on their left sides.

Also, don't lie down for at least three hours after eating. When you stand, gravity helps prevent reflux, but you lose that advantage by lying down. Sleeping with your head elevated also helps avoid heartburn.

Exercise

Maintain an exercise program that includes walking, biking or low-impact aerobics. Avoid running and weight lifting as these activities put pressure on the stomach. However, don't exercise after eating.

Please Note:

The early symptoms of angina and heart attack sometimes mimic those of heartburn. If symptoms persist, if the pain begins to travel down into your left arm, or if the sensation is accompanied by a feeling of weakness, dizziness or shortness of breath, seek emergency medical help at once.


It's very unlikely that trying just one of the suggestions mentioned here would do you much good. Rather, put into practice as many as these heartburn remedies as you can. A combined strategy is your best defense.

Also, have a look at the next pages to see which foods are likely to cause problems and which ones can help in the healing process.

RELATED PAGES:

Natural Remedies for Heartburn vs. Antacids

Good Foods for Heartburn

Foods That Cause Heartburn

Indigestion Causes and Symptoms

Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux


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Articles in This Series:



Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Indigestion Causes and Symptoms

Natural Remedies for Heartburn

Heartburn Remedies and Indigestion Relief

Foods That Cause Heartburn

Good Foods for Heartburn

Heartburn During Pregnancy - Healing Foods to Relieve Heartburn




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