Heartburn During Pregnancy - Healing Foods to Relieve Heartburn
Heartburn during pregnancy can be a very distressing problem. Some women have never suffered with heartburn until they get pregnant and all of a sudden any food seems to trigger the problem.
Heartburn during Pregnancy - Why so Common?
The main reason why heartburn and pregnancy often go hand in hand is the increase in the hormone progesterone especially during the first trimester.
Progesterone is essential for successful implantation of the fetus in the uterus and maintenance of the pregnancy but it also has the effect of relaxing the smooth muscle tissue in the body, including the lower esophageal valve or sphincter (LES).
This valve normally keeps the food from coming back up the throat once it reaches the stomach. But if the valve is weak, it can relax and allow the acid reflux to come up very easily.
Progesterone also affects the smooth muscle of the intestine and the whole digestive tract, by slowing down the movements that push food along. So your stomach takes longer to empty and digestion is slowed.
There is a purpose to this slowing down. It gives the nutrients you ingest with food more time to be absorbed into the bloodstream and reach your baby.
Unfortunately, a side effect can be heartburn and constipation.
And as the baby grows, it'll put more pressure on the stomach, which will promote re-entry of stomach fluids into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
For a complete discussion of the causes of heartburn click on the link.
How can the right nutrition help relieve heartburn during pregnancy?
There's a lot you can do to relieve the symptoms of heartburn.
"Modifying the diet remains one of the first lines of treatment for people with heartburn" says Suzanne Rose, MD, professor or medical education and medicine and gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
- One food that can help control heartburn is ginger. Ginger also strengthen the holding power of the LES, which can help keep acid where it belongs.
Try this ginger tea:
If you don't like the spiciness of fresh ginger, make a ginger tea by adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger), or 3 or 4 thin slices of fresh ginger to a cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy.
- Studies have shown that foods high in fat, like butter and red meat, can temporarily reduce the holding power of the LES. During one study it was found that people who ate high-fat meals were exposed to acid about four times as long as those eating leaner fare. If this is the case for people suffering from heartburn in the general population, it's even more so in heartburn during pregnancy.
- Chocolate is another offender for some people. Not only is high in fat, it may also contain other compounds that can relax the LES even more.
- Onions can bring on heartburn in some people. Researchers aren't exactly sure what is in onions that can light up the fire, but for some, heartburn can flare-up after only one slice of onion.
- Coffee, tomatoes, citrus fruits and fried foods can also trigger heartburn during pregnancy.
- Spicy foods can be very irritating for the esophagus causing pain and indigestion.
5 things you can do
to Relieve Heartburn during Pregnancy
- To relieve discomfort, try using natural Digestive Enzymes to be taken with meals and/or between meals, as needed. They're safe and effective for reducing heartburn.
- Even sipping a glass of cold water can often be very effective. It'll dilute the stomach acids and relieve heartburn. But it has to be drunk very slowly!
- If heartburn strikes, try sipping a glass of warm soy milk or rice milk. Avoid cow's milk; although it may appear to reduce acidity temporarily, it tends to worsen the problem.
- Don't eat or drink anything except water for a few hours before going to bed or taking a nap.
- It's a good idea not to lie down after eating. When your stomach is full, it's much easier for acid to rise up into the esophagus, especially when you lie down and gravity is working against you.
For a complete list of healing foods that you can eat to relieve heartburn during pregnancy see the following pages:
Good Foods for Heartburn
Heartburn Remedies and Indigestion Relief
Natural Remedies for Heartburn vs. Antacids
Nutrition during Pregnancy - What to Eat for a Healthy Pregnancy
Anemia in Pregnancy - Healing Foods for the Anemia Diet
Natural Cures for Bladder Infections in Pregnancy - Foods to Avoid and Foods to Eat
Pregnancy Gingivitis - Causes of Bleeding Gums during Pregnancy
Constipation during Pregnancy - Which Foods to Eat
How to Relieve Morning Sickness in Pregnancy
A website on pregnancy that I find extremely useful is Pregnancy Friend by Jo Walker. It's packed full of advice and information, do have a look at it!
Go to Foods' Healing Power Homepage from Heartburn during Pregnancy page.
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