A burning sensation in the esophagus caused by acid reflux from the stomach. Reflux affects about 30% of the Hungarian population. It occurs periodically, and if the symptoms are not too severe, in most cases we can help with proper eating habits.
The stomach produces acid to digest food, and if its amount increases, it causes an unpleasant burning sensation, which can also damage the mucous membrane of the esophagus in the long term. One common digestive problem, acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t work properly, causing acidic stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus. If reflux is only a periodic phenomenon, the mucous membrane of the esophagus can regenerate after the acid effect and burning sensation cease.
What could be the reasons?
Some dietitians distinguish 4 main causes: mechanical, chemical, nervous and nutritional.
Mechanical causes include hiatus hernia (a part of the stomach passing through the diaphragm). Excessive abdominal pressure can be associated with being overweight, constipated, overeating, or having a poor (e.g., hunched over) posture. The chemical causes include the so-called drugs containing anticholinergic substances (certain antidepressants, anxiolytics, antihistamines, etc.), pesticide residues, and tobacco and alcohol, which contribute to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter.
A nervous cause can be physical and/or psychological stress. Finally, certain foods slow gastric emptying and/or promote relaxation of the esophageal sphincter.
Good nutritional advice
WHAT TO AVOID
Inadequate quantity and quality of food/eating habits that slow down gastric emptying:
– foods fried/cooked in a lot of fat and/or oil
– dishes that are too hearty
– improperly chewed food
– drinking large amounts of liquid during meals
Foods that promote relaxation of the esophageal sphincter:
– Coffee, cola and energy drinks because of the caffeine
– Chocolate because of the active ingredient theobromine (especially avoid: coffee with a piece of chocolate at the end of a meal!)
– Certain plant protection product residues, so-called anticholinergic substances in certain fruits and vegetables
Foods that irritate the mucous membrane of the esophagus:
– acidic foods: vinegar, lemon, orange, pomelo, tomato, rhubarb…
– crunchy foods: crusty bread, toast, puffed cereals, certain raw vegetables
– spicy spices
– raw onion, garlic
They are saturated with carbon dioxide, which puts pressure on the stomach and helps relax the esophageal sphincter.
However, some carbonated mineral waters contain bicarbonate, which helps reduce acidity and soothe the stomach. (It is advisable to stir the drink with a spoon to remove gas bubbles.)
You should not go to bed immediately after the evening meal. Ideally, you should finish your meal at least 2 hours before going to bed. It is advisable to go for a walk after dinner, to take a “digestive” walk. As for the bed, if necessary, raise the head part of the bed slightly at night.
WHICH IT IS ADVISABLE TO PREFER
Stomach-friendly and soothing foods
– Fruits and vegetables al dente
Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which helps with constipation, and their antioxidants protect the mucous membrane. We do well to cook or steam them just a little to make them softer and easier to digest. But let’s forget the juices made from them, because the fiber content and the filling effect are lost in them. Vegetables and fruits that are acidic at the end of the meal should also be avoided, as they slow down digestion.
– Vegetable oils without frying or cooking, raw
Vegetable oils are easier to digest than animal fats. Many of them contain omega 3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect and protect the mucous membrane. Such e.g. rapeseed oil, walnut oil, linseed oil, camelina oil, hemp oil, etc. It is preferable to use them without cooking so that they remain digestible and retain their beneficial effects. For example, flavor steamed vegetables with a few drops of vegetable oil.
– Lean proteins: poultry, fish, eggs, tofu…
They are relatively easy to digest and promote a feeling of satiety. It is advisable to eat them at the beginning of a meal, because they contribute to the production of stomach acid, which stimulates the closure of the esophageal sphincter.
– Gluten-free starchy foods
Rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, coral lentils, sweet potatoes… provide fiber and energy. Their use is preferable to that of wheat, even though wheat products are part of our daily diet (bread, pasta, pastries…) and are poorly tolerated in excessive amounts.
– Dairy products for a snack
Yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese… do not irritate the stomach lining, and when consumed between meals, reduce high stomach acid production. But in the case of milk, you have to be careful about lactose sensitivity. Poorly digested milk causes intestinal gas, which favors reflux due to its distending effect on the stomach.
– Fresh and organic ingredients
This is the best way to avoid pesticide residues and additives. If we can even buy goods from local producers, it is an excellent solution, also because of the higher vitamin and antioxidant content of the products.
Source: Patika Magazin Online by www.patikamagazin.hu.
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