Top 4 Reasons for Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, and the heartburn that accompanies it, is a very uncomfortable condition which tens of millions of people around the world suffer from each day. In this article, you will find out what the top 4 reasons for heartburn are so you can avoid these in the future.
While we know that we get acid reflux when stomach acid leaves the stomach and enters the oesophagus, and this occurs when the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (the band of smooth muscle which usually seals the junction between the stomach and oesophagus) is not functioning correctly.
The real question is – what causes this malfunction in the first place? What are the real underlying reasons for acid reflux?
Reason for Heartburn #1 – Obesity
The primary reason for the number of heartburn and GERD cases exploding in the last 20 years is due to the growth in obesity. Out of all the lifestyle factors linked to heartburn, obesity has by far and away from the most vital link between acid reflux and heartburn.
Obesity causes more than just heart problems as it is one of the significant heartburn causes. If you are overweight and you are getting acid reflux, that might be your body’s way of telling you it is time to lose weight.
Reason for Heartburn #2 – Diet
I do not think it comes to a surprise to anyone that the foods you eat may be triggering heartburn. However, you may be surprised to know that the perfect acid reflux diet is not just based on eating the “good” foods and avoiding the “bad” foods.
Everyone responds to foods differently, so a list of foods that are “safe” or “bad” will not be applicable across the board. There are huge variations between individual people. Some people get heartburn when eating fatty food, while others get heartburn from sugary foods. Some people can handle spicy food and cannot have dairy, whereas others are the exact opposite.
Perhaps the most significant way of diet leads to acid reflux is in the amount of food you eat. Most people do not respond favourably to being full. Overeating causes the stomach to expand, which increases the pressure inside of it, which leads to more pressure against the Lower Esophageal Sphincter as food tries to push its way out the top of the stomach and cause acid reflux.
On the plus side, adding in certain nutrients may reduce heartburn. Using supplements like fish oil, besides, to make sure your salt is iodized may improve acid reflux over time. As mentioned in our article on heartburn every morning, a high protein meal can also help reduce acid reflux.
Reason for Heartburn #3 – Smoking, Alcohol, and Caffeine
These three substances are the vice of many (I love coffee – I am drinking a cup as I write this!) but all three of them can lead to heartburn. There are some ways we can manage our vices and still reduce acid reflux.
Having a drink or two with dinner on Friday nights is not likely to give you heartburn that night, let alone all week. Alcohol becomes more of a contributor to acid reflux when drinking is regularly (a few drinks every day), excessive (an 8+ drink binge) or both.
Smoking will likely always be a problem and causes heartburn on two fronts: through nicotine (which is thought to stimulate acid production) and through cigarette smoke, which triggers inflammation.
Understand that nicotine is not a healthy substance, and if you are a smoker, you should look to quit immediately. However, if you have no intentions of quitting smoking, consider picking up an electronic cigarette. You can get these online, and they are reasonably inexpensive. While you will still get the side effects of nicotine, the lack of cigarette smoke will cut down on inflammation in the body and may help reduce heartburn related to smoking.
If I drink coffee on an empty stomach, I get acid reflux. However, I cannot give up on coffee so easily. I have found that adding in a positive factor, in this case, a protein shake (protein tightens the LES), I can drink coffee with no issues. This may be something you want to try if you are not ready to give up on coffee.
Reason for Heartburn #4 – Medication, Illness, or Injury
While these may not seem related, these are three of the top causes of heartburn that appears “out of the blue”. It is not uncommon, for example, to get acid reflux as a side effect from the medication. Alternatively, some people experience reflux after getting sick, particularly with a stomach virus, food poisoning, or the flu. A third option would be to have some internal injury such as a hiatal hernia, which increases your chance of getting reflux significantly.
If you have no history of heartburn then all of a sudden you start getting very regular heartburn, you need to see a doctor and mention this immediately. Make a note of any medications you may have started recently, including over the counter medications and even supplements.
Reasons for Heartburn Conclusion
There are a lot of reasons why people get acid reflux, but this top 4 list covers the usual suspects. You can reduce heartburn significantly just by losing weight (should you be overweight), getting your diet and vices under control, and paying attention to any sudden changes in your health. See a doctor if you get acid reflux two times per week or more.
- Heartburn Tips – Top 7 Natural Tips for Beating Acid Reflux
- Chronic Heartburn
- What is Acid Reflux?
- Heartburn and Gas Are Common Symptoms of Acid Reflux and Ulcers
- Heartburn Hangover – Why Alcohol Causes Heartburn