Heartburn: How do we put out the flames?
I usually write this column in the morning after a good night's sleep. However, last night I woke up with horrible heartburn after eating a big meal late and then going to sleep on a full stomach. So much for good sleep.
The original premise behind writing this column was and continues to be about connecting the dots of cause and effect and how we feel as a result of what we put into our one precious body.
We make decisions daily about the amount and types of foods that we eat, which contribute to our overall health. Here it is, 3 a.m., and I am wide awake thanks to a poor meal choice. My stomach is crying uncle. What happened?
Over the years, I have figured out what causes my heartburn. And according to tums.com, it turns out that approximately 94 percent of heartburn in North America is caused by the same thing that affects me: food!
I ate a lot last night because I didn't take time to eat smaller meals throughout the day, which left me craving a big meal at the end of the day. In that meal, I also ate foods that I know will cause me grief.
For me, refried beans and corn are no bueno. How do I know this? Over time, I slowly started to eliminate certain foods from my diet to figure out why I was getting heartburn. I detest having to take a drug to treat a symptom that I'm having (i.e., heartburn) because of a poor eating choice I made. I know better than to eat late. I know that corn, beans and gluten are not processed well in my gut.
We are blessed in this country with a variety of foods to choose from every day — but are we supposed to eat everything on the menu for optimum health? The fact that 25 million people suffer from heartburn on a daily basis clearly answers this question: no!
Why is heartburn so common? We can thank the standard American diet (which I refer to as SAD), a diet high in fried fatty foods, spicy foods, carbonated and caffeinated beverages. Other heartburn triggers listed at heartburn.com include acidic foods, like tomatoes, citrus fruit and juices; tobacco; and alcohol.
I have said this before: We wouldn't think of putting diesel fuel in our car that runs on gas, would we? If we did, our car would not run — or if it ran, it wouldn't run very well. Which makes me wonder — do we have a one-size-fits-all-types-of-food stomach/gut? Can we just go by taste, or should we be looking at how certain foods make us feel?
When we get heartburn, I would suggest that our bodies are speaking up and complaining to us: "I don't like how you are feeding me!" Is our best response to take something that mutes our body's natural reaction to what we ate? If we ignore what our body is saying, could it ultimately cause longer-term health issues? Or should we be listening better to what our body is trying to tell us?
Take time to listen your body. We need our bodies to perform well to support ourselves, our family and our community.
Take good care of yourself!
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.