What is Heartburn?
Frequent heartburn (technically known as "pyrosis," also commonly known as "acid reflux") can occur at any stage in life and be linked to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This is when a muscle at the end of the esophagus doesn't close properly.
What Causes Heartburn?
The causes of heartburn are complex.
Certain hormonal changes, such as those that take place during pregnancy or as the body ages, have been linked to heartburn.
Some sufferers find certain foods may trigger heartburn too. While the link between food and heartburn has yet to be extensively clinically evaluated, some find reducing their intake of acid-forming foods can help alleviate symptoms.
Common acid-forming foods include: salt, chocolate, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, caffeine (apart from Cultured Coffee!) and alcohol.
Is It Heartburn?
The symptoms of heartburn can be confused with gastritis, which is when the lining of the stomach and peripheral systems become inflamed. A serious condition in itself, gastritis can be linked to similar health factors as heartburn but also microbial imbalances of helicobacter pylori.
These microbes are naturally resident in the walls of the stomach lining in about two thirds of the population. If the mucus and walls of the digestive system become weakened or damaged (through poor diet, stress or other health factors) helicobacter pylori can take hold and trigger inflammation in the body tissue. This inflammation, combined with extra irritation during digestion, may lead to severe heartburn-like symptoms.
There are a number of ways to treat heartburn. Some opt for a tailored diet that reduces acid intake or take medication that neutralizes stomach acid.
Since heartburn can also be linked to reduced sphincter pressure, avoiding eating shortly before bedtime can help prevent acid from the digestion process leaking upwards when we lay down.
How Microbes Help with Heartburn?
While an imbalance of natural microbes, as in the case of gastritis, may cause heartburn-like symptoms, they can also play very helpful role in healing our digestive symptoms and making food less likely to trigger heartburn in the first place.
Healing The Digestive System
Ingesting a range of natural microbes can help fortify our body's natural defenses including the lining of the digestive tract, which reduces the symptoms of heartburn and gastritis.
Foods that have been fermented by microbes using anaerobic fermentation, which produces lactic acid as a bi-product, are especially useful in this context. Not only do the microbes help restore a healthy microbial balance but lactic acid helps to control the overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria.
By eating these kinds of food as part of a balanced, healthy diet, we introduce billions of beneficial microbes into the gut and stomach. These microbes are then capable of managing the overgrowth of harmful microbes like helicobacter, thereby reducing inflammation.
Making Food Easier to Digest
By reducing the level of stomach irritants in food and drink, microbes can play a useful role in managing heartburn.
eatCultured, for example, produces the world's first whole bean coffee using natural microbes to alter plant acids (natural biochemical compounds) in coffee beans that can trigger stomach irritation for many coffee drinkers. By fermenting green coffee beans before roasting, microbes convert acids in the beans into a form that's easier to digest, which results in less stomach irritation.