There are some things in this world, good and bad, that a person needs to experience in order to truly appreciate or understand. For example, a person will never truly understand what it is like to be in love until they find themselves falling head over heels for another. By that same token, a person will not fully comprehend what heartache feels like until they lose that person. A person will never understand the thrill of driving fast, racing down the street and taking hairpin until they have found themselves in the driver seat, or at least the passenger seat.
And again, by that same merit, a person will never understand what it is like to get in a serious car accident, watching their life flash before their eyes, uncertain as to what is going to happen next. Yes, an experience is certainly one of the greatest learning tools that we as a species have, however, there are some experiences that we think people are simply better off without, and heartburn is one of those experiences.
Heartburn is one of those things that people don’t think about unless they have it, and even if they do, there is a good chance that they don’t fully understand what is happening in their bodies. So what exactly is heartburn?
The term heartburn, along with acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is often terms that are used interchangeably, however, the reality is they are different things, however, are pieces to the same puzzle. Acid reflux is a relatively common medical condition that occurs when the stomach acid begins to flow back up into the esophagus. GERD is a what we call chronic acid reflux. And where does heartburn fit in? Well, heartburn can be a symptom of these two things, rather than a condition in and of itself as many people believe. And interestingly enough, the confusion doesn’t end there.
The term ‘heartburn’ can be a misleading one, as the heart actually has nothing to do with the pain a person experiences. However, given our anatomy, all too often people who experience heartburn will feel mild to severe pain in their chest; a pain that in some cases can be so severe that people mistake it for a heart attack.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, there are at least 15 million Americans who experience this unpleasant symptom of acid reflux, however, a burning sensation and chest pain aren’t the only symptoms, for it is common for sufferers to report difficulty swallowing, a feeling of food being “stuck” in their throat or chest, chronic cough, sore throat, and hoarse voice.
So what causes acid reflux and in turn, heartburn?
Acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn can all happen to people of any age and while some attributing factors like anatomical abnormalities are out of our control, others, like lifestyle, are certainly within our realm of influence. And one of the biggest lifestyle contributors to experiencing heartburn is the food we eat.
Like most things in this world, not everything is created equal, and this goes for the food we eat. And while most of us properly have a good idea of what foods are healthy and what foods are not, if you suffer from heartburn, then it may be prudent to understand the foods that could trigger its onset. So with that sentiment in the forefront, allow us to present to you some of the most common trigger foods to avoid if you suffer from heartburn.
To this day it still shocks us that people don’t put together the connection between nuts and peanut butter, but until they do, we feel it is prudent to mention both.
Peanuts are among the highest-in-fat nuts around, which means that by eating it, you are putting your body, more specifically, your lower esophageal sphincter at risk of relaxing and allowing stomach acid to creep up the esophagus. And when looking at the packaging, it may not seem like peanut butter is all that bad, but let's do some math:
2 tbs of peanut butter is roughly 3.3 grams of saturated fat. Now compare that to the same serving of almond butter, and you have only 1.4 grams. Still doesn’t seem like a big difference? Well, add that up to a full weeks worth and you will find that you are consuming an extra 13.3 grams of saturated fat each week. This may explain why your ‘harmless’ PB&J sandwich for lunch is causing you such discomfort every afternoon.