Supplements to Support Occasional Heartburn‡
What You’ll Learn: Learn about the causes of occasional heartburn and which lifestyle factors and supplements play a role in helping manage occasional heartburn. ‡
Did you know that more than 60 million Americans experience occasional heartburn symptoms each day?1 Acid reflux, or heartburn, is a common problem inflicting Americans today. It occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or throat, and often occurs during or after a meal.‡
In this blog, we will discuss what causes occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux, share some supporting supplements and talk about holistic lifestyle approaches you can implement to help manage your symptoms.
What Causes Occasional Heartburn
You know that uncomfortable feeling after eating a meal when you feel regurgitation bubbling up in your chest and then that radiating burn starts to seep through, causing discomfort? While occasional heartburn isn’t always a cause of concern, common lifestyle factors may contribute to it.
Lifestyle Causes of Heartburn
Lifestyle and daily habits play a role in our overall health. Lack of exercise, increased sedimentary lifestyle leading to being overweight, and even dietary habits high in fatty, acidic and spicy foods may be intolerable to the delicate esophageal lining, contributing to the discomfort of occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux. While it’s easy to overlook the day-to-day habits that may negatively impact our health, let’s discuss some lifestyle factors contributing to these symptoms. Factors such as being overweight, consuming a diet high in fatty, acidic and spicy foods, and even alcohol or tobacco use have all been shown to be contributors. 2‡
Physiological Causes of Occasional Heartburn
Other factors may contribute to unwanted occasional heartburn symptoms. For example, a weakened or loose lower esophageal sphincter (LES) may contribute to acid reflux.‡ The lower esophageal sphincter is a muscle ring connecting the esophagus to the stomach. The role of the LES is to open to allow food and drink to pass into the stomach from the mouth, then close to keep those contents in the stomach to allow for digestion.3 Physiological factors such as the denaturing of muscle tone to the lower esophageal sphincter, reduced lower esophageal sphincter pressure, hiatal hernias, impaired esophageal clearance and delayed gastric emptying may all be potential causes of occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux.4 These physiological factors may be indicative of a more serious issue. Please consult your health care professional.
Holistic Approaches to Managing Occasional Heartburn
When it comes to dealing with these symptoms, there’s an abundance of possibilities available to us nowadays. Heck, you go to the pharmacy section of any grocery store and there’s a whole aisle dedicated to over-the-counter medications such as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to help manage heartburn symptoms or any other indigestion issues. Often, those PPIs work by limiting stomach acid.
Certain medications, such as PPIs, may be appropriate and should be used under the recommendation of your healthcare professional for managing chronic, long-term, and/or more serious cases of acid reflux and heartburn. Dietary supplements are not intended to replace the use of such medications.
However, if looking for a way to potentially manage occasional and/or minor heartburn, the following supplement recommendations may be appropriate for you, along with other dietary and lifestyle changes.
Supplements to Help with Occasional Heartburn‡
Did you know some functional foods possess soothing properties and help alleviate irritation, all while protecting the lining of the esophagus from stomach acid? Take marshmallow root and slippery elm, for example, which contain a fiber called mucilage. Mucilage has an interesting characteristic where it can form a gel-like coating on the esophageal lining.8
Another helpful nutrient is gamma-Oryzanol, which has a history of use for supporting the health of the stomach lining. Its mechanism has yet to be clarified but may involve the autonomic nervous system, which regulates gastric secretory activity.9
Pure Encapsulations® Heartburn Essentials* contains 125 mg of Gamma-Oryzanol, 100 mg marshmallow and 100 mg slippery elm to help soothe the digestive tract.‡
Stomach Acid and Reflux
We can’t talk about occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux without honorably mentioning betaine hydrochloride (HCl), which increases stomach acid. While the jury is still out on Betaine HCl’s role in helping manage these symptoms, adequate stomach acid supports the digestion of proteins and fats, which are abundant in foods that cause discomfort. Some studies indicate that increasing stomach acidity in people with low stomach acid may help proper digestion and help these symptoms.10 ‡
Lifestyle Factors to Help Ease Acid Reflux
How we lead and live our life has a big impact on our overall health and acid reflux is no different. You can implement lifestyle changes to help ease heartburn and aid in relief.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight may help improve heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. The reason behind this is that excess pounds may put pressure on the abdomen, ultimately pushing the stomach up and causing acid to back up into the esophagus.5 Incorporating a healthy diet and exercise may help lead to a healthy weight. This, in turn, will reduce pressure on the stomach and diminish the potential for ongoing heartburn discomfort.
Avoid tight-fitting clothing
We all know the feeling of coming home after a long day of work and the first thing you want to do is change out of your fancy, form-fitting business clothes into sweatpants and something a little more comfortable. Turns out, there’s science behind changing into loose-fitting clothing. Did you know that constricting clothing puts pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter? This leads to the potential to exacerbate occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux symptoms.5
Change up your meal routine
Certain foods, such as highly acidic foods like citrus fruits and vegetables, or corrosive foods like coffee and spicy foods, may trigger your heartburn - limiting them may help manage your symptoms. If you find the traditional three large meals per day start to trigger those nasty heartburn symptoms, try opting for frequent small meals throughout the day. Another good idea is to avoid lying down after a meal by waiting about 2 to 3 hours. It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid late meals too close to bedtime.5
Elevate the head of your bed
If you sometimes experience heartburn at night, it may be a good idea to elevate the head of your bed. If that's not possible, insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. Keep in mind, though, that raising your head with additional pillows usually isn't effective as these pillows can slip and cause you to slump back down in a flat position. Elevating your body from the waist up helps prevent the body from experiencing nighttime reflux. This is because gravity comes into play, helping keep the contents of the stomach down better in an upright position versus a lying down, flat position.5
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Both smoking and drinking alcohol decrease the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.5 Repetitive smoking and alcohol intake may weaken the esophageal sphincter’s ability to close properly, enhancing the potential for stomach acid to reflux back into the esophagus.3
Diet and Nutrition to Ease Heartburn
As you may already be aware, certain foods like hot jalapeno peppers or highly acidic fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges, and highly corrosive foods like chocolate and caffeine contribute to unwanted heartburn symptoms. But did you know that certain foods help support esophageal function and help alleviate these symptoms? ‡ 6
For example, high-protein foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu and legumes help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Plus, low-fat foods and healthy complex carbohydrates help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.7
Most health professionals generally recommend following a diet low in highly acidic foods. These would include high citrus foods like oranges or grapefruit and opting for lower acid fruits like bananas or avocadoes. Limiting spicy foods like peppers, paprika and traditional chili seasonings is also recommended. If you want that extra blast of flavor with your foods, try herbal compounds like basil, thyme, parsley and sage. Additionally, consider limiting high-fat foods such as those fried and opt for those baked, stewed, or grilled. These simple dietary changes may help manage acid reflux and make mealtime more enjoyable.6
How to Best Manage Occasional Heartburn Holistically‡
You can try many different holistic approaches to help manage your occasional heartburn and associated acid reflux symptoms. From lifestyle factors such as changing dietary habits, limiting late-night snacking and maintaining a healthy weight to limiting highly acidic and spicy foods to getting adequate exercise and promoting achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, you can implement many different factors to help manage your heartburn. Another way you can holistically support the unwanted signs of occasional heartburn is by leveraging our Pure Encapsulations® Heartburn Essentials* or Betaine HCl/Pepsin to lower stomach acidity and to support healthy gastric function.‡
We’ve got you covered here at Pure Encapsulations®, where you can find products to support your occasional heartburn and overall wellness journey.‡
- Heartburn: What you need to know NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/article/heartburn-what-you-need-to-know.
- Maret-Ouda, J., et al. (2020), JAMA, 324(24), p. 2536. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.21360.
- Rosen, R.D., et al. (2023) Physiology, Lower Esophageal Sphincter, PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557452/.
- Clarrett, D.M., et al. (2018), Missouri medicine, 115(3), pp. 214–218. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140167/.
- Mayo Clinic (2018) Heartburn - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic, org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373229.
- Mehta, R.S. et al.(2021) JAMA Internal Medicine [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7238.
- Newberry, C., et al. (2019) Journal of Thoracic Disease, 11(S12), pp. 1594–1601. Available at: https://doi.org/10.21037/jtd.2019.06.42.
- Herdiana, Y. (2023) Nutrients, 15(16), p. 3583. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15163583.
- Mizuta, K. et al. (1978) ‘[Effects of gamma-oryzanol and atropine on gastric secretion stimulated by insulin or 2-deoxy-D-glucose (author’s transl)]’, Nihon Yakurigaku Zasshi. Folia Pharmacologica Japonica, 74(4), pp. 517–524. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/700514/ (Accessed: 9 January 2024).
- Fatima, R., et al. (2020) Achlorhydria, PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507793/.