Have you ever had heartburn? Do you know what it feels like? Well, this feels like a burning sensation in your chest, behind the breastbone. Most people feel it after they eat, more so in the late hours of the day.
Others get it when they lie down after a meal or bend over after having a heavy meal. That is why doctors insist that you should not sleep after having a meal. But many people ignore this and go ahead to enjoy an afternoon nap immediately after eating – not the best idea.
The problem with heartburns
With heartburn, frequency is the issue. It is uncommon to come across someone who has not had heartburn in a while. This condition is quite common and affects so many people in one day. However, when it comes about more than usual, it becomes a problem. But if you only get it when you overindulge on some foods in the weekend, you are okay. Most such symptoms are manageable by getting meds and making some lifestyle changes.
If your heartburn comes about more often than not, you could have a problem in your hands. You should look at the accompanying symptoms. You see, heartburn will feel like burning in the chest. Most times, you also get a bitter taste in the mouth. When going through this, lying down or bending over makes the pain worse. That should be okay now and then.
Some heartburn cases may not be a symptom of gastrointestinal issues but could be a sign of cardiovascular problems. Did you know that chest pain can be indicatory of heart attacks? Yes, that pain could be alerting you that all is not well in your heart. That means that you should treat every heartburn case differently.
When should you worry? One, if the pain or pressure in the chest becomes too much, you should seek medical advice. The same goes for if you feel nauseated, vomit or have trouble swallowing fluids and solids. Secondly, if you are on meds and have not seen any improvement, you may need more medical intervention.
Also, if the heartburn cases are more than twice a week, you could have something other than acid reflux. And three, if you are losing weight because your appetite has reduced or cannot eat. Any of these symptoms could indicate that something else is up, other than acid reflux. As such, you should not ignore anything that feels out of the norm.
What causes heartburn?
Not all cases are the same, as indicated above. Some heartburn cases are not acid reflux, but rather, an indication that your body is not functioning as needed. An example would be where you are undergoing a heart attack. In such a case, your tea is not to blame (most likely).
Heartburn takes place when the acids in your stomach come up through the gullet and back to the mouth. You experience a burning given that your gullet does not have specialized cells to deal with this high acidity. Your stomach cells do, but your gullet does not.
Note that the backing up of stomach contents should not take place ordinarily. When you swallow food, muscles at the lower end of the gullet relax and allow the contents into the stomach. After this, the muscles constrict, ensuring that foods remain in the stomach where they undergo digestion.
Backing up happens when the muscles relax or weaken such that the contents can move up the gullet. Such should not be the case, and it gets worse when you bend over or lie down.
Some people are more at risk of getting heartburn than others. These include people with a high intake of spicy, fatty and fried foods, citrus fruits, tomato products and large meals. And of course, there is the culprit you have been waiting for – caffeinated products. The latter includes coffee, tea, chocolate and the likes.
If you have a high intake of these, you are more likely to end up with this burning sensation. Also, being overweight or pregnant puts you at a higher risk of this more than other people.
Types of tea and their risk of causing heartburn
If you have been having many heartburn cases, you could be right in thinking that tea is to blame. The funny thing is that some teas will ease your symptoms while others will trigger it. You should thus understand which drink works for you and which one works against you.
And that involves reading the label before making any purchases. Ginger, holy basil and chamomile teas have been proven to ease symptoms while your favorite green tea could be causing the reflux. Here is what you need to know:
Taking caffeinated drinks is not advisable for anyone who is at risk of acid reflux. If anything, they make the reflux worse and can make mealtimes frustrating for you. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are soothing and aid in reducing inflammation.
But that does not mean that all can work in your favor. Some of these herbal options have high acidic content that can make the reflux worse. That leaves you in a bit of a fix, does it not?
These teas taste great and are a go-to for many people who wish to have sweet tea with low caloric content. The citrus infusions give them a boost in flavor that other teas may not offer. The problem with this infusion is that it lowers the pH of the drink.
You see, tea will naturally have a pH value of about 4-5, which is slightly acidic. It is such that it can do little harm to the stomach unless you drink it in bulk. That is not the case when you have citrus fruits in play. These can lower the range to 3, making the drinks highly acidic.
They are thus as bad as fruit juices when it comes to aggravating heartburn symptoms. It is especially worse when someone combines these with caffeinated teas.
This type of tea includes spearmint and peppermint options, among others. For a long time, people have relied on these teas to keep hunger pangs at bay. It mostly owes to their scent, which creates a feeling of satiety. While this tea can work great in helping you lose weight, it could be causing other issues.
The components of this drink can relax the stomach. That should be a good thing for anyone having stomach cramps. But the problem with this change is that it also relaxes the sphincter muscles at the bottom of the gullet. You can guess what happens next, which makes this tea a bad choice for you.
Most people take their tea black, green, white and the likes of these. These are known as the conventional teas which come from the camellia sinensis plant. They undergo oxidization and contain caffeine in varying amounts. A cup of black tea can give you as many as 90 mg in one cup. That debunks the myth that tea is much lower in caffeine content compared to coffee.
Did you know that a cup of brewed coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine? That makes the difference between black tea and black coffee about ten milligrams. In some cases, this difference may not be in play.
As such, while you may think that tea would not have the same effects as coffee, you are wrong. This high caffeine content has been shown to cause some relaxation in the lower gullet muscles. Additionally, teas are also highly acidic, which alters the pH in the stomach, causing reflux.
On the upside, there are some ways to reduce the acidity and caffeine content in teas. Thus, if you do decide that you want to keep up with the tea, you can do so.
This tea comes from the ginger root and is beneficial to people suffering from acid reflux. It has anti-inflammatory effects that reduce irritation in the gastrointestinal system owing to exposure to acids. Additionally, it soothes the stomach and can reduce the feelings of nausea.
The presence of phenolic compounds works in its favor. These work in reducing the backing up of stomach contents and reducing pain that owes from too much acid in the stomach.
This tea also goes by the name Tulsi tea and works in treating a myriad of conditions, among them nausea. It targets digestive issues by reducing stomach acid and increasing mucus secretion. Plus, it also reduces inflammation and provides stress relief to some extent.
While many people rely on this beverage to sleep better, it also works wonders in reducing acid reflux symptoms. Some of its benefits include reduced stomach cramps and reduced backing up of contents. Like with other beneficial teas, it also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Reducing tea’s caffeine content
What can you do if you still want to have your cup of tea but cannot handle the heartburn? Luckily for you, there are some simple techniques that could help you with this.
The first option lies in finding a tea type that has less caffeine. You see, many factors go into determining the caffeine content in tea. These include field conditions, the age of the plant, growing region, soil nutrients and such others—also, the processing matters. Black tea will have the most caffeine, while white tea will have the least. The other options under the camellia sinensis plant will fall between these two extremes.
The second step goes into how you prepare the tea. The brewing time should be shorter than a minute as this reduces caffeine content by up to 50%. Also, you can use the same leaves for subsequent cups such that you get more use out of them. Plus, this would reduce your caffeine intake in one day. Work on reducing the number of tea leaves you use in one cup. Where a recipe calls for a teaspoon of tea leaves, how about you work with half?
These two tips will go a long way in reducing your chances of acid reflux. Or better yet, go for decaf options.
Relieving heartburn symptoms
If tea is not the problem, you need to look into what else could be causing you this pain.
How do you eat? You see, when you eat a lot at once, you fill the stomach at once. Instead of going for three meals, how about you eat small meals spread over the day?
What do you eat? As we have covered, taking some foods such as tea could be the cause of this pain. Look into your diet and identify culprits such as alcohol, onions and spicy foods, and such others. Work on eliminating each until you find what the problem is.
What do you do after eating? Bending over or lying down after a meal will likely trigger backing up of contents. As such, sit still after eating, ensuring that you stay up. If you have to sleep, do so on recline.
How is your lifestyle? Some things will put you at more risk of heartburn. These include unhealthy weight gain and smoking. You may need to change how you live.
The risk of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
If your heartburn occurs more often than not and impedes your routine, you could have GERD which calls for treatment. Note that the lack of treatment for this condition can damage your gullet. It could also lead to changes in the gut that could predispose you to cancer.
As such, if you try eliminating risk factors such as tea and do not get any relief, consult your doctor. Feel better soon!