Can Keto Diet Help Heartburn?

heartburn on keto

That familiar burning in the chest can put a damper on any dinner or special occasion. Dealing with heartburn is no fun, and people with this condition look for solutions to soothe digestion and relieve pain and discomfort. If you are following a keto diet, or are considering doing so, you may be wondering what effect a keto diet has on heartburn. Let’s take a deeper look.

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is usually a symptom of acid reflux, when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing irritation. The esophagus is just behind the heart and people usually feel a burning sensation there; therefore, it is called “heartburn”.

Heartburn is the term used to describe an uncomfortable feeling, usually a burning or painful sensation in the chest. Sometimes you may feel a sour or bitter taste in your throat or mouth, and it usually occurs after a big meal or after lying down after a meal. 

If you have two or more episodes of acid reflux symptoms per week, you may have acid reflux disease, also known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Symptoms of Heartburn

The main symptoms of heartburn that occur in most cases are easy to spot, but there can be inexperienced outlier symptoms.

The main symptoms of heartburn include a warming or burning sensation in the chest and throat, which is directly related to stomach acid being forced into the esophagus. This usually occurs immediately or shortly after eating certain types of food (we will discuss the list of foods later in this article).

Other types of symptoms may include the following:

  • Burning indigestion pain
  • Increased amount of sweat after eating
  • Acidic taste in the mouth coming from the back of the throat
  • Painful burps or hiccups

What are Common Causes of Heartburn on Keto?

Heartburn can be caused by many things and changing your diet, such as going into ketosis, can exacerbate heartburn. Your digestive system gets used to the way you eat over time, so a sudden change can have some initial bad effects.

Some common foods associated with heartburn are:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Carbonated beverages, especially sugary ones
  • Acidic foods and juices such as tomatoes, oranges, pineapple
  • Chocolate
  • Smoking
  • Grain based food

Some other reasons that can cause heartburn are:

  • Smoking
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut
  • Iron deficiency
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity, as it may cause increased pressure in the abdomen
  • Underlying issues such as stomach ulcers, hernias and diseases of the oesophagus

Is it Normal to Have Heartburn on Keto?

Yes, it is normal to experience heartburn on keto. In fact, many people experience heartburn when they first start the diet. The reason for this is that the keto diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Fatty foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus. When the LES relaxes, stomach acid flows out and causes heartburn. 

However, once your body gets used to the keto diet, the heartburn will go away. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. I’m going to show you a few things you can do to get rid of it easily.

How to Get rid of Heartburn on Keto?

Now I’m going to share with you some of the best tried and tested tips for getting rid of heartburn.

Here are some tips that have helped me fight keto heartburn:

  • Eat Slowly: When you eat too fast, you tend to swallow a lot of air along with your food. This air builds up in your stomach and can lead to heartburn. So the next time you sit down to eat, take your time and savor each bite.
  • Drink Apple Cider Vinegar: Raw ACV introduces more acid into the digestive tract, thereby artificially raising levels. In addition, raw ACV has been associated with reduced symptoms of hyperglycemia, diabetes and acid reflux.
  • Cut out the cheese: And by cheese I mean all dairy products! Many people are intolerant to dairy products and don’t even realize it. Dairy products can cause many digestive problems, including heartburn. If you want to get rid of heartburn, I recommend cutting out all dairy products for at least a few weeks.
  • Limit Liquids with Meals: I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay hydrated, but it may be wise not to consume large amounts of fluids with meals. Large amounts of fluid after a meal have the potential to “dilute” the stomach acid produced to help break down food. Therefore, keep your water intake to a minimum during meals.
  • Eat a Ripe Banana: Bananas contain high levels of potassium, which makes them alkaline. This helps neutralize stomach acid and can relieve heartburn. So the next time you feel heartburn coming on, pick up a banana! (Don’t forget, it has to be ripe).
  • Add More Salt to Your Food: It may sound counterintuitive, but adding more salt to your food can actually help relieve heartburn. Especially black salt! Black salt is known to regulate the acidity in your body and reduce the symptoms of heartburn.
  • Eat Fermented Vegetables: Fermented vegetables, such as kimchi and sauerkraut can naturally improve levels. Foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut have probiotic effects that improve digestion, increase intestinal health, and reduce inflammation. 
  • Supplements: Some doctors recommend supplementing with betaine hydrochloride for those who don’t regularly produce enough stomach acid. 
  • Stay Upright after Eating: If you suffer from acid reflux and heartburn, the conventional wisdom of standing or sitting up straight after a meal may be beneficial to you. Allowing gravity to do its work will help reduce the chance of food reflux back into the esophagus.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are definitely a few different ways that a keto diet can cause heartburn, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid the diet altogether.

If you are able to determine exactly what is causing it, you should be able to effectively eliminate or address certain triggers without having to give up the keto diet altogether.

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