Heartburn is a painful burning sensation experienced in the chest below the breastbone due to the reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
The reflux is a result of the relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter muscle (LES) which under normal conditions is supposed to stay tight.
The relaxation of the sphincter is usually a result of poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, alcoholism, smoking and several other pathological and physiological factors.
Though heartburn is a common disorder and can be easily treated with simple medications and natural remedies, its negligence can lead to a more severe ailment called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Foods Containing High Potassium Contents help Heal Heartburn
Preliminary or low level heartburn can be easily managed by taking a specific or balanced diet.
One of the types of foods that are recommended to control acid reflux symptoms includes those that contain high potassium.
Food items that contain high amounts of potassium are also known as alkaline foods. Heartburn is majorly caused due to overproduction of acid in the stomach and meals with high acid content may increase the prevalence of reflux .
However, the food items that contain ions like potassium are highly alkaline in nature. This means that they work opposite to that of the acids and try to neutralize the excessive acid in the stomach, thus preventing heartburns .
1. Potassium Foods Neutralize Stomach Acids
Certain types of foods that contain high amounts of minerals such as potassium ions help neutralize the excess acid produced in the stomach.
Certain antacids also contain potassium ions which fight the excess acid and raise the overall pH in the gut to prevent the acid attack .
2. High Potassium Balances the acid pumps of gastric glands in the gut
The gastric glands in the gut are those cells that secrete acid in the stomach. The process of acid secretion majorly involves a pump that throws out hydrogen ions and takes up potassium ions.
The hydrogen ions depict the acid here. More of these ions mean more acid secretion. The pump is balanced by the potassium ions which are taken up by the same pump every time the acid is secreted out.
This whole process is a strictly coordinated balanced phenomenon.
However, due to certain reasons, this balance is disturbed and the acid secretion in the gut is increased.
What it Means: Potassium in diet balances the acid pump in the gut cells and manages the secretion of acid such that there is no overproduction or less production of acid. This cures heartburn, indigestion and several other related disorders.
3. Potassium Foods Help Fight Ulcerative Colitis
One of the major types of gut diseases is ulcerative colitis. It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease in which the intestines get ulcerations due to excessive acidity and inflammation .
Though not closely related to heartburn, its treatment through potassium provides insights onto how it might cure heartburn as well.
Studies done on potassium levels of the blood and the gut show that low potassium levels (hypopotassemia) was associated with the misbalance of ion levels in the whole body including gastrointestinal tract .
The imbalance of the ions in the gut leads to the acidity of the gut and the urine and other symptoms that not only affect the gut but the brain and heart as well.
Maintaining the potassium levels of the gut is thus necessary to prevent the acidosis and consequently the diseases arising by ion imbalance .
What it Means: Potassium ions prevent the ionic imbalance of the gut and consequently excessive acidity which helps ameliorate gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and heartburn.
Food Sources Containing High Potassium
There are several food sources that can give an ample amount of potassium needed for the body daily.
It is always recommended that food and not supplements of potassium should be taken in appropriate amounts to stay healthy and ameliorate diseases.
In general, most raw fruits and vegetables contain sufficient potassium to supply us with our daily needs.
Given below is the list of food items and the exact amount of potassium it contains.
Of these listed food items, banana, yogurt, 100% orange juice, low-fat milk, and most vegetables and fruits show a promising effect of reducing heartburn naturally and efficiently .
Dosage and Consumption
Consumption of food items containing high amounts of potassium should be strictly regulated. It is always beneficial to include some of the food items listed above in a normal daily diet to keep away the diseases.
In the case of heartburn, the dosage should be consulted with a dietician or if taking without a prescription, the amount should be monitored and in appropriate quantities.
Inclusion of the above-listed items in the diet in more than 1 meal per day may help reduce incidences of heartburn.
Precautions and Side Effects
The mineral and ion content of our body is strictly regulated and varies for each person with a different medical condition. Depending on the ailment, a person might need more or less potassium intake.
For instance, people with heartburn or high blood pressure need more potassium in their diet.
However, if the patient is suffering from kidney disorders or low blood pressure besides heartburn, it is advisable to consult a doctor before going for high potassium diet to cure heartburn.
This is because the medications of low blood pressure often increase potassium levels of the body and kidney disorders might be exacerbated with the fluctuations of ions and minerals in the body.
There are several similar diseases which might get worse if potassium is taken without prescription.
Thus, in case the patient is suffering from any disease other than heartburn, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor before changing the diet .
Potassium is an important element and is required for several functions in the body. One important function of this is to regulate acid production in the gut.
It also helps increase the pH of the stomach, thereby neutralizing acid and reducing the symptoms of heartburn.
Several food items contain high amounts of potassium naturally and in enough amounts to fulfill our daily needs.
Including these food items in daily diets not only cure the body of acid reflux but also keeps away heartburn and other diseases to occur in the future.