Fire in the Belly
Reader's Digest India|July 2021
More stress brings more heartburn, but there are easy ways to beat it
Viviane Fairbank

MORE THAN A year into the pandemic, many people have grown used to a new lockdown lifestyle: staying home, exercising less and eating more—all while experiencing greater levels of stress and anxiety.

“All of this contributes to worsening gut function,” says Christopher Andrews, the lead physician at the Calgary Gut Motility Centre, adding that heartburn is on the rise. Some experts have even given the trend a name—‘pandemic stomach’.

Heartburn, a fiery sensation in the chest or upper belly, is the painful effect of the stomach’s acid and digestive enzymes creeping into the oesophagus. When you swallow food or liquid, your oesophageal sphincter, the muscle around the bottom of your oesophagus, relaxes to allow the contents to move down, then closes to prevent backup. But if that muscle weakens or is unable to close completely, stomach acid might rise, causing irritation.

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