Acid reflux, commonly referred to as heartburn, is a common digestive complaint. Acid reflux involves digestive juice splashing out of the stomach and into the esophagus, where it causes irritation, inflammation and pain. In general, acidic, fatty and foods that lead to bloating trigger acid reflux, whereas alkaline foods that are easily digested tend to sooth the symptoms of heartburn. Saltines are an old folk remedy for heartburn and they may taste good lathered with butter, but you should avoid any excess fat until your symptoms subside. Consult your doctor about dietary recommendations for chronic acid reflux.
Acid reflux has a variety of causes and factors. Eating too much food or eating just before lying down are common causes, as are eating spicy and acidic foods. Sometimes, the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a band of muscle dividing the esophagus from the stomach’s opening, weakens and allows hydrochloric acid to reflux, or back up, into the esophagus. Chronic acid reflux is often diagnosed as gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. Symptoms of acid reflux include burning chest and throat pain, upset stomach, nausea, belching and bloating. With time, chronic acid reflux damages the lining of the esophagus. Sometimes, acid reflux symptoms can be serious enough to mimic a heart attack.
Saltines, also called soda crackers, are thin, square crackers made from white flour, shortening, yeast, and baking soda, and are usually topped with some coarse salt. Saltines are an old remedy for heartburn because they contain baking soda and cream of tartar, both of which are alkaline and able to neutralize the acid in the esophagus. Furthermore, chewed-up saltines are absorbent and act as a sponge to soak up acid as they move down the esophagus towards the stomach.
Butter and Acid Reflux
When you eat foods high in fat, such as butter, the fat takes longer to digest in your stomach, which stimulates increased production of hydrochloric acid. As such, eating fatty food can trigger acid reflux or worsen the symptoms. Most doctors recommend a low-fat diet to combat acid reflux or GERD, according to the “Textbook of Functional Medicine.” Furthermore, butter is high in saturated fat, which is linked to higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Saltines are a cheap and safe folk remedy to reduce the symptoms of an occasional bout of heartburn or acid reflux, but they are not meant as a treatment for chronic cases or GERD. If you are trying to reduce the symptoms of heartburn, it’s probably best to eat saltines plain, instead of coating them with anything fatty, such as butter, peanut butter or cheese. Eating small, frequent meals based on whole grains, vegetables and fruit is also helpful for preventing acid reflux. Avoiding vegetables that cause bloating, such as broccoli, cauliflower and beans, is also helpful because too much pressure can force the esophageal sphincter open and allow stomach acid to escape.
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine; A. Fauci et al.
- Textbook of Nutritional Medicine; Melvyn Werbach and Jeffery Moss
- Textbook of Functional Medicine; David S. Jones