Does Milk Help Heartburn

Does Milk Help Heartburn?

Does milk help heartburn? This is a question that many of us find ourselves wondering these days. It is no secret that fried and fatty foods can definitely contribute to the onset of heartburn, and in a society where one can feed a family of four off the dollar menu at various restaurants for under ten bucks… Well, let’s just say that heartburn is going to be inevitable sometimes! Many of us can remember an older and wiser relative telling us to drink a glass of milk to soothe that burning sensation in the chest, but does milk help heartburn symptoms or is that simply an old wives’ tale passed down through generations?


What is Heartburn Really?

Heartburn is a condition that occurs when acid in the stomach pushes its way up through the lower esophageal sphincter. The LES is a band of muscles that gathers around the area where the lower portion of the esophagus enters the opening of the stomach. Normally this highly potent acid is safely retained in the stomach which is protected by a thick lining that repels the acid. Unfortunately the esophagus doesn’t contain the same durable lining and becomes irritated when acid enters the esophagus. Normally the LES keeps the acid where it is supposed to be but occasionally an overstuffed stomach or lying down soon after a meal allows the LES to relax and up comes the acid, burning away at the opening of the esophagus.


Stomach acid is…acidic. Milk is an alkaline, which basically works like kryptonite to break down the acid until it is neutralized. Studies have shown that milk is definitely effective at soothing heartburn as it goes down, and the effects are quite immediate in most individuals. However (this is where the catch-22 bit comes in) the neutralizing effect of milk can then spur the stomach to produce even more acid because it noticed a shortage of the substance. In answer to the question, Does milk help heartburn?, there really are no absolute results proving or disproving milk as a cure for heartburn. This is largely because the human body differs slightly from person to person. Milk may work like a charm for one person yet cause serious stomach upset for someone else. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re willing to chance it!


Be Careful With the Moo-Juice!

If you are a full-fat milk type of person, then you might find that milk soothes your heartburn symptoms only for a while. In fact, the fat content of the milk itself is likely to cause further stomach upset. Why trade one pain for another, right? Save yourself the hassle and spring for skimmed or one percent milk. If you can’t stand the flavor of either, try two percent milk, but bear in mind that two percent milk does still have quite a lot of fat in it. Some skimmed milk even features a “tastes just like whole!” message on the label, which might be worth trying. Also, be carefully how much milk you drink. If your heartburn is a result of having too much food which caused acid and bits of your lunch to spring back up into the esophagus, then guzzling down a bunch of milk is ultimately only going to add to your predicament. Start with a few mouthfuls and see how you feel. Continue to drink slowly until you feel the symptoms start to ease. Another tip for using milk to ease your heartburn is to only do so at least three hours before going to bed. Eating and drinking anything but water before bed is one of the major causes of heartburn in the first place.

Lactose Intolerant?

If you are lactose intolerant, you may be feeling a little left out. Don’t worry; there are other things you can use to nix your heartburn. Baking soda dissolved in water is one at-home remedy, as is drinking a small glass of water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Some people attest that eating a slice of bread of a handful of pretzels will help absorb the acid which found its way into the throat, but this will not be effective at curing heartburn brought on by an overstuffed tummy.