Most have experienced that burning sensation in our chest at some point and hopefully you knew right away that it was acid reflux. I soon learned about the condition and spent some time researching it. For those who are not familiar with acid reflux, you may have some questions as I did. Let’s discuss natural remedies – acid reflux and learn more about this common, but painful condition.
Acid reflux is caused by a dysfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter. This sphincter is supposed to close after food has passed through. However, on some occasions, this sphincter remains slightly open allowing some of the gastric acids from the lower digestive system through it. This is the burning sensation that you experience when you have acid reflux – the acid travelling up your esophagus (the tube that connects your throat and your stomach).
Most people believe that acid reflux is caused by too much acid in the body, but research shows that low stomach acid is actually the major cause of reflux. Once the acid travels back up your esophagus, your stomach acid is lowered, and digestion is altered. This causes unpleasant reflux symptoms. Researchers also blame the modern diet which is high in processed foods and sugar for reflux and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
Acid Reflux Symptoms
While that burning sensation is a clear telltale that you have reflux, there are some other symptoms to look out for:
- ● A bitter taste in your mouth
- ● Heartburn
- ● Dry Mouth
- ● Feeling like you are choking or coughing in the night
- ● Bad breath
- ● Gum irritation or bleeding
- ● Bloating after meals
- ● Nausea
- ● Black stools
- ● Belching and gassiness after meals
- ● Bloody vomiting
- ● Unexpected weight loss
- ● Hoarseness when you wake up and throughout the day
- ● Chronic throat irritation and dryness
While not every one of the symptoms above indicates reflux when you experience them individually, if you are experiencing many of these symptoms together, then you might want to try some natural remedies and see if the symptoms subside. It is important to note that natural remedies are our first line of defense, if symptoms don’t get better and become increasingly worse, then it is always a good idea to seek professional medical advice. Acid reflux can lead to more serious conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus, cancer of the esophagus, sleep-related problems, and chronic coughing.
GERD is the Word
GERD is the abbreviated term for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is the condition that untreated, severe, and frequent acid reflux contributes to. It is most commonly referred to as heartburn. As mentioned above, people suffering from GERD are not suffering from too much stomach acid, instead, they are suffering from acid in the wrong place in their body. The most common symptoms of GERD include chest pains and difficulty swallowing. Most GERD symptoms happen after eating.
The Acid Reflux Diet
By now we all know how important our diet is for our health. If you suffer from any form of acid reflux, there are certain foods and drinks that you can incorporate into your daily diet that will help improve the symptoms and possibly eliminate them altogether. There are specific foods that you should avoid that aggravate acid reflux more than others.
Almost every single study conducted on GERD and acid reflux leads to a poor diet and processed foods as a major contributing factor. Not only are processed foods bad for these reflux disorders, but overconsumption of these foods can really make the condition worse. People have lost the art of mindful eating and often overeat. Research shows that common food sensitivities are also contributing factors to these conditions and we need to be aware of these “repeat offenders” in our diet.
Foods to Include in your Diet
● Bone broth made from grass-fed beef has essential elements for gut health such as collagen and glutamine
● Kefir and cultured yoghurt help balance gut bacteria
● Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut
● Kombucha for its probiotics and healthy bacteria
● Raw apple cider vinegar helps lessen symptoms
● Coconut water helps replenish electrolytes and minerals that the acid may destroy
● Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory
● Green leafy vegetables
● All squash
● Wild-caught tuna and salmon
● Healthy fats including ghee
● Raw cow’s milk cheese
● Raw honey
● Herbal Teas
● Filtered water
● Aloe Vera juice
Many of these foods are good for people who experience digestive issues and they can help treat IBS and leaky gut, as well as aiding weight loss as mentioned in this helpful article: https://betanaturalhealth.com/food-to-eat-and-lose-weight/.
Foods to Avoid
● Alcohol, especially close to bedtime or when eating other foods that aggravate symptoms
● Caffeine can irritate the inflamed esophageal tube
● Carbonated drinks, including mineral water
● Sugar and artificial sweeteners which all cause inflammation
● Processed foods, especially those containing soy, corn, salt, and potato (crackers, chips, cereals, etc.)
● Fatty fried foods that are difficult to digest
● Dairy products (excluding yoghurt and kefir if you aren’t intolerant)
● Vegetable oils that are processed, like sunflower oil and canola oil
● Spicy foods can worsen the burning sensation, opt for less spice!
● Tomatoes and tomato-based products can cause irritation
● Citrus fruits and juices are acidic and can worsen the symptoms
● Processed grains
● Creamy dressings and sauces, try making your own healthy alternatives
● Peppermint and mint have been found to make symptoms worse
The benefit of cutting these foods out of your diet is that not only will it help with your acid reflux or GERD symptoms, but it will benefit your health in other areas too! Eliminating “bad” cholesterol inducing foods will help reduce your risk of having a heart attack; that is one painful sensation in your chest that you need to avoid at all costs!
In addition to changing the way that you eat and what you eat, there are some lifestyle changes that you can make that will help improve your overall health and rid your body of these painful reflux symptoms.
● Practice mindful eating and chew your food well; this prevents you from overeating and helps prevent your digestive system from overworking when breaking down the food. Digestion starts in the mouth!
● Don’t eat before bed. Your last meal should be 3 hours before bed which allows your digestive system time to finish working before you go to bed.
● Wear comfortable clothing. Tight and restrictive clothes can worsen symptoms and cause unnecessary pain, especially after eating.
● Sleep on your side and raise your head. Don’t just add pillows but raise the top of your bed by placing bricks underneath the feet. This can help prevent the acid from travelling up your esophagus and keep it in your stomach.
● Manage stress. Stress can cause increased acid production which will worsen reflux symptoms. Try practicing meditation, sitting out in the sun, and taking walks.
● Exercise moderately. Research shows that high-intensity workouts can aggravate reflux symptoms. Also, choose to exercise earlier in the day.
● STOP Smoking. Not only are you damaging your lungs, but research proves that smoking can relax your sphincter, causing your stomach acid to rise. Even second-hand smoke can make symptoms worse.
● Don’t rely on over the counter medication. These temporarily treat the symptoms but have other long-term side effects that may offer more harm than good.
Before reaching for your 100th antacid tablet for the day, consider these natural remedies for treating acid reflux. By treating yourself naturally you will be able to steer clear of those short and long term side effects of prescription drugs and the best part is that you will be treating the cause of the reflux instead of only managing the symptoms. After all, isn’t that what treatment should be about? Targeting the problem and not masking the symptoms.
Here are our top 5 herbal remedies:
This is a great way to manage and treat acid reflux. Sip on chamomile, ginger, and papaya tea throughout the day. These reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and support its healthy functioning. Papaya can help digestion by breaking down the proteins in foods.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is an incredible remedy for reflux. Drink 1 tablespoon diluted in half a glass of warm water before large meals. This can aid digestion, help add good bacteria into your body, and offers antibacterial properties. Always look for a good quality raw apple cider vinegar.
Sometimes acid reflux is caused by free radicals in the body that damage the cells lining the digestive tract. Honey has antioxidants that help prevent this damage by removing the free radicals. Honey can reduce inflammation in the esophagus and its texture coats the mucous membranes in the esophagus.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera juice is a natural anti-inflammatory and protects the lining of the stomach and digestive tract. Drink the appropriate amount (see the bottle for directions) before your meals to prevent heartburn symptoms.
Baking soda has a pH level of 7.0 which makes it a basic substance. It can be helpful for neutralizing that acidic burning pain and acid build-up. Simply mix ½ to 1 teaspoon in a glass of water and drink it as needed. It is important to not drink this for more than 7 days because it can cause other issues.
Other Natural Remedies to Consider
Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics
Take 2 good quality digestive enzymes before each main meal. These help to fully digest your food and absorb the nutrients you need.
Take 25-50 billion units of probiotics a day. This will help your gut to be replenished with good bacteria which will help balance the digestive tract and get rid of the bad bacteria.
HCL with pepsin should be taken before each meal. Research has shown that HCL can dramatically improve acid reflux and GERD symptoms.
The Problem with OTC Drugs
It’s tempting to just head to the pharmacy and pick up those antacids or prescribed reflux meds your doctor gave you. The problem is that these temporarily help the symptoms but never really treat the root cause, all while creating other side effects. Side effects that are seen long term can include IBS, depression, anemia, chronic liver disease, and fatigue. In fact, the FDA has recommended that people do not take these medications over a long period of time because it has some detrimental effects on your health.
Neutralizing the Burn!
A few simple lifestyle and diet changes is all your body needs to help combat acid reflux and to prevent future occurrences of the painful, burning sensation. While it may feel as though you are having a heart attack if you suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD, some natural home remedies can help naturally ease that chest pain and get down to the root of the problem!
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Until Next Time