Acid reflux is also known as gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD). Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle becomes abnormally relaxed allowing stomach acid or, occasionally, stomach content, to flow back or reflux into the food pipe. Acid reflux and heartburn are common digestive conditions that affects many people. The most common causes of acid reflux is due to lifestyle choices such as fried and processed foods, drinking alcohol, smoking. Obesity and pregnancy also has tendency to causes acid reflux as it increases pressure on the stomach, causing the contents of the stomach to travel up into the throat. Certain physical conditions such as bending over, lying down, lifting heavy objects can also flare-up reflux symptoms. Prolonged exposure to refluxed acid results in esophagitis and sometimes lead to rare complication such as esophageal cancer.
See Also: Heartburn
Causes of Acid Reflux
- Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist.
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating citrus foods such as citrus, tomato
- Eating certain food such as onion, garlic, spicy & fatty foods
- In some people even eating chocolates can cause acid reflux
- Drinking beverages like tea, coffee, carbonated drinks or alcohol
- Snacking close to bedtime or sleeping right after taking food
- Certain medications such as antibiotics, pain killers such as ibuprofen, aspirin or in some cases blood pressure medication can also cause acid reflux
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
- Sour taste in mouth
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Acid reflux may reach the throat and mouth
- Hoarseness due to irritation of the larynx
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
- Aloe vera: Take 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice three times a day between meals. Aloe vera helps soothes an irritated esophagus and also helps to heal the damaged tissue.
- Licorice: Boil 1/2 teaspoon licorice root in a cup of water for few minutes. Strain and drink this three to four times a day between meals. OR Take 1-2 Deglycyrrhizinated licorice capsules three or four times a day. Licorice bring quick relief and may help heal the damaged stomach lining.
- Baking soda: Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water and drink it for fast relief. Sodium bicarbonate acts as an antacid and quickly neutralizes stomach acid and relieves acid reflux symptoms.
- Apple cider vinegar: Add 1-2 teaspoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink. ACV is one of the popular natural solution for acid reflux. It helps balance stomach pH by neutralizing stomach acid.
- Marshmallow: Make a tea with 5-6 gm of marshmallow root or leaf by steeping it into hot water and drink this tea throughout the day. Marshmallow is a demulcent herb that can help relieve acid reflux symptoms. Demulcent herbs soothe and protect the inflamed mucous membrane in the esophagus and stomach that occur with the reflux.
- Slippery elm: Steep 1-2 tablespoons of slippery elm bark powder in a glass of hot water for 5 minutes. Drink this water after meals. Add little honey to improve the taste. Slippery elm is demulcent herb that has soothing effect on stomach lining. Do not take any other medication within one hour after consuming slippery elm as it may interfere with medications.
- Chamomile: Make a tea from 1-2 gm of chamomile flowers by steeping it into a cup of water for 5 minutes. Drink this tea for three four times a day. Chamomile acts as an anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory which can improve acid reflux symptoms and help to heal the damaged tissue.
Do’s for Acid Reflux
- Figure out what triggers your acid reflux. Everyone has specific triggers. Some common triggers are fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, alcohol, and smoking. Some people experience acid reflux symptoms due to bananas, and even apples. So, the best thing is to avoid the foods that trigger your acid reflux.
- Drink water an hour after the meal to allow the body to absorb the nutrients. Do not to drink too soon before or after a meal as the water will dilute the digestive juices.
- Include whole grains, raw vegetables, and raw nuts and seeds in your diet. The essential nutrient and fiber helps in relieving gastric symptoms and also helps to heal gastric mucosa.
- Include spinach, lettuce, celery, potatoes, corn, honey, and rice which has soothing effect and are nourishing too.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to neutralize the excess acidity in the stomach and maintain good digestive health.
- Eat small, regular meals rather than occasional big meals.
- After eating, stay upright; take a walk.
- Consider weight loss, if you are overweight. Excess weight put pressure on the abdomen and causing acid to back up into the esophagus.
- Sleep with your head raised, which help to prevent acid reflux.
- Manage stress level by practicing deep breathing exercise, and meditation. The release of cortisol hormone during stress affects the acid level of the stomach making acid reflux worst.
Don’ts for Acid Reflux
- Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, fried and greasy foods, processed foods, heavy sauces, and red meat.
- Minimize or cut out citrus fruit (such as oranges, lemon, grapefruit), tomatoes, mint, onions, garlic, vinegar, green and red peppers. Pay attention to see if symptoms flare up when eating these foods.
- Avoid caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and carbonated drinks.
- Avoid hot spicy food, pickles, and fermented food.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes or belts which may put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Don’t smoke; as smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.
- Don’t sit hunched up at your desk; this will encourage heartburn. Try not bend or stoop over.
- Never go to bed or lie down immediately after a meal which tends to aggravate the symptoms. Stay up for three hours before bedtime.
- If you suspect that you have GERD.
- If your signs and symptoms worsen.
- If you experience nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing.
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