Last updated on May 17th, 2023 at 05:35 pm
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that affects your stomach and esophagus. Usually, the stomach produces an acidic “gastric juice” to digest the protein content of food. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the junction of the esophagus usually closes tightly during digestion. It prevents the reflux of acidic stomach contents back into the esophagus. GERD and acid reflux can make life miserable. The good thing is, there are Acid Reflux Home Remedies we can try.
However, the LES’s functioning is sometimes impaired due to diseases like GERD. In such conditions, the sphincter can’t close properly during the digestion of food. The raised intra-gastric pressure forces the stomach’s acidic contents back into the esophagus, hence the name “acid reflux.” These acidic contents, in turn, cause intense irritation of the esophagus’s walls, creating a burning pain in the chest or upper abdominal region.
The mucosa (lining of the stomach) can tolerate the abuse of this acidic reflux. But, repeated exposure to acidic reflux from the stomach causes mucosa ulceration and leads to chest pain and burning with every meal intake.
GERD affects all aspects of a person’s life. It disturbs eating habits and makes a person feel uncomfortable most of the time. The pain associated with acid reflux makes it difficult to perform routine daily activities effectively. Moreover, if the condition goes untreated, it aggravates the damage done to the esophagus and can cause severe complications like cancer.
Causes And Triggers Of GERD And Acid Reflux
One common cause of acid reflux disease is when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Typically, the diaphragm helps keep acid in our gut. But if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Other common risk factors for acid reflux disease:
- Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Eating certain foods, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods.
- Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications
Common Symptoms Of GERD And Acid Reflux
GERD is Heartburn and Acid Reflux that occurs regularly, usually at least twice a week, or in some cases, even as little as once a week. If you experience these symptoms regularly, it’s essential to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
- Heartburn: a burning pain or discomfort that moves from your stomach to your chest or even up your throat.
- Regurgitation: a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth
- Dysphagia: the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
- Stomach pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
- Hiccups that don’t let up
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
While pharmaceutical drugs are available to treat acid reflux, not everyone wants to pop pills for every little thing. There are several different ways for Acid Reflux Home Remedies to treat it naturally, with some methods working better than others, depending on the individual. So, if you’re looking for home remedies to control your acid reflux, we have some remedies for you to try.
Lifestyle Changes To Limit GERD And Acid Reflux
In most cases, an unhealthy lifestyle is to blame for GERD. Minor lifestyle changes can significantly improve a person’s physical and mental health. If you’re one of the millions of people who experience acid reflux, try the following lifestyle changes:
1. Drink Plenty Of Water
It’s always best to drink plenty of water if experiencing stomach discomfort, acid, or otherwise. When your body is dehydrated, it cannot produce enough saliva, which helps neutralize the effects caused by acids in the foods and beverages we consume daily. So make sure you’re keeping yourself hydrated! Experts recommend drinking a minimum of six 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
2. Avoid Eating Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can irritate an already sensitive stomach. This makes acid reflux worse in two ways. First, the capsaicin in many spicy foods can slow digestion. But before it even gets that far, it can irritate an already irritated esophagus on its way down.
3. Eat Smaller Meals
Try to eat smaller meals rather than larger ones. Heavy meals can trigger the production of large amounts of acid in the stomach. They also cause excessive stomach distention, which puts much pressure on LES. Moreover, heavy meals before bed increase gastric acid production during sleep.
4. Avoid Eating Before Bed
Avoid eating meals close to bedtime. The activity of body muscles decreases significantly during sleep. This relaxation of gut sphincters causes the reflux of food. Try not to eat anything for at least 2-3 hours before bed. This gap is necessary because it allows the stomach and intestines to digest the food properly, and thus reflux is significantly reduced.
5. Avoid Lying Down After Meals
Avoid lying down immediately after meals, as this can be a primary cause of heartburn for many people. When you lay down after meals, the pressure on the LES increases, and the distended stomach pushes the sphincter to an open position. Sit upright for at least 30-45 minutes after each meal. Sitting in an upright posture helps speed up the stomach emptying and prevents distention.
6. Eat Slowly
Many people who are in the habit of eating very fast complain of heartburn after meals. This bad eating habit causes acid reflux in two ways.:
- When you eat rapidly, the stomach doesn’t have enough time to digest food effectively. So, the stomach tries to improve digestion by increasing acid production.
- When the stomach space is rapidly filled with food, the air doesn’t get enough time to escape. The entrapped air increases the intra-gastric pressure, leading to the reflux of acidic contents.
So, chew your food properly before swallowing and try to slow down.
7. Lose Extra Fat
The human body is designed to conserve any extra calories we eat in the form of fat throughout the body. Excess fat deposits around the stomach can increase the pressure on abdominal contents. Try to lose weight by following a few guidelines:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a protein and fiber-rich diet
- Avoid foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol
8. Take A Break From Coffee And Carbonated Beverages
Managing the symptoms of acid reflux involves avoiding known triggers. Caffeine aggravates acid reflux, and the bubbles in carbonated beverages expand in the stomach. This puts pressure on the LES and can push stomach acid and contents back into the food pipe.
9. Avoid Exercising After Meals
Avoid strenuous exercise for at least one hour after meals. These activities can cause heartburn in two ways:
- Heavy exercise after meals increases muscle tension, including the abdominal muscles. In turn, these tensed muscles put a lot of pressure on your stomach.
- Exercise increases the sympathetic drive of the body. This causes the relaxation of the LES.
10. Avoid Tight Clothing
Sometimes, the cause of heartburn can be as simple as tight clothing. Clothing with tight waistlines can put unnecessary pressure on your stomach. Try to wear loose clothes that feel comfortable.
Home Remedies For Addressing GERD And Acid Reflux
We understand how uncomfortable and downright painful GERD can be all too well. But before you resign yourself to a life of discomfort and antacids, try some of these acid reflux home remedies instead. They may not cure your heartburn overnight, but they’ll at least provide you with some relief. Keep in mind that not every treatment will work for everyone, so it might take some trial and error before you find what works best for you.
Probiotics are becoming a popular weapon in the fight against acid reflux. A probiotic supplement may benefit those with acid reflux due to other gut-related causes like antibiotic use.
2. Chew Gum
Chewing gum increases the production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is alkaline because of the production of bicarbonate ions. These bicarbonate ions help neutralize the acid produced by the stomach.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Surprisingly, apple cider vinegar is an effective home remedy for heartburn. It helps in the digestion of food and induces a soothing effect during periods of heartburn. You can make it home, but tablet and liquid forms are readily available in stores. The liquid preparations should be appropriately diluted in water before use.
Ginger has an excellent anti-inflammatory effect, making it an effective home remedy for heartburn. It prevents the inflammation caused by heartburn, provides a soothing effect, and helps reduce the pain associated with heartburn. You can add ginger to your tea or use it in your daily food.
5. Baking Soda
Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of water, mix it well, and drink this mixture after meals. Baking soda is alkaline, so it helps neutralize the acid produced by the stomach. However, this preparation should be avoided by those with high blood pressure as it contains a significant amount of sodium. Sodium causes water retention and an increase in blood pressure.
Turmeric speeds up the digestion process in the stomach, thus preventing the accumulation of food in the abdomen and building intragastric pressure. It has excellent healing properties, so it can help rebuild the mucosa of the esophagus damaged during periods of acid reflux.
7. Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Take digestive enzyme supplements, like bromelain, readily available in most markets. These supplements help speed up the digestion process of the stomach, thus helping reduce the production of acid.
GERD and acid reflux can be a frustrating, uncomfortable, never-ending cycle for those suffering daily. Luckily, there are many lifestyle changes and home remedies that you can try.
However, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution’ for overcoming acid reflux because everyone’s body reacts differently to foods and behaviors. It’s up to you to determine what works best for your particular situation. If your GERD symptoms persist even after trying the suggestions above, consult with your doctor for alternative treatment options.
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Rick Kaselj MS, is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist as well as co-creator of the best-selling Unlock Your Hip Flexors program. Rick creates exercise programs that help people heal injuries and eliminate pain, so they can go back to living a full, active, healthy life.