Treating Acid Reflux (GERD) Naturally
Acid reflux is a health condition that causes harm to the esophageal lining in the throat. Acid reflux is also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. The symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, regurgitating food or liquid into the mouth, teeth and gum erosion due to stomach acid in the mouth and even symptoms like asthma, sore throat and a sharp stabbing pain that is often mistaken for a heart attack.
Acid reflux can be an occasional or temporary condition or the symptoms can affect your life for years, sometimes increasing in severity. If you don’t seek treatment and learn to control acid reflux it can lead to more severe health conditions which include esophageal cancer.
For an online acid reflux symptom quiz, see here.
There are many ways to treat acid reflux which include making some lifestyle changes, avoiding eating certain foods and even utilizing some natural options for healing and suppression of symptoms.
One of the most important things you can do in the natural treatment of acid reflux is to make some dietary adjustments. You need to learn which foods to avoid and which ones will actually reduce acid build up and aid your digestive system.
Foods to Avoid with Acid Reflux
Acidic fruits and juices are one of the worst choices if you suffer from acid reflux disease. Avoid tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits and lemons along with the juices of these fruits, including lemonade and cranberry juice. You should also stay away from tomato products like tomato sauce, red spaghetti sauce, catsup, etc.
There are many vegetables which can exacerbate acid reflux. This includes mashed potatoes, French fries and raw onions. You should also avoid garlic, chilies and hot peppers.
Meat Products to avoid include hamburger that is not designated as lean or extra-lean, chicken products like nuggets, fried chicken and any prepared meats with fat and spice like Buffalo wings. Fish with a high fat content like salmon and marbled meats like sirloin should also be avoided.
Dairy products like regular sour cream, cottage cheese, milk shakes or ice cream can exacerbate acid reflux.
Avoid spaghetti with red sauce and macaroni and cheese.
There are many beverages to avoid. Wine can really cause acid reflux as can other liquors. So can decaffeinated or regular coffee or tea. Peppermint tea can cause the valve between the esophagus and the stomach to relax, which allows the reflux of stomach contents into the throat.
Chocolate will also cause this valve to relax and should be avoided.
Choose alternates to creamy salad dressing or salad dressings made with acidic ingredients like vinegar. Butter cookies, doughnuts, corn chips and brownies can also cause acid reflux or heartburn.
Foods to Combat Acid Reflux
Many foods are either neutral, meaning they won’t trigger acid reflux and some will actually prevent or dissuade the build up of acid and other symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. These foods include:
- Apples and bananas are both great options fresh, dried or in juices. These fruits can help neutralize acid reflux.
- Mineral water can actually help neutralize acid so it serves as a great choice of beverage.
- Vegetables that can help combat acid reflux include broccoli and baked potatoes. Other options are carrots, cabbage, green beans and peas.
- Lean meats won’t exacerbate symptoms. Choose lean hamburger, chicken breast without the skin, egg whites and substitutes, lean varieties of fish and London broil steak.
- Fat-free versions of cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt and products like goat or soy cheese are good selections for acid reflux sufferers.
- Oatmeal, bran and other cereal grains are very good for acid reflux. So is brown and white rice, white or multi-grain bread, rice cakes, any graham cookies and also corn bread or pretzels.
- Other items like low-fat salad dressing, fat-free cookies, baked varieties of crackers or potato chips and sweet snacks like licorice or jelly beans, won’t aggravate acid reflux.
Lifestyle Do’s and Don’ts for Acid Reflux
Drinking milk before bed is a definitely a no-no. It is a misconception that milk will help acid reflux. Drinking milk before bed can actually increase acid in the stomach rendering it not recommended for those with GERD.
Don’t drink wine or beer several hours before going to bed. You may have to cut it out all together because Wine can cause acid reflux and beer can increase the amount of acid in your stomach to two times the normal amount within an hour.
If you need to drink something before bed, your best choice is water or apple juice. If you already have heartburn before you go to bed, drinking apple juice or eating an apple will really help reduce the amount of acid you have in your stomach.
Do drink water all throughout the day. It will help dilute stomach acid and help minimize heartburn. You should also drink one or two glasses after every meal and a small glass of water before you go to bed.
Don’t eat for three or four hours before you go to bed. As often as you can, eat four to six small meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones. Take time with each meal, chew your food and relax.
Being overweight can exacerbate and even cause acid reflux. Losing even a few pounds can make a big impact on reducing symptoms.
Natural Acid Reflux Remedies
There are some great natural treatments for acid reflux, including:
- Ginger in any form can reduce acid reflux. Candied ginger, ginger tea, ginger supplements, real ginger ale and any other type are great ways to combat heartburn and acid reflux.
- Chewing a couple of almonds after each meal can help eliminate acid reflux if you chew them thoroughly.
- Chamomile tea can soothe the digestive system, including the stomach.
- One of the best natural treatments for acid reflux is to mix a half a cup of organic apple cider vinegar with a half a cup of water, drinking it right before or right after a meal.