Acid Reflux is also known as heartburn, acid indigestion, or pyrosis. It happens when some of the acidic stomach contents go back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux creates a burning pain in the lower chest area, often after eating.
1. Heartburn: a burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat
2. Regurgitation: a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth
4. Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting
6. Dysphagia — a narrowing of your esophagus, which creates the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
7. Hiccups that don’t let up
9. Weight loss for no known reason
10. Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
Food that caused Acid Reflux:
Bad news for chocolate lovers: Chocolate seems to cause more reflux than any other food. It’s a triple whammy:
1. Chocolate contains caffeine and other stimulants such as theobromine, which cause reflux.
2. Chocolate is high in fat, and fat causes reflux.
3. Chocolate is also high in cocoa, and cocoa causes reflux.
Theoretically, dark chocolate isn’t as bad as high-fat milk chocolate, but let’s face it—all chocolate is bad for reflux.
Soda and other carbonated beverages are some of the main causes of acid reflux. The bubbles of carbonation expand inside the stomach, and the increased pressure contributes to reflux. Sodas with caffeine and those that are acidic (almost all) are even worse. Of the beverages that were tested, Coke, Tab, and Diet Pepsi were the most acidic. All carbonated beverages can be a problem, so the authors recommend abstaining completely to avoid acid reflux.
3. Fried Food
Fried food is the single most recognized cause of reflux. It is also the food most often associated with heartburn, which is chest pain from esophageal reflux.
Deep-fried (or even not-so-deep-fried) foods are on the “bad list” because of their high fat content.
Beer, liquor, and wine are believed to contribute to reflux. Many alcoholic beverages are not very acidic. However, alcohol is believed to relax the valve at the bottom of the esophagus (where it joins the stomach), leading to reflux. Abstain if you can; otherwise, have only one cocktail or glass of wine a day, and completely avoid acidic mixers like orange juice or soda.
5. High-Fat Dairy Products
All high-fat foods cause reflux. There is no reason to believe that one high-fat butter or cheese is better than another in this regard. If you have reflux and a serious cheese habit, something has to give.
6. High-Fat Meals
Acid reflux is caused by high-fat cuts of meat—beef, pork, lamb—which stay longer in the stomach and increase the chance of acid reflux.
One cup of coffee or espresso a day is fine, but people who drink coffee all day long are courting reflux—if they don’t have it already.
Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Diet and Lifestyle Changes?
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Quit smoking.
- Don’t eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
- Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
- Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts.
- If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight withexercise and diet changes.
- Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
- Heartburn tends to get worse at night, thanks to the fact that you’re lying down when you sleep. Gravity works against you, and it’s easier for the digested contents of your stomach to back up into your esophagus, along with acid. Try elevating your head about 6 inches when you sleep by placing bricks, books, or blocks under the legs at the head of your bed. You could also try a wedge-shaped pillow under your mattress, but don’t simply pile up extra pillows as it’s easy to slip off of them at night. Don’t lie down within 3-4 hours after eating, because lying down with a full stomach makes stomach contents press harder against your lower esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid tight fitting clothes. Things cinched tightly about your waist or middle can worsen heartburn. If you have super tight jeans on, when you sit down, the waistband is going to sink into your abdomen region. Same goes for tight belts-and even shirts can be a problem for some. This is because all of the above puts extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, which make it more likely stomach contents, will push through and you’ll experience reflux.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Food that fight Acid Reflux:
Oatmeal is just about the best breakfast and any-time-of-day snack recommended by The Reflux Diet. It’s filling and doesn’t cause reflux. Even instant oatmeal with raisins is “legal” because the oatmeal absorbs the acidity of the raisins.
In moderation, ginger is one of the best foods for acid reflux. It has been used throughout history as an anti-inflammatory and as a treatment for gastrointestinal conditions. Ginger root can easily be peeled, sliced, diced, or shaved using a grater. You can use it while cooking or add it to smoothies. Sipping a cup of fresh tea about 20 minutes before a meal can help calm down your tummy and act as an acid buffer.
You will need…
-3 quarter sized slices of ginger root
-2 cups of water
Slice up 3 quarter sized pieces of ginger root and simmer gently in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger pieces, or leave them in, pour into a glass, and drink all of it about 20 minutes before a meal.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is famous as a natural healing agent and also seems to treat acid reflux. It is available as a living plant, but the leaves or liquid form are sometimes sold separately in groceries and health-food stores. Aloe vera can be used in recipes as a thickener and for congealing liquids.
You could do worse than to eat a salad every day. Salad is a primary meal for acid refluxers, although tomatoes and onions should be avoided, as well as cheese and high-fat dressings. Dressings that have some acid or fat can be added, but only one tablespoon (or less)—as measured, not guesstimated!
Bananas make a great snack, and at pH 5.6, they’re usually great for people with acid reflux. However, about 1% of acid refluxers find that their condition is worsened by bananas. So keep in mind that what works for most people may not work for you.
Melon (pH 6.1) is good for acid reflux. However, as with bananas, a small percentage (1% to 2%) of those with acid reflux need to avoid it. Also included in the good-for-reflux category are honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Fennel (pH 6.9) is a great food for acid reflux and actually seems to improve stomach function. This crunchy vegetable has a unique taste—a mild licorice flavor. Sliced thin (the white bottom part), it makes a healthy salad with arugula and baby spinach. It’s also great in chicken dishes, and makes a fine snack if you love the taste.
8. Chicken and Turkey
Poultry is a staple of The Reflux Diet. It can be boiled, baked, grilled, or sautéed (but not fried!), and you must remove the skin, which is high in fat.
9. Fish and Seafood
Seafood is another staple of The Reflux Diet. It should be baked, grilled, or sautéed, never fried. Shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish are also fine on this diet. Wild fish, not the farm-raised variety, is recommended.
10. Roots and Greens
Cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, and other greens are all great foods for the acid refluxer. Pretty much all of the green and the root vegetables are recommended for people following this diet.
Celery has almost no calories because of its high water content, and is a good choice if you have acid reflux. It is also an appetite suppressant and excellent source of roughage.
For thousands of years, parsley has been used as a medicinal herb to settle the stomach and aid digestion. Flat-leaf and curly parsley are widely available, and they make a great seasoning and garnish.
13. Couscous and Rice
Couscous (semolina wheat), bulgur wheat, and rice (especially brown rice) are all outstanding foods for acid reflux. A complex carbohydrate is a good carbohydrate!
14. Baking Soda
A spoonful of sodium bicarbonate, or teaspoon-full to be exact, can help put an end to the gnawing, burning, sensation of heartburn caused by acid reflux. Baking soda, as sodium bicarbonate is more commonly known, can help your reflux and in turn help your heartburn because it is a base substance. It has a pH higher than 7.0, and therefore neutralizes stomach acid. Neutralizing the stomach acid means that if/when your LES decides to be lazy and acid comes up your throat, you don’t get “burned.”
You will need…
-1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of baking soda
-a glass of fresh water
Mix either a ½ teaspoon or 1 single teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water that is no more than 8 ounces. Give it a good stir and drink all of the mixture. You can repeat this as needed but should not exceed seven ½ teaspoon doses in a 24 hour period. Also, avoid using this as a remedy for more than a week straight, as it is high in salt and can have side effects such as swelling or nausea.
15. Chew Gum
The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, experienced relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva. Any acid that has built up in the gut is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD. It is possible that the same school of thought could be applied to occasional heartburn as well. It’s our regular saliva that we swallow that actually makes normal bouts of reflux here and there completely painless.
You will need…
-1 piece of sugar-free gum
After a meal, pop in a piece of sugar-free gum and chew for 30 minutes to help ward off heartburn.
Mustard is an alkalizing food that is full of minerals, and contains a weak acid in the form of vinegar. Consuming mustard straight, while it may make you grimace at first, may ultimately end up making your smile. Because of its alkaline properties, it will help neutralize the acid that may come creeping up your throat, and therefore may neutralize the pain of acid reflux. It seems to be the most helpful if you’re feeling a bout of heartburn creeping up, or if you’re in the midst of one.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of good quality yellow mustard
Muster up some courage, and just take that little sucker straight.
A natural remedy for heartburn from Reader’s Digest, eat some almonds after every meal, every snack, every time you ingest something basically. Try to track down organic almonds if possible. These tasty nuts do something to seemingly neutralize the juices in your stomach, relieving and preventing some instances of heartburn.
You will need…
-3 to 4 almonds
Directly after every meal, every snack, basically every time you ingest something, eat 3-4 almonds afterwards. There’s no need to eat more, unless of course you want to munch on some more, but keep in mind that in excess some people have found almonds trigger heartburn, kind of like how they help tension headaches but can trigger migraines.
Having a spot of chamomile tea about ½ – 1 hour before you plan on going to sleep can help reduce inflammation in your stomach, and possibly balance out the acidity levels as well. It also does wonders for relieving stress, which can trigger acid reflux, and will help you sleep through the night as well. You can use instant chamomile tea, or you can easily make your own fresh.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon dried chamomile flower petals
-1 cup of boiling water
-Honey or lemon (optional)
Boil one cup of water in a cooking pot, and then reduce the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile petals, and let them simmer for 45 seconds. Remove from heat and let the petals soak for another minute or two before straining them. Pour the tea into a mug, and add a bit of honey or lemon if you wish.
19. Slippery Elm
Despite limited research, slippery elm has been used in herbal remedies for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses, including GERD symptoms. This tree extract thickens the layer of mucous lining the stomach, says Dr. Blum, creating a stronger barrier against acid.
“[Slippery elm] is a demulcent that offers a coating or protective layer to the tissue [of the stomach],” Dr. Sierpina says. “The way slippery elm has traditionally been prescribed is a couple tablespoons in water after meals and at bedtime.”