Gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD is a very common health problem affecting millions of people around the globe. This condition is also referred to as peptic ulcer disease or acid reflux. Although GERD is believed to be caused by excess amounts of acid in your stomach, it is usually caused by too little in the stomach. The main symptom of acid reflux happens to be a burning sensation that occurs in the chest and sometimes moves up to the throat. The pain may be excruciating sometimes that people may mistake it to be a heart attack.
Most of the medications intended to treat gastro esophageal reflux disease actually do more harm than good. These medications primarily work by blocking the production of acid in the stomach. Even though they succeed in providing temporary relief, you are likely to suffer from many side effects, including the risk of food poisoning. Luckily there are several natural and effective ways to treat acid reflux. This article explains some of these treatment methods that can cure your condition.
Avoid processed foods
The first thing that needs to be done in order to prevent acid reflux and heartburn is to maintain the natural gastric balance in the stomach. The intake of excessive amounts of sugars and processed foods can upset the bacterial balance in your stomach thus making your acid reflux worse. The ideal solution to these problems is to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, raw fruits and other kinds of unprocessed foods. It is also recommended to avoid food triggers such as alcohol, caffeine, etc.
Water and Acid Reflux
Drinking adequate water is must and healthy practice. Not drinking required water and for long interval, can trigger hyperacidity. As a healthy practice drink 2-3 litres of water in a day. Drinking water immediately after meals can hamper the digestion of food and can worsen acid reflux symptoms; and hence may be avoided.
[Read more about amazing benefits of drinking water]
Maintain a healthy weight
According to research, being overweight increases the risk of gastro esophageal reflux disease because the extra fat puts too much pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which will cause it to loosen and weaken over time.
The beneficial bacteria in your stomach help to eliminate H. pylori bacteria by balancing the bowel flora. It also supports proper digestion and absorption of food by your body. So it is important to eat foods that can provide you with these beneficial bacteria. You can get probiotics from fermented foods such as chutneys, cultured dairy products, fermented vegetables etc.
Read more about benefits of probiotics
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient synthesized by your skin on exposure to sunlight. One of the most important roles of vitamin D is that it promotes the absorption of calcium by your body, thus regulating the calcium balance in your body. Calcium is an important mineral that is used to treat heartburn. Vitamin D is also important for getting rid of any kinds of infections in the body. An optimized level of vitamin D leads to increase in the production of hundreds of antimicrobial peptides that will help your body eliminate any infections.
The B group vitamins have been proven to help with acid reflux symptoms. Low levels of vitamin B2 and B6 levels are linked to an increased risk for acid reflux. According to research, B vitamins such as folic acid can reduce your risk of developing acid reflux. In fact it was found that the higher intake of folic acid reduced acid reflux by approximately 40 percent. You can increase your folate levels is by consuming a diet comprising of foods rich in folate such as spinach, asparagus, okra, beans and liver.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular remedies for acid reflux. It aids digestion by helping break down fats and also helps in balancing the production of acid in the stomach. Since acid reflux is usually caused from having insufficient amount of acid in your stomach, you can easily increase the acid levels of your stomach by taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar along with a large glass of water.
One teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water is an effective remedy for the heartburn caused by acid reflux. Baking soda is a base substance with a pH higher than 7.0 and hence can neutralize the stomach acids. However, do not take this as a long term remedy as it can cause side effects such as nausea and swelling.
Aloe vera juice
The gel of aloe vera plant is a popular remedy for treating burns. Aloe juice is effective in reducing inflammation and hence can help with heartburn. Half a cup of aloe vera juice just before meals is a great way to prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
Read more about benefits of aloe vera for skin
According to research, chewing on a piece of sugar free gum for half an hour can help provide relief from heartburn and the symptoms of GERD. This is because when you chew gum, it increases the salivary flow rate, which washes away any acid that may have accumulated in the gut. However, there is another school of thought is that chewing gum should be avoided as it increases amount of swallowed air leading to belching and acid reflux.
Licorice has healing properties and is considered to be helpful in eliminating heartburn. It contains a compound known as glycyrrhizin, which has pain relieving properties when ingested. This compound forms a mucous lining within the stomach that helps in blocking the burning sensation associated with acid reflux.
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Slippery elm is an herbal remedy that has been long used in the treatment of GERD. It contains antioxidants that can help in soothing inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm coats the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines and also stimulates nerve endings in your gastrointestinal tract, which in turn increases the secretion of mucus. The mucus protects your gastrointestinal tract against excess acidity and peptic ulcers.
Bananas are rich in natural antacids and are great for people suffering from acid reflux. The antacids act as a buffer against acid reflux and provide relief from heartburn. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, an alkalizing mineral that raises the pH of the stomach and reduce the excess acidity. Bananas also contain a chemical that is capable of stimulating the lining of the stomach into producing mucus that will help protect the stomach from too much acidity. Furthermore, the fiber in bananas speeds up the process of digestion and inhibits the production of excess acid. Green or not fully ripe bananas contains potassium in form of nitrates; eating them may contribute to acid reflux.
Apples are a great remedy that can be used for preventing the backing up of acid into the esophagus and thus soothing the symptoms of gastro esophageal reflux disease. They work by creating an alkaline environment in the stomach, thereby neutralizing excess acids and promoting proper digestion.
Fennel is a wonderful herb that has been long used in treating many digestive disorders such as indigestion, constipation, heartburn, flatulence and bloating. Studies indicate that fennel contains a large number of active components that provide soothing effects on the stomach. It has carminative properties, which soothe the digestive tract and reduce the formation of too much acid in the stomach. Chewing fennels seeds helps in heartburn and acid reflux.
Celery is an alkaline food that is considered to be a natural remedy for heartburn. It is a zero calorie food with high water content that helps to neutralize the acid in the stomach and alleviate the symptoms associated with acid reflux.
Parsley not only adds flavor to foods but is also a great remedy for acid reflux. It is also an alkaline food, which produce an alkaline balance and helps in neutralizing the acids to prevent heartburn. Parsley also contains an amino acid known as glutamine, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the intestine and acid reflux.
Ginger is known to have anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to cure various gastrointestinal problems. It also speeds up digestion prevents acid reflux. Ginger contains many essential oils and resins along with phenolic compounds that help in increasing the flow of bile and gastric secretions. Drinking ginger root tea will stimulate the production of saliva that helps to wash away the acid that has backed up into the esophagus.
Mustard is an alkalizing food that contains vinegar, which is a weak acid. The alkaline properties of mustard help in neutralizing the acid and provide relief from the symptoms of acid reflux. You might feel uncomfortable at first as the mustard travels down your esophagus, but it is sure to give you soothing results for acid reflux.
Another natural remedy for acid reflux is to eat a handful of raw almonds every day. Almonds are alkaline in nature and they help to balance the pH level of the body. They are also a good source of calcium, a mineral that is recommended for people suffering from GERD. Almonds have the ability to neutralize the acid in the stomach that is responsible for the burning sensation in the esophagus.
Sleeping immediately after dinner is a bad idea if you are suffering from GERD. Ensure that you sleep atleast 2hrs post dinner. Early dinner should also be good for acid reflux. During acid reflux, sleep with head in elevated position using pillow as wedge. Keeping head higher than stomach avoids acid from rising up the esophagus.
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Excess weight has higher chance that you suffer from GERD. Belly fat or omentum fat puts pressure on stomach causing acid to reflux. Unsure that you don’t gain weight. Exercise and Yoga helps not only to keep obesity at bay, but also keeps internal organs healthy.
Fiber rich foods
Never underestimate the power of fiber! Fiber rich food helps in digestion of food and reduces need for excess gastric acid. It also helps in excretion of toxins which may cause acid reflux and indigestion. Add some chia seeds or tukmaria seeds to your diet to pump in some fibers in your body.
Stress, be it physical or mental cause imbalance in body system. This imbalance could result in excess or deficient body enzymes and hormone. Eventually it leads to improper functioning of body metabolism. Meditation helps in distressing and regaining body balance. Regular yoga and meditation can help your reduce bouts of acid reflux.
Accupressure / Accupunure
These traditional techniques have been found to alleviate indigestion and GERD. In acupressure, points CV12 and CV6 are recommended for treating GERD. A study suggests that improper functioning of gastrointestinal tract leads to acid reflux and acupuncture can be effectively used in treating such gastrointestinal disorders.
- Avoid tight fitting clothes
- Bending or sleeping after meals should be avoided
- Eat small but frequent food portions
- Avoid coffee, cigarette, nicotine
- Avoid spicy food, processed citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, fatty foods and caffeinated soft drinks
- Some other things which may cause GERD includes Haital hernia, bacterial infection in stomach, thyroid disorder, asthma, candida yeast growth in stomach.
GERD in children: GERD is not just an adult disorder, but affects kids as well. Heartburn is most common symptom in children. Choking, wet hiccups, cough, throat hoarseness, chronic sinusitis, dental caries, sore throat, poor appetite, stomach aches, etc. are some other symptoms associated with GERD in kids.
Although over-the-counter medications can provide effective treatment for acid reflux, natural home remedies also might help as well as save you a trip to the pharmacy. However, the ultimate solution to gastro esophageal reflux disease is to change your diet and modify your lifestyle. These changes will help in restoring the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal system and relieve the symptoms of GERD. Not only are these methods inexpensive, and simple, they are effective in relieving the symptoms of GERD as well as in preventing its recurrences.