What is acid reflux/GERD?
Heartburn (acid reflux) can happen to anyone occasionally.
If you are experiencing heartburn more than twice a week, you may be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) says Mayo clinic. Other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease apart from heartburn include coughing and chest pain.
Over -the counter (OTC) medications such as antacids are the first line of treatment for GERD, and lifestyle or dietary changes. More severe cases may require prescription medications in other to prevent damage to the esophagus.
Conventional medicine is known as the most common form of treatment for GERD, but some home remedies can be used to reduce instances of acid reflux.
The following home remedies are helpful in the treatment of heartburn:
- Try herbal remedies
Herbal remedies are proven to be effective in the treatment of GERD, the following herbs have been proven to be effective in the treatment of GERD:
- Slippery elm
If you don’t have access to the above-listed herbs in plant form, they are available in supplement and tincture form; you can also get them in tea form.
Testimonies abound all over the internet about the efficacy of natural herbal remedies in combating the symptoms of GERD.
More studies are needed to prove that they can treat GERD effectively. It is advisable to check with your doctor before use to avoid interference with medications.
- Do away with tight clothing
There is nothing bad about putting on tight clothing except when you are experiencing symptoms of GERD.
Wearing tight clothes can lead to an increase in acid reflux episodes because they can place unnecessary pressure on the abdomen. A very tight button and belts can increase the risk of heartburn because of the pressure they place on the body (abdominal region). It is advisable to loosen up your clothing for the sake of acid reflux.
- Employ relaxation techniques
Practicing yoga meditation has lots of known benefits for the body, like promoting mind and body awareness. If yoga is not your thing, you can try quiet meditation and deep breathing several times a day for a few minutes to reduce your stress levels.
GERD itself is known to be very stressful because it places lots of stress on the body. Learning techniques that can help relax your body and mind may be helpful since stomach acids are kept down by esophageal muscles.
- Quit smoking
If you are suffering from GERD and you are a smoker, it is advisable to quit smoking.
It is a known fact that smoking has a damaging effect on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is known to prevent stomach acids from backing up. Weakened muscles of LES due to smoking can cause you to experience more frequent episodes of heartburn. Quitting smoking will make you feel better.
Second-hand smoke can be a problem if you are fighting acid reflux or GERD, it is also advisable to avoid second-hand smoke by all possible means.
- Watch your weight
More pressure is put on the stomach, especially the abdominal area if you have excess weight, this will put you at an increased risk of stomach acids moving back into the esophagus thereby causing heartburn.
While anyone can experience heartburn, overweight or obese people seem to have more episodes of GERD.
The Mayo Clinic advised that if you consider yourself overweight, a steady weight loss plan of 1 or 2 pounds per week will be of great advantage to you. People with a healthy weight should maintain it with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn
Certain foods and drinks are known to trigger and increase your risk for acid reflux no matter what your weight is. If you are suffering from GERD, you should be especially mindful of foods that can lead to symptoms.
The following foods and drinks should be avoided:
- Fried foods
- Citrus fruit juices
- Tomato sauce and other tomato related products
- Foods high in fat, such as greasy foods and fast food products
You may start experiencing fewer symptoms if you limit or avoid the above trigger foods and beverages.
- Eat helpful foods
It is important to avoid trigger foods, but it is more important to eat foods that can help alleviate acid reflux symptoms. A few dietary changes can be of the utmost benefit in combating the symptoms of GERD.
Low-fat, high protein meals are recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Getting enough protein and fiber will keep you full and help keep you from overeating, limiting dietary fat consumption will decrease your symptoms.
Chewing non-mint gum after each meal can help increase saliva in your mouth thereby keeping acid out of the esophagus.
- Eat a little portion of food, and sit up a little longer after eating
Eating a little portion of meals puts less pressure on the stomach; this will prevent the backflow of stomach acids. Try to eat smaller portions of food more frequently, it will help reduce heartburn and eat fewer calories overall.
Lying down immediately after eating is not advisable as this is unhealthy for you, doing so can trigger heartburn. Waiting for three hours after eating before lying down is recommended by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Try elevating your head with pillows once you go to bed to avoid nighttime heartburn.
A final note: I believe applying one or all of the above natural guides can help manage or reduce the symptoms of GERD.