When food is chewed and swallowed, it passes through the esophagus or food-pipe and then into the stomach. The sphincter or elastic band at the junction of the lower esophagus and entrance of the stomach allows the food into the stomach. The sphincter closes in such a way that it does not allow the contents to flow back. The contents are mixed with acidic juices of the stomach and undergo initial digestion.
Improper closure or any disturbance of the sphincter at the junction of the lower end of the food-pipe and the upper end of the stomach allows the acidic food mixture to return from the stomach to the esophagus (food pipe). This causes symptoms of heartburn and acidity.
What Causes Acid Reflux Disease / GERD?
- Most common cause of GERD is improper diet or irregular eating habits.
- Certain food items like chocolates, fried foods, etc can trigger acid reflux.
- Sugary beverages, carbonated drinks, coffee and alcohol are also known to cause reflux.
- Smoking cigarettes relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, thus allowing the return of the contents of the stomach to the lower esophagus.
- Hiatal hernia is also known to cause GERD. This occurs when a small part of the stomach protrudes into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm.
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux Disease / GERD
Acid reflux is known to affect children and adults alike. With the current era of fast lifestyle, erratic eating habits and picking up food on the go, the stomach acids are bound to retort. Natural remedies can be adopted that can also work as a cure for acid reflux disease.
A few dietary changes and tips can be followed to overcome the problem.
What, How and When of eating: Tip – Keep a diary of what and when you eat.
|a. Eat more fiber|
b. Avoid food that triggers acidity, like citrus fruits and high fat food
c. Avoid sweets, sugary drinks and chocolates as they cause fermentation in the stomach and trigger acid production
|a. Eat slowly taking smaller bites|
b. Chew the food properly and allow it to mix well with saliva before swallowing.
|a. Eat at least 2 hours before bedtime.|
b. Eat on time; eat more frequent, smaller sized meals.
Drink enough water: Consume at least 3-4 liters of water every day. Water increases the production of saliva, neutralizes the acidity in the stomach and allows the food to travel through the digestive system in a smooth manner.
Chewing gum: When you are chewing a gum, a lot of saliva is produced and swallowed. The saliva has a neutralizing effect on the acids of the stomach. Be sure to choose on a non-sugary gum to chew. Chewing gum after meals can help in preventing the acidity.
Herbal tea: Green tea made from mint, fenugreek, gingerroot or chamomile can help soothe the stomach acids. Have them half an hour before meals.
Avoid smoking and alcohol: Smoking is known to have a relaxing effect on the sphincter that prevents food to be pushed back to the esophagus. Alcohol is known to increase the production of acid in the stomach. Avoiding these habits can make you healthy in more than one way.
Maintain healthy weight: Excess pounds exert pressure on the abdomen and the stomach and cause the contents to be pushed back to the esophagus. Maintaining healthy weight also involves eating right, causing less strain on the stomach.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes: When clothes around the waist are tightened up, the stomach is squeezed, forcing the lower esophageal sphincter to open the wrong way up. This causes the contents also to be pushed the wrong way up leading to acidity and heartburn.
Don’t lie down immediately after a meal: Do not lie down for at least 2 hours after a meal. The ingested food usually stays in the stomach for up to 2 hours after meal. Once it passes the stomach, it is safe to lie down.
Don’t take up heavy physical activity immediately after meals: When we eat our meals, the blood flow is increased towards the abdomen to support peristalsis. The peristaltic movements of the digestive tract force the food downward. If we exercise after meals, the blood flow to these muscles is reduced and digestion takes place at a slower rate, eventually resulting in acidity.
Sleep with head in elevated position: Raise the head position up to 6 inches when sleeping to avoid the reflux of the food from stomach.
Be stress-free: Take time to relax through sports, leisure activities, yoga or meditation. Stress has known to trigger acidity and heartburn and cause indigestion. This could be due to emotional-overeating or losing appetite due to work pressures.
Sleep on the left side: Sleeping on the right side creates additional pressure on the stomach causing the reflux and increase GERD symptoms. Sleeping on the left-side can relieve the pressure.
Foods that Help Buffer Stomach Acids
|What to eat/drink||How to take|
|Apple or banana||An apple or banana once a day, keeps acidity away|
|Yellow mustard paste||One tablespoon during an acid reflux attack|
|Almonds||About 4 almonds after a meal|
|Aloe juice||Half a cup of aloe juice before meals|
|Baking soda||Half a teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water during an acid reflux attack. Avoid frequent use of this remedy as it can cause nausea.|
|Apple cider vinegar||Three teaspoons of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water. Have it 15 minutes before a meal.|
|Slippery elm||Boil leaves of slippery elm in water and take it after meals and at bedtime.|