Acid reflux is a common problem that is also referred to as heartburn. If you are experiencing acid reflux more than twice a week then it will be known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this case, heartburn is one of the symptoms, further symptoms are chest pain, coughing, hiccups, and a metallic taste in the mouth. At first, over-the-country (OTC) medicines like antacids are used to treat GERD, and then you have to change your lifestyle and diet. Prescription medicines are required for most severe cases to prevent esophagus damage. To help the people who are suffering from painful and uncomfortable GERD symptoms, doctors also recommend some home remedies. During the home remedies for GERD, people should avoid food triggers, early dinner, and eating small meals will provide better relief from GERD symptoms.
One commonly used natural remedy for GERD symptoms is calcium. It is also an active ingredient in most over-the-country medicines for GERD. Without taking any remedies for GERD, it will cause some serious health problems like inflammation, peptic ulcer and sometimes it leads to cancer.
What causes GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a severe condition of acid reflux. It will occur when the acid in the stomach rises in the food pipe or esophagus. It will cause a heart-burning sensation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
Home Remedies for GERD
There are some effective home remedies used to soothe heartburn. The results of these remedies differ from person to person who is suffering from GERD.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is considered a good remedy for some people, but it makes it worse for others. Consuming one tsp of apple cider vinegar with water will help to reduce the acidity level in the stomach, but it does not have any scientific proof. While consuming a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar, it is completely safe to try for acid reflux.
Chewing Gum after meals
A study conducted in 2005 proves that chewing sugar-free gum after the meal will increase the swallowing frequency. Chewing the sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after the meal will help to reduce the acid level in the food pipe. According to the study, chewing gum will stimulate salivary glands that increase the secretion of saliva. Saliva will help to wash out the acids.
Chewing one piece of sugar-free gum after the meal is the simplest and notable remedy. But using peppermint gum will make worse symptoms for some people. If you are not able to tolerate the flavors of spearmint and peppermint, you can avoid it.
Bananas naturally have antacid properties, so they will effectively help to prevent acid reflux. Eating a banana after the meal will be gentle on the digestive system, and the vitamins in the banana will help to stop gastrointestinal spasms. Eating bananas will reduce discomfort and heartburn. There are some other fruits like cantaloupe, apple, honeydew, and watermelon that also help to reduce GERD symptoms. Make sure that you avoid high acidic fruits like grapes, orange, and pineapple.
Aloe vera Juice
The aloe vera gel is well known for soothing sunburn. Some people consume aloe vera to reduce stomach acid and calm irritation. Anyhow, there is no research that proves that aloe vera will help to treat heartburn.
Consuming one tsp of baking soda will help to neutralize the stomach acid level, so won’t feel any burning sensation. Drinking the one tsp of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water will help to treat GERD, it also acts as an over-the-country antacid. Repeat it as your need for a better result, but make sure that you are not repeating more than 7 doses per day. Moreover, it is better to avoid home remedies for more than a week to avoid the side effects like nausea and swelling because of the high salt content.
Peppermint will help to soothe your stomach, so you may feel better while taking it. Anyhow, peppermint also increases the acid reflux for some people, because it will loosen the muscle that is kept liquid. If you feel that peppermint is good for GERD symptoms, you can try it as tea or taking a peppermint pill. But, if it increases the acid reflux then you should try some ginger.
Ginger helps to calm and reduce inflammation in your stomach, so ginger is considered an excellent stomach ailment for chronic acid reflux, nausea, and common stomach aches. If you want to sip the full flavor of ginger in your tea, you have to prepare a tea with simmer slices of ginger root. Boiling the ginger root in the water for 30 minutes will give an excellent flavor to the tea. If you want to get maximum benefit, you can consume this tea before the meal that gives maximum impact against GERD as a home remedy.
Drinking a cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes before going to bed will help to balance the acidity level in the stomach. Chamomile will help to reduce the stress level that plays an important role in heartburn problems. Instant chamomile tea is available in the markets or you can also prepare it with fresh herbs. Simply boil the water and stir the chamomile petals in the water and allow it to boil for 45 minutes in a simmer. Strain the petals out from the tea, adding lemon or honey will give some flavor to the tea.
A study conducted in 2014 proves that consuming licorice will help to soothe the symptoms of gastric inflammation. It will give better relief for the people who are suffering from GERD. Anyhow, some medicinal properties of licorice also cause some side effects like high blood pressure. So licorice is an optional herb for GERD symptoms.
Mustard is a powerhouse of minerals that contains vinegar. It also contains a good amount of alkaline that helps to neutralize the acid, which causes GERD. If you feel any GERD symptoms like heartburn, you can consume 1 tsp of mustard that gives good relief from that problem.
Avoid Raw Onion
One study conducted with people who have acid reflux proves that consuming raw onion will increase acid reflux, heartburn, and belching compared with consuming a meal that does not contain onion. Due to the presence of the high amount of fermentable fiber in the onion, it causes frequent belching. Consuming raw onion also irritates the esophagus line that worsens the heartburn. However, if you feel that consuming raw onion will worsen the GERD symptoms then it is better to avoid it.
Avoid Citrus Juices
A study conducted with 400 GERD patients proves that consuming citrus juices like orange, lemon, and grape juices will worsen acid reflux symptoms. The acid level in citrus fruits is not the only reason for the GERD symptoms. But the orange juice with neutral pH will worsen the symptoms. Citrus juice does not weaken the esophageal sphincter, so some of the components will irritate the esophagus line. Citrus juice does not cause acid reflux, but it worsens the GERD symptoms, so the people who are suffering from GERD are better to avoid citrus juices.
Avoid Carbonated Beverages
Doctors advise GERD patients to avoid carbonated beverages. One observational study proves that drinking carbonated soft drinks will increase GERD symptoms. Moreover, compared with plain water drinking carbonated cola or drinks will temporarily weaken the esophageal sphincter. The main reason for this problem is the carbon dioxide gas in the carbonated beverages will worsen the belch by increasing the amount of acid releasing in the esophagus.
Consuming coffee will temporarily weaken the esophageal sphincter that increases the risk of acid reflux. There is some logical point towards caffeine why we should avoid coffee. Similarly, caffeine also weakens the esophageal sphincter. Moreover, drinking caffeine-free coffee will help to reduce acid reflux compared to normal coffee. In one study, giving caffeine in the water to the participants to see that if caffeine makes any impact on reflux, even coffee worsens the symptoms. It proves that caffeine plays a major role in coffee to worsen acid reflux. The preparation and processing is also making some impact on the GERD symptoms. However, several studies prove that coffee worsens acid reflux. But one study says, consuming coffee after the meal will not cause any adverse effect on acid reflux patients. Consuming coffee is related to the huge acid damage in the esophagus. Anyhow, consuming coffee worse the acid reflux depends on individuals, so if you feel that intaking the coffee is worse the GERD symptoms, simply you can avoid it.
Intake of alcohol may worsen heartburn and acid reflux. The symptoms will be irritative by increasing the acids in the stomach, weakening the esophageal sphincter, and impairing the esophagus ability to clear the acid itself. Studies prove that consuming moderate levels of alcohol will cause reflux symptoms in healthy people. Moreover, consuming beer or wine is also worse reflux symptoms when compared to intaking plain water.
According to the study, smoking is also connected with GERD symptoms. One study conducted with GERD people proves that quitting smoking will help to reduce GERD symptoms. So doctors are suggesting quitting smoking to the people who have GERD. Smoking will damage the Lower esophageal sphincter that is responsible for preventing acids in the stomach from backing up. Smoking loosens the LES muscles, so it will worsen the heartburn symptoms.
Eat Fewer Chocolates
Sometimes doctors advise to avoid eating chocolates to GERD patients. Anyhow, it has very weak evidence. One study says that consuming 4 ounces of chocolate syrup will weaken the lower esophageal sphincter. Another study says intaking chocolate beverages will increase the acid in the esophagus when compared to the placebo. Further studies require strong evidence for chocolate’s effect on GERD symptoms. Anyhow, few studies suggested limiting the consumption of chocolate to reduce acid reflux.
Follow Low-Carb Diet
Most studies prove that a low-carb diet will provide better relief from acid reflux symptoms. Researchers doubted that undigested carbs may overgrowth the bacterias and increase the pressure in the abdomen. Scientists guess that this may be one of the reasons for acid reflux. Studies prove that bacterial overgrowth is caused by impaired carb absorption and digestion. Having a lot of undigested carbohydrates in the digestive system will make you feel bloated and gassy. It also leads to making you belch. Doing some research about this idea indicates that a low-carb diet will reduce GERD symptoms. Moreover, the antibiotic treatment also helps to reduce acid reflux, and also it reduces the gas-producing bacterias in the stomach. In one research, scientists give prebiotic fiber supplements to GERD patients that promote gas-producing bacterial growth. Due to this reason, the GERD patient’s reflux symptoms are worse, it proves that consuming low-carb foods will help to ease GERD symptoms.
Add High Fiber Foods
Fiber is an important substance to balance our diet. It will help to make the person feel full after the meal and helps to digestion, soothing the acid reflux symptoms. It is better to add some fiber-rich foods to the meal. Porridge oats, whole-wheat breakfast cereals, granary bread, bulgur wheat, 100% whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, potato skin, broccoli, garbanzo beans are some of the foods that contain rich fiber.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Having a balanced diet will help to maintain general health and it will help to manage body health. Some research proves that obesity is connected with the risk of increasing acid reflux. The diaphragm muscle is located above the stomach. For healthy people, this diaphragm muscle strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle will help to prevent the leaking of excess amounts of stomach acid in the esophagus.
Anyhow, if you have too much fat in the belly, the abdomen pressure will be too high that will push the lower esophageal sphincter in an upward position, making it away from the diaphragm’s support. It is known as hiatus hernia. Hiatus hernia is the main reason for pregnant women and obese people at risk of heartburn and reflux. Several studies prove that extra weight in the abdomen will increase the risk of GERD. Maintaining a healthy weight will help to get better relief from reflux symptoms.
Avoid Food Triggers
There are some drinks and foods that trigger acid reflux, so it is better to avoid those foods. Those foods will increase the production of stomach acids or reduce the LES ability to stop the acid from flowing in the esophagus. Avoiding these food triggers in the diet will help people to reduce GERD symptoms. Tomato, spicy foods, fatty foods, and dairy products are some of the foods that trigger GERD symptoms.
Avoid Tight Clothes
There is nothing wrong with wearing tight clothes until you are experiencing GERD symptoms. Wearing tight clothes also has the chance of worse GERD symptoms. It is caused when you are wearing tight belts and bottoms. Putting unnecessary things on the abdomen will increase heartburn risk. Wearing loose clothes will help to reduce the risk of acid reflux.
Practice Relaxing Exercises
Suffering from GERD is very stressful. The esophageal muscles play a major role to keep the stomach acid down. Learning some exercises to ease the esophageal muscles will help to calm both mind and body. Yoga gives numerous benefits that promote the awareness of your body and mind. If you are not the person doing yoga then you can try meditation and deep breathing for a few minutes that reduce your stress level.
Research conducted in the year 2020 proves that GERD patients doing breathing exercises will help to ease symptoms. Breathing exercise also reduces the need for acid-suppressing medicines and improves the quality of our life. Breathing exercise is also called belly breathing that helps to ease GERD symptoms. You can practice this exercise in standing, sitting, and lying down positions by the following steps.
- Put one hand below the ribs and the other hands on the chest.
- Breath deeply through the nose. The belly will rise and push the hand up. Keep the chest in a stable position.
- Breathe out as slowly as possible through the lips.
- Let the hand on the belly sink down as breath leaves the body.
- Repeat slowly 3 to 10 times.
What To Do During And After Meal For GERD?
Apart from the food people are eating, the way of eating also has some impact on acid reflux. The International Foundation For Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recommended eating habits to reduce GERD symptoms.
Eat Small Meal
Eating a large meal will slowly empty your stomach, so it will put more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and makes the GERD symptoms worse. To prevent these symptoms, people who have GERD can eat a small meal that will be digested more quickly than the large meal.
Eat Big Meal Early
Eating small snacks before going to bed also causes GERD symptoms like acid reflux overnight. This will occur by changing the posture at the time of our body trying to digest. To avoid this problem, people can eat their bigger meal at lunchtime and eat a lighter meal at dinner. It is also better to have an early dinner rather than having it before bedtime. Hence, our body has more time to digest food.
Eating in a Calm Environment
You should make sure that you are eating in a calm environment that helps with quick digestion. Extra stress will tense up the muscles that worse the GERD symptoms.
Focus On Eating During Meal
People should avoid any physical activities during meals. It includes frequently going to the kitchen, tending to children during eating.
After The Meal
The activities and the postures after the meal also affected the digestion of the person. The IFFGD is suggested to do after the meal that helps to reduce GERD symptoms.
Gravity helps to reduce acid reflux, so maintaining the upright position after the meal for some time will help to reduce heartburn. Hence, people should avoid taking naps after the meal.
Elevate the head after the meal
If you feel any GERD symptoms while sleeping, you should try to change your sleeping position, so the esophagus will be above the stomach. For Example, if you are set wedge under the head of the bed that will elevate your head. It allows their esophagus to be higher than their bed.
Avoid Extra Activities After Meal
It is better to not involve any physical activities after the meal. It will contract with the abdominal muscles, which will force the food back up in the esophagus and cause heartburn. Especially, people should avoid bending over tasks like lifting objects and doing floor cleaning.
Treatments For GERD
In case, any home remedies do not work for GERD then you can go for hospitalizing treatment. Doctors suggested some medications, in some serious cases they prefer surgeries.
The NIDDK suggested some medicines for GERD. Here is the following list:
H2 Blockers: This drug will help to lower the production of acid in the stomach.
Antacids: Doctors are recommended over-the-counter antacids to get relief from mild GERD symptoms. This drug is not for severe GERD symptoms or for daily use. You should consult with your doctor before using it.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Doctors suggested this drug for long-term GERD treatment. This drug will lower the production of acid in the stomach, which is more effective than H2 blockers.
If the medicines do not reduce the GERD symptoms, you can try surgery. The NIDDK will suggest some surgeries for GERD patients.
Bariatric Surgery: This procedure is also known as weight loss surgery. It is gastric bypass surgery. Doctors suggested this surgery for GERD patients who have obesity.
Fundoplication: This is the most common type of surgery for GERD. During this surgery, doctors sewed the top of the stomach to the end of the esophagus. This will increase the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and soothe acid reflux.
Endoscopy: In some rare cases, doctors suggest this method. During this surgery, doctors insert a tube with an attached camera and then start the treatment.
Usually, home remedies help to ease the GERD symptoms. When uncontrolled acid reflux will occur, you will put yourself at the risk of esophageal damage. It may cause narrowed esophagus, ulcer, and esophageal cancer. It is very important to know, if the home remedies do not work for GERD, you have to talk with your gastroenterologist for further treatment.