How to Prevent Acid Reflux & Heartburn Naturally
It could have been that one last chicken wing, or perhaps the after-dinner drink… It could even have been that you ate your dinner later than usual. Whatever the reason, the burning and discomfit that accompanies acid reflux and heartburn isn’t going anywhere any time soon. If you occasionally experience the effects of acid reflux and heartburn, you are not alone. Statistics suggest “heartburn affects more than 60 million Americans at least once a month.”
What Causes Acid Reflux and Heartburn?
But what exactly causes the uncomfortable feeling experienced with acid reflux and heartburn? As it turns out, acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, irritating the tissue. Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is then a symptom of acid reflux occurring. Normally when you swallow, a band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then the muscle tightens again. If this muscle relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This then can result in acid reflux and heartburn.
This reaction is characterized by a burning or discomfort in the center of your chest. It may also possibly involve a sour, bitter, or acidic taste in the back of the throat. The discomfort is typically worse after you’ve eaten, when lying down, or later in the evening. And although the discomfort is typically not a reason for concern, it can be irritating.
7 Keys to Prevent Acid Reflux
Luckily, the cause for acid reflux and heartburn can typically be pinpointed. Better yet, there are preventative measures, which can help people better avoid and prevent acid reflux and occasional heartburn. Here are some of the main causes to avoid:
1. Food Triggers
Certain foods and drinks can trigger heartburn in some people. Chocolate, fried foods, mint products, carbonated drinks, citrus, tomatoes, onions, and spices are common culprits.
2. Alcohol and Caffeine
Because they boost stomach acidity, alcohol and caffeine can aggravate the stomach and esophagus.
3. Large Meals
Smaller portioned meals can be easier for the stomach to digest and produce less stomach acid.
4. Eating Before Bed
As a rule of thumb, wait about three hours between your last meal and bedtime to allow digestion to occur and the stomach contents to move into the small intestine.
Smoking is all-around destructive to health, and it is also a well-known trigger for heartburn.
6. Excess Weight
Extra body weight can put mechanical pressure on your stomach and can slow stomach emptying.
7. Pain Relievers
Many pain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can trigger heartburn. Understanding how your body reacts to pain relievers and when is the best time to take them can help stop heartburn.
Natural Ways to Relieve Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Regardless of the above efforts, you can’t help the fact that sometimes acid reflux and heartburn can sneak up on you. When this happens, you want to find relief and find it fast.
There are many over-the-counter remedies for acid reflux and heartburn claiming to help you fight back. Unfortunately, these seem to be packed with unwanted side effects. Some have even been linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, increased risk of heart and kidney disease, and a decrease in cognitive function.
So, if acid reflux and heartburn creep up on you, you may want to try some of these natural remedies first before reaching inside the medicine cabinet.
1. Stand Up Straight
An upright posture puts less pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle that helps stop stomach acid from rising into your esophagus).
2. Elevating the Upper Body
Lying down can make heartburn worse. Adjusting your sleeping position to elevate your upper body, from the waist up, six to eight inches makes it less likely for the stomach acid to come back up into the esophagus.
3. Baking Soda + Water
Baking soda can calm some episodes of heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid.
Ginger may reduce inflammation as well as the likelihood of stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus.
Licorice might help increase the mucous coating of your esophageal lining, which may protect your esophagus from damage caused by stomach acid.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a remedy that some people use to treat heartburn, believing that it may neutralize stomach acid.
7. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and swallowing, which might help dilute and clear stomach acid from your esophagus.
How to Prevent Acid Reflux: A Recap
Despite these remedies, if you’re experiencing heartburn at an increased frequency, talk to your doctor. If heartburn occurs frequently and interferes with your routine, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Nevertheless, occasional acid reflux and heartburn are common conditions many American’s encounter. And with the help of simple lifestyle changes, you may take charge in helping prevent acid reflux and heartburn from occurring altogether.