Acid reflux is often a misunderstood condition which, if left unchecked, can lead to many issues. It can destroy tooth enamel and also cause asthma, chronic sinusitis and bronchitis as well as GERD and, in extreme cases, throat cancer. Over the counter and prescription medicines for acid reflux can further put your health at a risk. Prolonged use of antacids destroys stomach bacteria that are needed for healthy digestion. Also, many OTC antacids only mask acid reflux symptoms and do not provide long term relief. Thankfully, there are some changes you can make in your lifestyle and diet to substantially reduce, if not heal, your acid reflux. Use the following home remedies alongside conventional medication for heartburn relief.
1. Apple cider vinegar
Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar with ‘mother’ enzymes is known to prevent burping, gas and indigestion. It helps balance digestive enzymes and stimulates flow of the stomach juices and saliva. Before meals, sip 1/3rd tsp of Apple cider vinegar. Hold the vinegar in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. This will stimulate saliva and also cause stomach juices to flow faster. Daily intake of apple cider vinegar can improve digestion considerably and also give you overall better health.
2. Avoid going to bed on a full stomach
Acid reflux symptoms like stomach pain, burning in the throat, esophageal tightening and burping often tend to increase when you go to bed immediately after meals. Always wait for 2 hours before lying down. This will allow your stomach to digest the meal. Also sleep sensibly: raise the bed about 6-8 inches towards the head end so the acid stays down.
3. Limit fluid intake at meal times
The more fluids you drink during your meals, the more the food inside the stomach will swell, causing the acids to flow back into the esophagus. To avoid this, it is always better to drink water/fluids an hour before meals. You can also walk a bit after meals and then drink fluids half an hour after eating. This will enhance digestion and prevent food from swelling up.
4. Keep portion sizes small
Instead of eating 3 large meals, it is better to eat 4-6 smaller meals. This is also one of the best home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy. It will help if you can train your stomach to accept smaller portions. Of course, pregnant women tend to feel hungry, so smaller meals consisting of non citrusy fruits, nuts, crackers etc can help. Training the brain to stop eating once full can also help. Get in the habit of asking yourself the question: ‘Am I still hungry?’ to prevent over eating. Smaller food portions also ease the digestion process and prevent excess acid production. Also chew food slowly and thoroughly instead of eating hurriedly.
5. Lay off the fat
Cut your intake of fatty, greasy, deep fried foods as they relax the LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter. Once the LES is relaxed, it opens up allowing acids to flow backwards into the throat causing heartburn, burping and other acid reflux symptoms. So only eat deep fried foods like bacon as occasional treats if you suffer frequently from heartburn and GERD.
6. Take cinnamon after meals
Cinnamon is a great home remedy for heartburn relief. It stimulates saliva and neutralized stomach acids. Cinnamon also slows down the digestion and prevents food from rushing into the LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter. This can prevent acid reflux symptoms.
7. Chew on fennel seeds
Fennel is one of the best herbal remedies that improve digestion. You can chew the seeds or make fennel tea by steeping them in boiling water. Drink the tea post meals or any time during the day. Herbalists believe that the volatile oils in fennel aid digestion and soothe heartburn.
8. Try cardamom
One of the best home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy is cardamom. Ladies can chew on cardamom pods after meals-they also act as natural breath freshener. Alternatively, add the pods to hot water and steep them for a few minutes. Drink this hot tea 2 times a day to get relief from heartburn, gas and indigestion.
9. Drink canola oil
To soothe heartburn instantly, drink a teaspoon of canola oil. The oil will help coat the esophagus and prevent burning, pain and tightness of throat. It is a great remedy for inflammation and protects the lining of the esophagus from wear and tear caused by the acid.
10. Lose weight and wear loose clothes
Easier said than done, but this is perhaps the best ways to get rid of acid reflux in throat. Even a tiny bit of weight loss can help. To lose weight: go for daily walks, breathe deeply and limit your food portions. Check out other useful articles on Weight Loss. Weight loss can also loosen the clothes around your waistline which keep pressure off the stomach. Tight clothing tends to pressurize the stomach causing heartburn, flatulence and gas. Wear clothes with a generous waistband and switch from a belt to suspenders to prevent heartburn.
11. Try ginger tea
Ginger is a great herbal remedy for improving digestion. It relaxes the muscles lining the inner walls of the esophagus and discourages them from carrying the acid upwards into the throat. Steep some ginger tea using a tea bag (or boil fresh/dried ginger root in water). Drink this tea 2-3 times a day. Do not drink ginger tea if you have gallstones as it can increase bile production.
12. Use soda bicarbonate
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a great remedy for heartburn relief. In case you are wondering what to drink heartburn relief, use the following remedy: Add 1 tsp of baking soda to 4-6 ounces of fresh drinking water. Drink this once or twice a day to neutralize excess acids in stomach, esophagus and throat.
13. Watch what you eat
Caffeine increases acid output and lowers pressure on the LES, causing it to open. This leads to acid reflux symptoms like burping, chest tightness etc. You will find caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolates, and sodas and even in your migraine medicines. Foods like tomatoes, garlic, mint, fried, greasy foods mentioned above, alcohol, citrus fruits etc also relax the LES. High fiber foods and greasy foods are slow to empty from the stomach. People with heartburn tend to drink cold milk thinking it might help prevent their acid reflux symptoms. However, milk stimulates the stomach to produce more acid.
14. Quit smoking
Smokers often experience serious heartburn, cough and acid reflux symptoms. These symptoms can be attributed to nicotine in cigarettes which limit saliva production. Saliva is the natural defense against excess stomach acid. Smoking also makes the mouth very dry and inhibits proper digestion of food. Quit smoking today to get rid of acid reflux forever.
15. Move more
Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are usually at a greater risk of heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, and obesity. It is very important to move more, especially after eating. Running and vigorous exercise could irritate stomach lining and digestive tract. So walking is better for those who suffer from acid reflux frequently. Moderate, low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling etc can also work. Try to work in up to 30 minutes of low impact activities daily to improve digestion.
If heartburn and acid reflux symptoms are accompanied by chest pain, see a doctor immediately to rule out heart attack. Also, if your acid reflux symptoms do not clear up within a week, check with your doctor to rule out more serious underlying health issues.