When the acids in the stomach rise into the upper regions of the digestive tract, they can cause painful, debilitating symptoms. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acids frequently wash back into the esophagus that connects the stomach and food pipe. This is caused by excessive relaxation of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), a bundle of muscles that allows food and drink to flow downward into the stomach and then closes to prevent reflux. Relaxation of the LES allows a backwash of digestive acids.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) is a chronic form of the condition faced by people who experience acid reflux and heartburn more than twice a week. Over-the-counter medications are the first line of treatment, but other medications are prescribed if the symptoms persist.
Natural remedies and lifestyle changes
Some natural remedies and lifestyle changes can also help manage acid reflux and GERD effectively. It is important to make large-scale lifestyle changes as typical causes of this condition are a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, eating trigger foods that cause reflux, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits resulting in poor nutrition. Here are some natural remedies for effectively managing acid reflux and GERD:
- Eat smaller meals
It is wiser to eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than one big super-sized extravaganza or three large meals. This is known as “grazing” and prevents the buildup of harmful acids. Large meals tend to worsen reflux, and trigger foods for GERD can lead to chronic health issues.
- Eat slowly
Chewing your food well and ensuring that you activate the saliva in the mouth helps aids digestion. Eating slowly also tricks the brain into giving you a feeling of fullness, preventing overeating.
- Know the triggers
Acid reflux and GERD may be triggered by certain beverages, foods, and additives. These may be different for different people, but in general, citrus fruits, spicy/greasy/processed foods, and carbonated drinks can trigger a flare-up.
- Ensure an interval between eating and lying down
People who suffer from acid reflux or GERD must ensure that they maintain an interval of at least 3 hours between eating and going to bed. This is because stomach acids can remain in place due to gravity when you’re up and about.
- Avoid exercising immediately after eating
Vigorous exercise immediately after eating allows acids to rise into the upper digestive tract. An after-dinner walk is ideal for relaxation, but a strenuous workout is a definite no-no.
- Use natural remedies from your kitchen shelf
Fennel seeds, ginger, chamomile tea, apple cider vinegar, and mustard are some effective natural remedies for managing acid reflux and GERD.
- Know the best sleeping position
Keep your head raised higher than your feet and body while sleeping to prevent the reflux of stomach acids. However, pillows may not be as effective as a foam wedge or an inclined bed.