If you’ve ever experienced burning in the chest and throat, belching, nausea after eating, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, coughing, hiccups, or pain with lying down, bending, and stooping – particularly after a large meal, there’s a good chance you are suffering from a very common health problem. Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, the condition affects approximately 1/3 of the people in the United States. That’s a scarily significant portion of the population, and costs for evaluation and treatment of GERD are more than $10 billion per year!
What Causes GERD?
GERD is a little more than occasional heartburn. People with occasional heartburn experience it less than once a week, while GERD affects people two times a week or more. In some cases, GERD may even cause significant discomfort every day, leading people suffering from the condition to try just about every type of medication they can. So what causes GERD? Food passes through your digestive system via the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which sits at the bottom of your esophagus just before your stomach. This passage is supposed to be one-way only. Unfortunately, a number of things can cause the LES to not close properly, or to open at inappropriate times, allowing stomach acid to flow upwards through the LES, carrying stomach acids into the esophagus and mouth. While many people experience occasional bouts of heartburn, when this begins to occur regularly, doctors diagnose GERD. What factors contribute to GERD?
- Eating large meals
- Eating foods that irritate the stomach
- Constipation or poor elimination
- Excess belly fat
- Excess intake of acidic foods
- A high fat diet
Natural Ways to Eliminate Acid Reflux
While the common response to GERD is to reach for an antacid or the latest anti-GERD miracle medicine such as Zantac or Prilosec, this only treats the symptoms and does not eliminate the cause. In some cases, even medications aren’t enough to fully eliminate symptoms. In others, you are forced to take more and more medicine in order to get the same level of relief. And even if you have relieved the symptoms through medicine, have you eliminated the cause? Of course not! Fortunately, you can control the symptoms of GERD naturally, and even help your body heal so you never need to reach for that roll of Tums again! By making lifestyle changes that support good health, you can start feeling relief without medicine.
- The Glowing Green Smoothie: I really do believe the GGS is a miracle in a glass. Starting your day with one can do so many positive things for your health. Here’s how it helps with GERD. Since one of the leading causes of GERD is constipation (straining to eliminate hardened stool can widen the LES over time, allowing acids to back up through the esophagus), all of the beneficial fiber from a daily GGS will help bulk up your stool and eliminate constipation. Another reason the GGS is so powerful in your fight against GERD and acid reflux is that you are starting your day with a powerfully alkaline drink that can neutralize any acids in your system and help maintain your body’s pH levels.
- Eat a plant-based diet: Plants are full of wonderful nutrients, fibers, and active enzymes. Additionally, plants are alkaline, which can help create an internal environment that inhibits acids from building up. Plants are easy to digest, so your stomach doesn’t need to work nearly as hard or produce nearly as much acid as it would with other foods.
- Avoid or minimize all animal products: On the other hand, animal products (including dairy, meat, fish, eggs, and poultry) are very difficult to digest. They require tremendous effort (and acid release) on the part of your stomach. Likewise, animal products create an acidic environment in which conditions like acid reflux thrive.
- Minimize acid-forming beverages: Coffee, soda, and energy drinks all create tons of acid in your body – and your stomach. They can also irritate your stomach lining. Carbonation may also contribute to GERD symptoms. Switch to herbal tea, pure water, or a water with a squeeze of lemon.
- Avoid gluten grains: Wheat, rye, barley, and some processed oats all contain gluten, which is a protein that is very hard for the digestive system to process. Instead, switch to healthy, non-GMO grains like millet and quinoa. These not only add beneficial fiber to your diet, but the are much easier on digestion.
- Minimize fats: While your body needs some fat to survive, minimizing your intake of super fatty foods like fried foods and animal products can make a big difference in GERD.
- If you are overweight, lose weight: Belly fat can contribute to GERD, so losing weight can ease the pressure on the LES.
- Stop eating before you are stuffed: Eat your meals slowly, chewing fully, and stop when you start to feel full – not when you feel so full you can’t move. Huge meals overextend the stomach, which can cause – you guessed it – acid reflux.
- Eliminate foods that may irritate your stomach: Certain foods can really be irritating to the stomach, including things like onions and peppers. If you notice a certain food irritates your stomach, cut it out.
- Wait an hour after eating: Before you lie down or get all excited about bending, stooping, and other actions, wait an hour after a meal. This helps keep the acid right where it belongs – in your stomach. If you allow gravity to aid stomach acid by bending or lying and you have a weakened or widened LES, it’s going to wind up in your esophagus and mouth.
- Sleep with your upper body in an elevated position. If acid reflux gets you at night, defy gravity by lying in bed with your upper body raised to keep acids where they belong.
- Avoid antacids: While these chalky pills temporarily relieve symptoms of acid reflux, they also cause the stomach to produce more acid to overcome the alkalinity they create. This creates a downward spiral where you take more antacids to combat the increased acid, and your stomach produces more acid to combat the increased number of antacids. Before long, you’ll be going through a Costco-sized Tums in just a few days. Nobody wants to live that way!
- Stop smoking.
Natural Acid Reflux Treatment
I can see you saying, “But I have acid reflux right now. These things will take time. How can I relieve my symptoms now?” Here are a few suggestions.
- Have some licorice root tea. This tea soothes and can coat the lining of your esophagus. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before trying licorice root, which can elevate blood pressure.
- Chew a fresh basil leaf. This Ayurvedic remedy can sooth your digestive tract.
- Suck on a slippery elm lozenge. Available at the health food store, these lozenges will protect your digestive tract and relive coughing or pain.
- Take digestive enzymes. This can help encourage digestion to occur more quickly.
- Try some organic raw honey. This will neutralize the pH in your stomach, reducing acids that can come back up.
- Have some chamomile tea. Chamomile can soothe and neutralize stomach acids.
Love and Health,