15 Ways to Ease the Symptoms of Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn is a common problem faced by adults. It could be a rare instance caused by overeating or eating the wrong food, or a regular, chronic condition.
When the food enters your stomach after passing through the esophagus, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is supposed to close, preventing food or acid from regurgitating. When the LES does not close properly, acid flows into the food pipe from the stomach and there is a burning sensation in the throat and the chest region.
Though there are medications available for preventing heartburn, long-term usage is not advisable since they block acid production in your stomach.
- Minus processed food: Reduce or eliminate processed, packaged foods and sugars as they upset the bacterial balance in the stomach and the intestine. Instead, replace them with vegetables and other unprocessed foods. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine products also trigger heartburn.
- Have baking soda: A spoonful of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, dissolved in water counters the effects of stomach acid, reducing the effects of reflux and the resultant heartburn. But baking soda is high on salt, so use this method with caution.
- Drink aloe vera juice: Aloe vera grows abundantly and easily. Popular for use on the skin, aloe vera juice is also good in reducing inflammation and calming down the stomach. Have it before meals. A word of caution: it can be a laxative, so don’t overdo it.
- Eat a banana or an apple: Banana contains natural antacids and can control acid reflux. Apple too can provide relief.
- Drink Gingerroot tea: Ginger is generally good for several stomach problems, including acid reflux. Include it in your diet, or have ginger tea to get relief.
- Eat dinner early: Heartburn gets aggravated when you lie down, especially if you do so immediately after a meal. So, try to give a gap between dinner and going to bed. Elevate your head as that can help keep the acid down.
- Eat slowly, in small portions: Take small bites and eat slowly, giving your stomach time to digest. When you gobble or eat fast, the stomach has to pump excess acid, which will cause heartburn.
- Eat carefully: Foods high on acid, such as citric fruits, can trigger heartburn. Avoid these when possible.
- Avoid smoking and drinking: Nicotine and alcohol weaken the esophagus, apart from being stomach irritants in general.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight aggravates GERD and heartburn as the additional weight puts pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter.
- Try mustard: Small and powerful, mustard alkalizes food, is full of minerals and contains a weak acid in the form of vinegar. Have it raw to put acid in its place.
- Have almonds: Have a couple of almonds after every meal as they neutralize the stomach juices, providing relief from heartburn.
- Drink chamomile tea: It is well known for its ability to reduce inflammation in the stomach and can counter acidity as well. One of the triggers for acidity is stress, and chamomile is good at helping one relax.
- Wear loose clothes: Tight jeans, belts and even tight shirts can press against your abdomen, putting extra pressure on the LES and aggravating symptoms of heartburn. So, wear clothes that are loose and comfortable. Don’t tighten your belt too hard.
- Try sea salt: This helps the stomach produce enough acid as low acid production is also one of the reasons for GERD. Sea salt provides the body with the chloride it needs to make hydrochloric acid, as well as providing nearly 80 trace minerals needed to perform optimally.
A calm mind, healthy lifestyle and right diet can help manage heartburn. Also, consult a doctor to make sure there are no other medical conditions that are triggering the heartburn.