Acid reflux is more common than one would imagine. It is that very uncomfortable sensation you get when the stomach acid moves up into the oesophagus. While some reflux might not be a cause for concern, more than a few times within a week could burn the insides of the oesophagus. Heartburn, a burning and painful feeling in the chest or throat is the most common symptom. Regular heartburn could lead to a more serious form of the reflux called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While regular and commercial medication will help cure the condition, it is always better to take certain steps like making certain dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent acid reflux in the first place.
Let’s take a look at some such remedies that could go a long way in keeping acid reflux and heartburn at bay.
Drink adequate water
One of the simplest solutions to prevent and relieve acid reflux is to drink water. Water has a neutral pH which helps raise the pH of acidic foods. But keep in mind that drinking too much water can disrupt the mineral balance in your body and may, in turn, cause acid reflux. So drink adequate water but do not go overboard.
Eat regular meals, avoid overeating
A study that compared the eating habits of people with and without GERD revealed that it was the former who skipped meals more regularly than the other. It further showed how those with GERD were in the habit of having large meals in the evening, a very common cause of acid reflux. It was recommended that three meals in a day at least or four or five small meals can help both cure and prevent acid reflux.
Watch the weight
Studies have also linked obesity to GERD. While the association is still not very clear, it is believed that excess belly fat may increase oesophagal acid exposure. Other contributing factors in obesity also include incompetence of the lower oesophagal sphincter, increased frequency of the sphincter’s relaxation, and increased intragastric vs gastroesophageal pressure gradient. Obese individuals may also have a hiatal hernia which can be associated with the development of GERD.
Embrace a low-carb diet
It is understood that low-carb food could help provide relief during acid reflux. Research proves that carbs that are undigested could increase the overgrowth of bacteria and abdominal pressure. While further conclusive studies are required, a diet low in carbs is believed to effectively cure acid reflux.
It is never a bad idea to kick the butt. However, research has shown how smoking could lead to acid reflux by hampering the functioning of the lower oesophageal sphincter and lowering your saliva’s ability to neutralise stomach acid. While it was found that quitting smoking did help relieve GERD, it was only in those people who weren’t obese or overweight. Nonetheless, it is recommended that anybody with GERD must avoid smoking.
Lower alcohol consumption
While making dietary and lifestyle changes, it would be a healthy idea to lower or quit alcohol consumption as well. Among the various health benefits, this would lead to, it is believed limited alcohol intake could relieve acid reflux. Alcohol leads to heartburn by disallowing the proper functioning of the lower oesophageal sphincter, adversely affecting the food pipe and upping stomach acid.
Inculcate good sleeping habits
Certain sleeping habits can also help prevent and cure acid reflux. It is recommended that large meals be avoided before bedtime because stomach contents could easily move into the food pipe when not in an upright position. It is even better to avoid big meals close to bedtime. Studies have also shown how elevating the bed’s head by as much as 20 centimetres could aid those who suffer from reflux in the night and can also help one sleep better. Also, it is a good idea to avoid lying down immediately after a meal. While sleeping, try not lying on your right side. Many studies have revealed how while doing so, the lower oesophageal sphincter may relax, increasing the risk of reflux.
Avoid certain food and drinks
Those who suffer from GERD might be recommended to avoid or reduce the consumption of certain food items. Some of these include the following:
- Raw onions
- Citrus fruits and juice
- Carbonated drinks
- Spicy, salty, fatty and fried foods
While acid reflux can be easily cured by proper medication, it is believed that sound eating, sleeping and lifestyle habits can work wonders, too. Then again, such healthy habits could prove beneficial to lead an overall healthy lifestyle so it is never too late to make the switch!