You fear eating your next meal because it’s probably going to cause heartburn; you wake up during the night because laying down causes a burning sensation in your chest; and, you’re fed up with antacids that do nothing but temporarily mask the issue. About 20 percent of people today have acid reflux and it can affect your everyday.
While antacids can help curb the burn in the moment, you know it’s just going to come back the next day — and the costs are adding up with no resolve. The good news is there are many natural, easy and affordable acid reflux remedies that help to address it at the root cause.
How does acid reflux happen?
Contrary to what we’re told, more often than not, acid reflux is due to having too little stomach acid, not too much. If too little stomach acid is produced, food and acid will linger in the stomach, delaying the emptying of the stomach. The longer food sits in the stomach, the higher the risk of irritation to the stomach, resulting in a heartburn sensation.
Of course, acid reflux can occur when we have high stomach acidity (a condition called hyperchlorhydria); but for many of us, it’s because the stomach doesn’t produce enough acid (called hypochlorhydria). When treated by medication, the production of acid in the stomach is reduced; the problem often only worsens because it causes even less acid production. This can result in nutrient and protein deficiencies, malabsorption and more.
17 Effective and natural acid reflux remedies
Let’s get you on the mend with these 17 natural and healing acid reflux remedies.
1. Increase acid production with apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of my favorite daily remedies for acid reflux. It’s a gentle acid-producing drink that can help increase the production of acid in your stomach if your levels are low.
To drink it, mix 1 tbsp ACV with 4-6oz of water before every meal. For even more support, add 1 tsp – 1 tbsp of lemon juice to this drink. If you experience burning mid-way through a meal or have trouble breaking down food, drink more of this mixture mid-way through a meal to help break down your food.
2. Add a boost of digestive enzymes
Similar to stomach acid, enzymes are also an important factor in breaking down the food you eat. Whether you’re low in digestive enzymes or need to temporarily compensate for low stomach acid as you rebuild it with apple cider vinegar, taking digestive enzymes can be a good short-term solution to help naturally support digestion.
Most people don’t need to take these for the rest of their lives, but it can be good to take while working on increasing acid production.
3. HCL and pepsin
If the thought of apple cider vinegar makes you want to gag, there is another option. HCL (hydrochloric acid) is the acid naturally present in your stomach to break down macros like proteins. If you’ve been on medications that have lowered acid production over time, however, you may be deficient in it. Taking HCL can directly help to address the lack.
Of note, this isn’t for everyone; especially if you have a stomach infection like helicobacter pylori in which more acid can make it worse. It’s important to first consult with your physician before taking HCL.
An easy way to know if it’s working is when you begin to feel a warm sensation in your stomach. If you don’t feel it, consider increasing your dose a bit until you feel a warming sensation — but don’t increase beyond that. HCL supplementation should be done on a short-term basis. After a little while, your body should be able to produce appropriate levels on its own.
4. Eat smaller, more frequent meals
The more you eat, the harder it is for your digestive tract to keep up. Especially if you lack enough acid and enzymes to break down food in the first place, large meals can be especially troublesome.
Today, portion sizes have gotten out of control, which isn’t helping the matter. When eating at home, to eat smaller meals, use smaller plates or only fill your plate with an amount of food that equates to the size of your fist. It may seem like a shockingly small amount of food but it’s the appropriate amount and what your body can handle.
You may even consider breaking out your meals as follows:
- Morning snack
- Mid-morning snack
- Small lunch
- Mid-afternoon snack
- Small dinner
Spreading out your meals this way gives your body a chance to fully digest each food item.
5. Avoid spicy foods in your diet
You’re probably aware that if you have acid reflux, spicy foods don’t help the matter. Jalapeños, cayenne pepper, hot sauce — these foods may taste great but don’t sit well in your system. While you’re working to rebalance proper acid levels in your digestive tract, try to avoid foods with spicy ingredients so as not to aggravate your system further.
Other spices you may enjoy instead are cumin, black pepper and turmeric. Turmeric in particular is excellent for digestive health as it’s one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients which can also help reduce acid reflux.
6. Remove inflammatory foods from your diet
A big contributing factor to acid reflux is the food that you choose to put in your body. If it’s food your body recognizes and that provides nourishment, your body won’t have a problem with it; but if it’s highly processed and irritating, it can cause issues such as acid reflux, bloating and gas.
Common inflammatory or irritating foods include wheat gluten, pasteurized dairy and refined sugar. Heavily processed and altered from their original food state, the body almost doesn’t recognize them as food, which can cause stomach upset and oftentimes acid reflux.
Especially if you have trouble digesting these food items, it can put a strain on an already depleted acid or enzyme store. To help your entire system replenish itself, it’s best to just avoid these foods and instead focus on whole, colorful foods like fruits and vegetables.
7. Eliminate these other offending foods
If you want to give your body the best chance of resolving acid reflux, it’s important to know all the foods that contribute to or make it worse.
Some other known offenders include alcohol, chocolate, carbonated beverages, fatty and fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, mints, tomatoes, oranges and other acidic foods and drinks.
You can choose to take these out temporarily for a few months, or indefinitely, while you allow your system to heal itself using the other tips in this post.
8. Enjoy these soothing foods
The good news is, there are many fantastic foods that can support your efforts to resolve acid reflux.
These include kefir, bone broth, fermented vegetables, kombucha, dark leafy vegetables, artichokes, asparagus, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash, wild caught fish, healthy fats like avocado, almonds, and honey.
Non-spicy and anti-inflammatory, these foods will not only keep acid reflux at bay but can help to calm the body down and promote cellular healing and rejuvenation in the digestive tract.
9. Chew, chew, chew!
As your mother said when you were little, “chew your food!” And she was right!
Chewing is a critical part of digestion. If you don’t chew enough, it requires your body to muster up more resources (like acid and enzymes) to digest it later.
To avoid stressing your system further, simply chew more! How much? Aim to chew 30 times for every bite.
Chewing signals to your body that it needs to release digestive enzymes and produce acid to begin the digestion process. It also entices saliva production which has key enzymes that begin to break down food right in your mouth.
10. Breathe before eating
As a society, we’re guilty of eating on-the-go or rushing through meals to get onto the next thing. This can cause trouble for those with acid reflux for a few reasons.
First of all, if you’re stressed out when eating, your body will be in a “fight or flight” mode and not focused on digestion. Digestion is controlled by the central nervous system (CNS) and has just two modes — fight or flight or rest and digest.
So, as you can guess, you want it to be in the latter state. To do that, you can simply breathe!
Take a few deep breaths to put your worries behind you and become present with your food and this will rest your body and prime it for optimal digestion and reduce the strain on resources that often results in acid reflux.
Try these breathing exercises to relax yourself:
11. Massage your upper abdomen
If your acid reflux is caused by too much acid reflux or delayed emptying of acid and food from the stomach, oftentimes acid can bubble up into the lower esophagus, causing the actual heartburn sensation.
As a way to calm down and strengthen the valve that separates the stomach and esophagus, you can gently massage it at the base of your rib cage right in the middle of your chest.
Using your pointer and middle finger, rub this area in a circular motion to support proper motility and function.
12. Drink extra water (72oz)
An easy way to cool down the fire is to drink more water. This can help dilute too much stomach acid or entice lingering acid and food to move along, thus reducing acid reflux sensations.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is not only good for keeping acid reflux at bay, it also helps relieve constipation, rehydrate if you experience diarrhea and it keeps you mentally sharp.
13. Evaluate your stress levels
Stress can have an immense impact on digestion, so start to pay attention to whether you experience more acid reflux in times of high stress.
As mentioned earlier, when we are stressed, our bodies are in the fight or flight mode, not rest and digest state, which can cause issues with gastric emptying including of acid. It could also cause your system to go haywire, producing either too much or too little acid, both of which can lead to acid reflux.
14. Drink aloe juice
Aloe juice is incredibly healing and soothing for the digestive tract, especially if acid is the problem. Just like it heals sunburned skin, it can also soothe the cell lining of your digestive tract from acid damage or inflammation.
Drink ¼-½ cup of organic aloe juice (important to find a brand without any sugar or additives) before a meal, or at any point in the day when you experience acid reflux.
15. Don’t eat late at night
Ever lie down in bed shortly after eating and feel a burning sensation? That’s because food and acid is still in your stomach digesting. When you lay horizontally, it causes it to rise up near your esophagus.
Go to bed no sooner than two hours after eating as that’s about the amount of time needed for food to leave your stomach and enter the intestines. So if you go to bed around 10pm, eat no later than 8pm.
16. Enjoy these cooling herbs
Like aloe juice, there are other ways to soothe and cool the system from the acid burn. These include slippery elm, marshmallow root, chamomile and licorice root. All herbs you can take in capsules, tinctures or herbal tea form, they’re easy to find and consume and have incredible digestive health benefits.
Not only do the work to counteract the heat from acid reflux, they also help to soothe and heal a damaged gut lining.
17. Use baking soda in a pinch
Baking soda has a number of health benefits and can offer fast relief from acid reflux, too. Because it’s a base, not an acid, it can help to neutralize stomach acid even if you have low production. But since it can lower stomach acid, it should only be used sparingly.
To take baking soda: mix ½ tsp in ¼ cup of water. If after several minutes you still feel a burning sensation, repeat this drink until the feeling is gone.
It’s important to only do this if you’re also working on boosting normal acid levels as that will help address the root cause of the issue. Baking soda is a far more natural and healthy alternative to heavy antacid medications.
Your acid reflux remediation plan
Start by incorporating one or two of the tips in this post and build from there as needed. Each of these tips are incredibly powerful, and perhaps you only need one or two of them to make a big difference for you. Over time, however, these changes will help restore function in your digestive tract. If you have other digestive health concerns, they can go towards resolving those too.
Best of luck!
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com
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