Banish Acid Reflux the Natural Way | by
More than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A common medical condition that occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, throat and mouth, acid reflux often causes the symptom known as heartburn.
“After digesting a meal, a muscular, valve-like ring located between the stomach and esophagus opens to allow food into the stomach. When this valve does not close properly or loses muscle tone, acid starts to creep up into the esophagus,” says Dr. Diana Milling, a naturopath at Advanced Integrative Medicine in Lone Tree.
When heartburn occurs more than twice a week for an extended period of time, you may be suffering from the more serious GERD, says Milling. A chronic form of acid reflux, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD, may be treated with medication, or in some cases, surgery.
Certain medications, conditions and lifestyle choices can predispose people to the painful, burning sensation often felt in the middle of the chest. But, how can we prevent it?
Diet Do’s and Don’ts
“Diet can be a major trigger for heartburn,” Milling says. “Notably, if there are food intolerances that we are unaware of but consuming on a regular basis.”
The most common, reflux-producing food sensitivities are eggs, dairy, gluten/gliadin, soy, corn, nuts, sugar, pineapple, bananas, mushrooms and foods high in baker’s or brewer’s yeast.
“There are also many foods and drinks that can help to alleviate heartburn,” says Milling.
To soothe a case of acid reflux, reach for fermented fare, like kombucha, kimchi or miso; nosh on cabbage or gluten-free oatmeal; sip chamomile or ginger tea with a spoonful of raw honey; season your dishes with fennel or parsley; and use healthy fats, like coconut oil, olive oil or ghee.
Natural elixirs can also remedy acid reflux. Milling recommends mixing two tablespoons of slippery elm into a cup of cold water and refrigerating it overnight. In the morning, add raw honey or cinnamon to taste, and take 1 tablespoon every couple of hours. Another easy combination is 1/4 cup of aloe juice mixed into an 8-ounce glass of water; consume daily to help symptoms.
Milling also suggests her patients eat smaller, more frequent meals, and always eat at least three hours before bedtime so that food has sufficient time to digest. If it’s less than that, when you lie down, gravity can increase the propensity for acid to travel up towards the esophagus, making acid reflux worse.
Beyond diet, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce acid reflux. Quit smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, and avoid a high-fat diet. Find ways to decrease your stress level. Incorporate deep breathing and yoga into your routine.
Acid Reflux Producing Foods
- Soda and other carbonated beverages
- Refined carbohydrates, like cereal or baked goods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Alcohol; chocolate
- Spicy and fried foods
- Raw onions and garlic
- Foods high in histamine—cured meats, soy sauce, olives, and mayonnaise
Source: Dr. Diana Milling, naturopath with Advanced Integrative Medicine.
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