Acid reflux, also known as acidity, is a very common condition that causes a painful, burning feeling in the chest (often referred to as heartburn) or in the throat. But keep in mind that heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, despite its name. This condition occurs when stomach acid travels up or backs up into the oesophagus – the muscular tube connecting the throat with the stomach. If you keep having acid reflux on a regular basis, it can lead to a more severe form of a condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). The good thing is that there are many natural home remedies that can help reduce or even prevent heartburn.
Making simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help treat acid reflux effectively. Many people often get heartburn as a result of poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking (active or passive), low levels of physical activity, etc. Being overweight or pregnant can also increase a person’s risk of having acid reflux. Here are some natural ways to prevent or treat heartburn.
Natural home remedies for acid reflux or heartburn – backed by scientific studies
Chew gum: Research suggests that chewing gums, especially those containing bicarbonate, may reduce acidity in the oesophagus as it increases the formation of saliva. This, in turn, helps clear the oesophagus of stomach acid.
Watch what you eat: It’s important to watch what you eat, which means avoiding certain types of food that trigger or worsen the symptoms of heartburn. It’s often recommended to keep a watch on your intake of fatty foods, caffeine, sodas, peppermint, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, etc. if you suffer from acid reflux. Opt for fibre-rich foods that will keep your digestive tract moving and healthy. You should also practice portion sizes, try eating four-five small meals a day instead of three big meals to avoid heartburn.
Eat a low-carb diet: Following a low-carb diet appears to help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux. The idea is that undigested carbs may cause bacterial overgrowth and elevate the pressure inside the stomach, leading to acid reflux. However, more work is required to prove that a low-carb diet is effective in the treatment of acid reflux.
Limit alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol can increase the severity of acid reflux and heartburn. Studies have shown that alcohol can aggravate the symptoms and impair the oesophagus’ ability to clear itself of stomach acid. So, if you suffer from acid reflux, limiting your alcohol intake or quitting altogether might be a better option.
Avoid eating food near bedtime: Generally, people suffering from acid reflux are advised to avoid eating within three hours before they go to sleep. Observational studies suggest that eating close to bedtime may worsen or increase the symptoms of acid reflux at night.