Acid reflux is a common condition where stomach acid flows up into the tube that connects the stomach to the throat, called the oesophagus. Acid enters the oesophagus because of a weakened ring of muscle at the top of the stomach (called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES)). Usually, when we consume any food or drink, that ring of muscle tightens and closes off the top of the stomach so that nothing flows out of the stomach, back up the tube. With the exception of burping or vomiting, that tiny doorway should remain closed. However, when it is unable to shut properly because it has become weakened for some reason, and gastric juices end up flowing back up the tube, then this alters proper digestion, often causing many unpleasant symptoms. If left untreated, acid reflux can evolve into a condition known as GERD (gastro-oesophagal reflux disease).
Here are a few natural remedies:
Alter your diet
Avoid your trigger foods and include foods that are anti-inflammatory, soothing to your gut and easy to digest. These can include green leafy vegetables, cucumber, ochro (okra), almonds, oatmeal, white fish, white meat, brown rice, coconut, avocado, soups and salads (without raw onion).
Drink lots of water throughout the day.
Do: Take the time to chew your food properly and eat more slowly.
Consume less alcohol.
Consume processed foods (for example, sausages, tinned meats and foods high in artificial ingredients), condiments (for example, ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, garlic sauce or salad dressing) or fast foods.
Drink while eating. A sip of water for the moisture is okay, but a glass of juice is not. This dilutes the stomach acid and causes a longer time for digestion, leading of course to fermentation, gas, bloating and acid reflux.
Skip meals. This can lead to overeating whenever you do eat.
Don’t eat and lie down. It is best to wait at least an hour after eating before you lie down.
Change your sleeping position
Acid reflux often strikes in the night time. Be sure to sleep in an elevated position by stacking your pillows at least six inches higher than usual. If you sleep on your side, be sure to sleep on your left side, as this position prevents acid from travelling up the oesophagus.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress is like a ball of energy that begins in the mind and is stored up in the body. It must be released or else the body will implode, figuratively speaking, of course. Find a way to release this energy, whether it be by moderate exercise, outdoor activity, meditation, prayer, or whatever healthy means that you choose, and restore balance to the energy in your body.
Try natural supplements
Epsom salt/magnesium – relaxes smooth muscle tissue and reduces spasm of the oesophageal sphincter, preventing the escape of acid from the stomach.
Ginger and turmeric – anti-inflammatory and aid digestion when taken in moderation.
Paw paw – Contains the enzyme pepsin which aids in the effective breakdown of food in the stomach.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar – contains helpful probiotics and restores the stomach’s acidic PH for effective digestion.
Activated charcoal – reduces gas and bloating, and removes harmful toxins from the gut caused by bacterial or yeast overgrowth due to certain medications.
Protect your gut lining
Help your gut to heal by restoring its mucosal lining. Liquorice root (not for high blood pressure patients), slippery elm, aloe vera and ochro/okra can help with this, all in moderate amounts.
Probiotics like, yogurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables or probiotic supplements help to repopulate the gut with “good” bacteria, aiding proper digestion.
Leah Lewis, MPH.
CEO/ Principal Consultant
Leah Lewis is a health and wellness programme expert and is the founder and principal consultant of To’ren Healthcare Consultancy. Through her company, she helps leaders around the world to create and manage winning health programs and policies, while inspiring others to live healthy lifestyles.