Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Diet And Lifestyle Changes
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and modify the types of foods you are eating..
- If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
- Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Home Remedies For Heartburn
Tags: Digestive Health & Disorders ,
That unpleasant feeling of your last meal coming back into your throat. That uncomfortable, even painful, burning sensation in your chest. Heartburn has returned.
Heartburn is the feeling you get when the contents of your stomach back up into the esophagus toward the mouth. It’s common to experience it from time to time.
When To See A Doctor
The American Gastroenterological Association advise people to see a doctor if symptoms of reflux persist or worsen over the course of a few weeks.
According to the AGA, people should see a doctor immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- chest pain when performing an activity
- unexplained weight loss
- choking when eating, or difficulty swallowing foods and liquids
- vomiting blood or a substance resembling coffee grounds
- red or black stools
Any of the above symptoms could indicate a potentially life-threatening health issue that requires urgent medical attention.
A Note About Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors are the most effective treatments for chronic acid reflux. Theyre generally considered very safe. They reduce your bodys production of gastric acids. Unlike some other medications, you only need to take them once a day to prevent symptoms.
There are also downsides to using proton pump inhibitors on a long-term basis. Over time, they can deplete vitamin B-12 in your body. Since stomach acid is one of your bodys defenses against infection, proton pump inhibitors can also raise your risk of infection and bone fractures. In particular, they can raise your risk of hip, spine, and wrist fractures. They can also be expensive, often costing more than $100 each month.
How Extra Pressure Builds In Your Abdomen
Several different factors could contribute to an increase in your IAP. According to current consensus, these include:
- Bending over after eating
- Lying down after eating
While these factors do play a role, I dont believe theyre the primary drivers behind the increased pressure I see in patients with GERD. As microbiologist Dr. Norm Robillard argues in his book, Heartburn Cured: The Low Carb Miracle, carbohydrate malabsorption could be to blame. Malabsorption of carbs can cause bacterial overgrowth, which generates excess gas and increases IAP. That manifests as GERD.
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Disproving The Stomach Acid Theory
When you look at the data, blaming GERD on too much stomach acid doesnt make sense. Stomach acid actually tends to decline, not rise, with age, while GERD risk increases with age. In fact, 40-year-olds, on average, generate about half as much as stomach acid as 20-year-olds do. And, according to one study, over 40 percent of people age 80 and up may be producing almost no stomach acid at all. Whats more, my patients with heartburn and GERD have responded very well to HCl supplementation, which actually increases their stomach acid. Thats the opposite of what we would expect if excess stomach acid were to blame for the problem.
You need adequate stomach acid to kill opportunistic pathogens, help properly digest food, and maintain optimal health. Reduced stomach acid correlates with a wide range of health problems, and PPIs can easily exacerbate the condition.
What Causes Gerd It Isnt What You Think
Too much stomach acid is not the driving cause of GERD. Dont get me wrong I agree that hydrochloric acid in the esophagus is bad news. Stomach acid itself is a good thing, but only when it stays in the stomach. When it escapes upwards into the esophagus, something has gone awry.
However, instead of trying to figure out why acid isnt properly staying in the stomach, pharmaceutical companies blame GERD on too much stomach acid and make billions from selling acid-suppressing drugs like PPIs, H2 blockers, and antacids. Meanwhile, the problem of why gastric acid reaches the esophagus is never addressed. That creates a lifelong dependency on medication for millions of Americans, which is incredibly profitable for the pharmaceutical industry.
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Opt For Cooked Onions Instead Of Raw
Raw onions are a common trigger for acid reflux and heartburn.
One older study in people with acid reflux showed that eating a meal containing raw onion significantly increased heartburn, acid reflux, and burping, compared with consuming an identical meal that didnt contain onions .
More frequent burping might suggest that more gas is being produced. This could be due to the high amounts of fermentable fiber in onions .
Raw onions are also more difficult to digest and might irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing worsened heartburn .
Whatever the reason, if you think eating raw onion makes your symptoms worse, you should avoid it and opt for cooked onions instead.
Some people experience worsened heartburn and other reflux symptoms after eating raw onions.
Gerd Diet: Foods That Help With Acid Reflux
Getting a case of acid reflux once in a while isn’t unusual, but some people suffer from burning discomfort, bloating and belching almost every time they eat. About 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease , a chronic acid reflux condition that’s diagnosed by a doctor.
Normally, the esophageal sphincter protects the esophagus from stomach acid. However, if the sphincter relaxes, food can push upward through the loosened opening and cause acid reflux.
“Diet plays a major role in controlling acid reflux symptoms and is the first line of therapy used for people with GERD,” says Ekta Gupta, M.B.B.S., M.D., gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine.
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What Is The Quickest Way To Get Rid Of Heartburn
Taking antacids is considered the quickest way to get rid of heartburn. These over-the-counter medications help neutralize stomach acid. They are one of the first recommended treatments. They may provide quick relief. However, antacid overuse can cause problems such as diarrhea or chronic kidney disease, especially if they contain aluminum and magnesium.
Other common ways to get rid of heartburn include
- H2 receptor blockers: These medications work to reduce the amount of acid that is made in the stomach. While they do not work as quickly as antacids, they provide longer relief for up to 12 hours. Examples of these include Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac and Axid AR. Although most people have no problems taking them, long-term use can cause vitamin B12 deficiency leading to an increased risk of bone fractures.
- Proton pump inhibitors: This class of medications block acid production. They also help to heal any damage caused to the lining of the esophagus. They are much stronger than the H2 receptor blockers and include Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Zegerid. Excessive use of these medications can cause diarrhea and nausea, vitamin B12 deficiency and an increased risk of bone fractures.
- Baclofen: This medication works to strengthen the muscular valve present at the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. However, it may cause nausea and fatigue in some people.
- Surgical procedures: In rare cases, these are required to help with severe heartburn symptoms.
How Can Heartburn During Pregnancy Be Prevented
You can take steps to reduce heartburn symptoms without hurting your baby.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.
- Eat slowly.
- Drink between your meals, but not with meals.
- Avoid fried, spicy or fatty foods.
- Avoid citrus fruits and juices.
- Limit caffeine.
- Dont smoke and avoid alcohol. Besides causing heartburn, smoking and drinking during pregnancy can cause health problems for the baby.
Other tips to avoid heartburn during pregnancy:
- Sit up straight when you eat.
- Dont eat late at night.
- Dont lie down right after eating.
- Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of the bed. Or try placing pillows under your shoulders. Doing so helps prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
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A Pharmacist Can Help With Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
Four Things To Do While Eating
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What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn
There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes .
Lose weight and maintain your ideal weight. Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.
Avoid foods that aggravate heartburn and replace them with healthy foods. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn . Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.
Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.
How Common Is Gerd
GERD is very common. The condition and its symptoms touch a huge number of people: 20% of the U.S. population.
Anyone of any age can develop GERD, but some may be more at risk for it. For example, the chances youll have some form of GERD increase after age 40.
Youre also more likely to have it if youre:
- Overweight or obese.
- Smoking or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.
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Five Ways To Control Heartburn Acid Reflux Without Nexium
Occasional indigestion can happen to anyone. But regular indigestion, either daily or several times a week, is more likely a sign of acid reflux — officially known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.Many people immediately reach for antacids or other over-the-counter medications like H2 receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors . But wouldn’t you rather avoid long-term use of medications?Five lifestyle adjustments reduced reflux symptoms by almost 40 percent, according to data published earlier this year in JAMA Internal Medicine from Nurses’ Health Study II that compiles health information every two years from more than 100,000 nurses. Researchers identified close to 43,000 women, ages 42 to 62, in that group who did not have GERD in 2007. In the ensuing 10 years, close to 9,300 developed GERD.Here are the Fab Five that might help the 20 percent of Americans suffering from GERD:
Managing Acid Reflux During Sleep Time
Leaving a longer gap between a meal and going to bed gives the body more time to digest the food. Sitting up also helps the body digest food properly.
The proper digestion of food can decrease the likelihood of acid reflux. People experiencing acid reflux during sleep time should aim to eat their last meal at least
- a burning sensation
- a feeling of having a lump in the throat
Treatments to address the root cause of acid reflux will be the most effective in alleviating associated symptoms, such as a sore throat.
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What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd
With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.
When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.
Carbonated Drinks To Manage Your Heartburn:
Many readers find that carbonated beverages of one sort or another can help ease heartburn.
One person wrote:
I take a couple of swallows of 7 Up to make me burp.
My grandfather from Italy used Brioschi. I havent seen it recently, but I take 6 oz of water with one or two ounces of vinegar. Then I stir in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and watch it foam. I drink it while it is still bubbling, and it works, just like the crystals of Brioschi.
Brioschi is still available. The main ingredient, along with flavoring and sweeteners, is baking soda. Other readers just use plain baking soda, as it is more economical. It is a time-honored indigestion remedy, but it should be used judiciously. Sodium bicarbonate is high in sodium that could raise blood pressure.
We got this comment from a reader who likes the effect but not the flavor of baking soda:
Baking soda in water has worked wonders for me at times, but it tastes so bad its also enough to make you puke! I recall making clay volcanoes for art class in school. We used a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to create a very effective volcanic eruption. Makes you think twice about mixing those in your stomach, huh?
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What Lifestyle Changes Help Heartburn
The best way to avoid heartburn discomfort is to prevent it. These lifestyle changes can make a big difference:
- Avoid trigger foods: Foods that promote heartburn include fried and fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods and carbonated beverages.
- Lose weight: Being overweight increases the likelihood that you’ll experience heartburn.
- Avoid eating late at night: Try to eat three hours before going to bed. At a minimum, you should wait at least one hour after eating.
- Elevate the bed: Physically lift the head of your bed about six to eight inches so you’re sleeping on an incline. If that’s not possible, use a wedge pillow for lift.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco: These substances increase the chances of heartburn attacks.
- Wear looser clothing: Tight clothing can put pressure on your digestive system.
What Is Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
People use the terms heartburn and acid reflux to mean the same thing. But they have different definitions:
- Acid reflux refers to the LES not tightening as it should. This allows the stomach acid to travel from your stomach up to your esophagus.
- Heartburn, the feeling of pain or burning in your chest, is a symptom of acid reflux.
Women may have acid reflux during pregnancy and experience heartburn due to changing hormone levels and the baby growing.
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Unproven Or Disproved Home Remedies
Fans of apple cider vinegar theorize that heartburn occurs because there isn’t enough stomach acid. They think taking apple cider vinegar brings the stomach acid level up, allowing the stomach to digest food properly and causing heartburn to subside. However, this is the opposite of what medical experts believe. Healthcare providers recommend taking antacids and medications to reduce stomach acid and control acid reflux symptoms.
There are no published clinical trials that support using apple cider vinegar for heartburn, and one master’s degree thesis found no difference in using vinegar or a placebo for heartburn.
Taking apple cider vinegar undiluted could irritate your mouth and esophagus and erode your tooth enamel as it is very acidic. Dilute it with water if you plan to use it, such as 1-3 teaspoons of vinegar to a cup of water. Vinegar may interact with other medications you are taking at the same time. Instead of relieving heartburn, the vinegar may actually make it worse. If you are considering using apple cider vinegar as a treatment for heartburn, it is important that you talk to your healthcare provider first.
Heartburn Doctor Discussion Guide
What Causes Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused by weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter . Normally this valve closes tightly after food enters your stomach. If it relaxes when it shouldnt, your stomach contents rise back up into the esophagus.
Stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux.
Factors that can lead to this include:
- Too much pressure on the abdomen. Some pregnant women experience heartburn almost daily because of this increased pressure.
- Particular types of food and eating habits.
- Medications that include medicines for asthma, high blood pressure and allergies as well as painkillers, sedatives and anti-depressants.
- A hiatal hernia. The upper part of the stomach bulges into the diaphragm, getting in the way of normal intake of food.
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