You enjoyed this spicy burrito for dinner, but it hits you – that uncomfortable feeling in your chest that can only mean one thing: heartburn.
Heartburn can be a part of life for many people. According to American College of Gastroenterology, about 60 million Americans have heartburn at least once a month, and it is estimated that nearly 15 million people get heartburn every day.
In addition to working with a doctor to assess and manage your symptoms, there are steps you can take to help stop acid reflux naturally. Here are some acid reflux remedies that can help get rid of heartburn without antacids.
If you regularly have heartburn more than two or three times a week, see a doctor, as your symptoms may be due to a more serious condition called GERD.
You might find relief from acid reflux by limiting the amount you eat at one time, dietitian Holly Dykstra, RDN, tells LIVESTRONG.com. Making sure your stomach isn’t too full can help prevent reflux in the first place.
Dykstra suggests eating several small meals rather than two or three larger meals during the day, to see if that makes a difference in your symptoms.
“Large meals can overfill the stomach and prevent the esophageal sphincter from functioning properly, leading to reflux,” she notes.
2. Stay upright for an hour or two after eating.
To get rid of heartburn at night in particular, avoid eating too early before bedtime or eating and then lying on the couch, explains Dykstra. Going horizontally, it is more likely that the acid will flow back into your esophagus.
If you have a hard time avoiding eating before bed, you can try elevating the head of your bed to stand up while you sleep. the Mayo Clinic recommends inserting a wedge between your mattress and box spring to do the trick (propping yourself up with extra pillows usually doesn’t help).
Does Eating Slowly Help With Heartburn?
One of the old-fashioned heartburn remedies is to chew food well and slow down when eating, but research doesn’t support this idea. A 2013 comparative study in theTurkish Journal of GastroenterologyFound that feeding speed had no significant effect on reflux attacks in people with GERD.
3. Achieve a healthy weight
According to Dykstra, being at a healthy weight is one of the most helpful steps you can take to manage your acid reflux symptoms. Especially if you have a body mass index (BMI) over 25 or a large waistline, you can find heartburn relief just by losing weight.
“This is because the excess fat around the abdomen increases pressure on the stomach, which can lead to reflux,” Dykstra explains. “Even losing 5-10 pounds can make a difference.”
4. Avoid or reduce smoking and alcohol consumption
If you smoke, it’s time to quit, and if you drink alcohol on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth considering cutting back or staying sober.
“Smoking and alcohol consumption are known to irritate the digestive tract, so if there is already inflammation and reflux, these habits can make it worse,” Dykstra explains.
A regular exercise routine can help strengthen all the muscles in the body, including those in your digestive tract, says Dykstra. (Who knew?)
Bonus: Exercise can also reduce the risk of constipation, which in turn can help reduce acid reflux.
“Constipation can increase the size of the stomach and therefore prevent the sphincter from working properly,” explains Dykstra. “So if constipation is present, it may help to treat it.”
It doesn’t matter what type of workout you do, as long as you enjoy it and keep going.
Sometimes getting active can trigger that burning sensation, but don’t let that stop you from working out – instead, learn about the small changes you can make to deal with heartburn while exercising.
Heartburn triggers can vary from person to person, but in general, Dykstra notes that these are the foods to avoid with acid reflux:
- Spicy foods, including those with hot peppers, chili powder, curry powder, or hot sauce
- Caffeine (in coffee, tea, soda or chocolate)
- Tomatoes or tomato-based foods like tomato sauce, ketchup, and tomato paste
- Citrus fruits, such as lemons, grapefruits, limes, and oranges
- Soft drinks, including soda and seltzer
- Foods high in fat, especially fried foods and those made with butter, cream, or oil-based dressings
- Spearmint or peppermint, as in gum, mint, or tea
- Alcoholic beverages
Because everyone reacts to food differently, it can be helpful to keep a food journal, noting what you eat and when you have heartburn, to help you determine which foods are triggering symptoms for you.
7. Eat your fruits and vegetables
Overall, Dykstra recommends sticking to a nutrient-dense, balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruits, as eating enough fiber is a natural remedy for acid reflux.
“The products are high in fiber and also provide helpful antioxidants that can help reduce chronic inflammation,” she says.
This is because low-fiber diets are associated with delayed gastric emptying and poor gut motility (when food doesn’t flow through your system as quickly as it should), which can cause acid reflux and increase blood pressure. risk of GERD, according to a study from June 2018. in World Journal of Gastroenterology. Fiber can also help neutralize stomach acid.
Beyond fruits and vegetables, foods high in fiber include:
- Seeds, including flax and sunflower seeds
- Nuts, including pistachios and almonds
- Pop corn
8. Make your peace with milk
Here’s a riddle for you: Does milk help with acid reflux? The answer is yes and no.
Milk may temporarily reduce the symptoms of acid reflux in some people, but in others it can actually make their symptoms worse. The only way to know is to pay attention to how milk affects you personally.
If you decide that milk is quick heartburn relief for you, Dykstra suggests sticking to fat-free or 1% milk, as the fat content of 2% or whole milk could make symptoms worse. reflux.
So what can you drink for acid reflux?
Take the following drinks to avoid this burning sensation in the throat or chest:
- Water (avoid sparkling water)
- Coconut water
- Herbal teas without caffeine, such as chamomile (avoid spearmint or peppermint)
- Plant-based milks, such as almond or coconut milk
- Non-acidic juices, such as carrot or cabbage juice (avoid tomato, apple, pineapple, and citrus juices such as orange juice)
- Smoothies made from plant-based milk, leafy vegetables and low-acid fruits, such as watermelon or pear
9. Watch out for other symptoms
If you notice additional digestive symptoms in addition to heartburn – such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, or vomiting – it is important that you speak with a doctor to see if there may be any additional causes. behind your acid reflux.
For example, Dykstra points out that sometimes gluten or lactose intolerance can cause digestive symptoms, including reflux.
What about baking soda for acid reflux?
You may have heard that baking soda works as a natural antacid and helps fight acid reflux, but there is no research to support this idea. Plus, baking soda is high in sodium and can cause uncomfortable side effects like gas and burping, so it’s best to avoid this old-fashioned remedy.
When to see a doctor for acid reflux
If you have frequent and recurring acid reflux or if your acid reflux is interfering with your quality of life, you should schedule a medical examination with your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine what may be causing your heartburn and work with you to manage your symptoms.
Your doctor may also assess you for a more serious form of acid reflux called GERD, which might require more treatment, such as medication or even surgery.
“Acid reflux is usually easily treated with diet and lifestyle changes,” says Dykstra. “However, it is possible that other conditions are the cause, such as infection, food intolerance or other disorders. It is important to discuss the symptoms with your doctor to determine the cause.”
She also recommends seeking help from a registered dietitian. “The point is to avoid restricting foods if possible,” she says, “and a dietitian can help you figure out how to do that.