You are probably familiar with acid reflux, also known as heartburn. This is a common problem that affects half of the population of the United States. You might also know this condition as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or peptic ulcer disease.

This painful digestive problem affects nearly all of us at one point or another. When stomach acid rises up the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the region of the chest. This pain may worsen if you have bad posture or when you lie down. The abdominal pain can interrupt your sleep schedule and ruin your evening. Overall, acid reflux is something you would want to avoid.

Let’s look at some causes of heartburn before discussing the best ways to deal with it.

What Causes Heartburn?

esophagusWhen you eat and swallow food, it passes down through your esophagus. This is a long tunnel that leads from the mouth to the stomach. At the base of the esophagus is a valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This valve allows food to pass through into the stomach and prevents it, and your stomach acid, from rising back up.

Unfortunately, this valve can sometimes function incorrectly and cause the acid to pass through and splash up through your esophagus. This causes acid reflux and heartburn, the burning sensation.

The following problems may be the real cause of acid reflux:

  • Hiatal Hernia : The diaphragm is a large muscle that acts as a barrier between your upper organs, such as the lungs and heart, and the lower organs, such as the stomach and intestines. There is a small hole in this muscle for the esophagus to pass through. Sometimes, this hole can grow larger. This causes the stomach to rise up in the esophagus.
  • Helicobacter Pylori : This is a common bacterial infection that affects about half of the population all around the world. There are indications that connect this infection to ulcers and stomach cancer.

Sometimes, patients can have both of these conditions. This gives them a much higher chance of suffering from acid reflux on a regular basis. These people are also at higher risk levels of stomach ulcers and digestive problems.

If you are suffering from frequent cases of heartburn, then it’s vital to see a doctor immediately. Your doctor may use physical therapy if it turns out to be a hiatal hernia to ease the symptoms and repair any damage.

Medications for Heartburn: Reasons They Can Do You More Harm Than Good

pills for heartburn
Photo by Rennett Stowe / CC BY

Unfortunately, the pills for heartburn may not help you in the long run. The most common form of heartburn medication is proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs work to lower the levels of acid in your stomach. By reducing your stomach acid production, there is less probability of the acid climbing up your esophagus and causing pain.

This is true on a base level and PPIs do provide short-term relief from the symptoms of acid reflux. However, doctors and scientists agree that PPIs are not an effective, long-term form of treatment for acid reflux. Countless medical articles and studies have proven that this medication only provides temporary relief without addressing the core problem.

Here are a few problems caused by PPIs:

  • Stomach acid is a significant part of your digestive system and your body as a whole. Not only does this acid help to digest food, but it also works to kill bacteria and keep you safe from infections.Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection is one of the main causes of heartburn. PPIs work by reducing your stomach acid. The excessive reduction of your stomach acid makes it harder for your body to kill harmful bacteria and keep you safe. The lowered amounts of stomach acid mean you are more likely to suffer from other bacterial infections, too. Therefore, you may be doing more harm than good by taking PPIs.
  • People who take PPIs can be at a higher risk of food poisoning. This medication can come with a variety of harmful side effects like the weakening of your bones and pneumonia.
  • As you take PPIs drugs, your body builds up a resistance to their effects. If you rely on PPIs and take them regularly, they will begin to lose their effectiveness over time.

Your First Line of Treatment: Eat Healthy Foods

One of the main causes of acid reflux is the types of food you eat. Spicy or fried foods are some of the top culprits for heartburn. The types of beverages you take can also cause acid reflux, with alcohol and caffeinated beverages being high on the list of suspects.

Fortunately, there are ways to change your diet and improve your chances of avoiding acid reflux. Here are some nutritious foods and drinks for you to add to your life today:

1. Ginger Tea to Soothe Your Symptoms

ginger tea
Photo by vanessa lollipop / CC BY-SA

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe any pain. It also helps to neutralize the stomach acid. Here’s how to make a therapeutic ginger tea:

Ingredients

  • A small piece of ginger root, about an inch in length.
  • One cup of water.

Directions

  • Peel and grate the piece of ginger root.
  • Place the grated ginger and a cup of water into a pan on medium heat.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add this mixture to some more boiling water.
  • Allow it to steep for five to seven minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly and enjoy your cup of ginger tea.
  • Drink this tea twice a day.

2. Fennel Seed to Cool Your Heartburn

Fennel seed is another curative natural remedy for heartburn. It contains an ingredient known as anethole, which helps to keep your stomach acid under control and prevent any spasms. This also prevents splashing up your stomach acid to your esophagus.

Ingredients

  • Two tablespoons of fennel seeds.
  • One cup of water.
  • Optional: One teaspoon of local organic honey for sweetness.

Directions

  • Ground the fennel seeds.
  • Put these seeds into a pan with the water.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil and let it steep for five to seven minutes.
  • Strain the mixture and enjoy your fennel tea, adding honey if necessary.

Bonus tip: Chew some fennel seeds as a little snack throughout the day to soothe your stomach.

3. Oatmeal to Help You Cope with Painful Acid Reflux

Oatmeal
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Oatmeal works to treat acid reflux by neutralizing your stomach acids. This calms your digestive system and soothes any inflammation or pain. It also contains an effective antioxidant ingredient called selenium, which protects your esophagus from the harmful effects of acid.

Ingredients

  • One-fourth cup oats or oatmeal.
  • One cup water or milk.
  • Additional toppings, like raisins or ginger pieces.

Directions

  • Place the oats in a pan and heat gently.
  • Add water or milk. If you use milk, try to use low-fat or fat-free.
  • Mix the oatmeal and liquid.
  • Add additional water or milk to achieve the right consistency.
  • Allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  • Add additional toppings, like honey or cinnamon.

Eat this tasty treat for your breakfast each day. It will certainly help with acid reflux.

4. Bananas to Neutralize Stomach Acids Naturally

Bananas are one of the best fruits to eat in order to deal with heartburn. They work to naturally neutralize the acids of your stomach. This prevents acid reflux and make it less painful when it does happen. Bananas are also rich in minerals and vitamins to help your body and digestive system function properly.

Here are a few ways to enjoy a banana.

Ingredient:

  • One ripe banana.

Directions

  • Simply peel the banana and enjoy it as a snack.
  • You could also slice a banana and mix it with your breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
  • Add some banana to your yogurt or smoothies.
  • Try some baked goods with banana as a top ingredient like banana bread or banana muffins.

5. Aloe Juice to Pacify Your Burning Sensations

Aloe vera
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Aloe vera is one of nature’s miraculous plants. Experts use it in many different remedies and healthy products nowadays, thanks to its soothing properties and healing powers.

Aloe vera juice works to provide a barrier on the inside of your esophagus in order to protect it against stomach acid. It also works to calm inflammation and heal any damage that the acid may cause.

Ingredients

  • Aloe juice

You can find aloe juice at health stores and some supermarkets. Try to find a juice that has been specially prepared for internal use.

Directions

  • Start with small doses of aloe juice. Drinking too much can upset your digestive system.
  • Drink one to three ounces of aloe juice each day, preferably 20 minutes before mealtimes. It will provide relief from irritation and soothe burning of the esophagus.
  • Mix it with water or juice, if you don’t like the taste of aloe.

Aloe Cocktail

  • You could also prepare a non-alcoholic aloe cocktail by mixing this juice with several fruit juices. Guava juice is a popular selection.

6. Yogurt to Make Your Digestion Flow Smoothly

Yogurt is rich in ingredients that will help your digestive system stay healthy. This will reduce your chances of heartburn and other digestive disorders

Yogurt is a super healthy food you should include in your diet for a variety of reasons like:

  • Yogurt
    Photo by Schwäbin / CC BY-SA

    It’s an alkaline food, which means it can neutralize stomach acid and ease heartburn pain.

  • It is also rich in healthy bacteria that help your digestive organs to function effectively.
  • Yogurt is also rich in protein, which is vital for building new cells and repairing damaged ones.
  • In addition, it contains high amounts of various minerals like calcium and healthy vitamins too.

There are lots of simple ways to eat yogurt, but one super tip is to make a smoothie. Yogurt smoothies will provide you the benefits of yogurt, combined with the healthy nutrients of a variety of fruit. The added punch of nutritious fruits will give your body a boost.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • Half a cup of fresh plain yogurt.
  • One ripe banana.
  • One ripe peach.
  • One-fourth cup of sliced pineapple.
  • One-fourth cup of fresh mango.
  • Half a cup of ripe strawberries.
  • One teaspoon of sugar or honey to taste.
  • One or two teaspoons of light or fat-free milk.

Directions

  • Wash and peel all of the fruit.
  • Chop off any inedible parts, like the stalks, cores and leaves.
  • Chop the fruit into small pieces and add to a blender with all other ingredients including yogurt.
  • Blend the mixture well and add some honey or sugar if needed.
  • Drink this smoothie for instant heartburn relief.

Have yogurt smoothies regularly to restore and maintain your good health. They will give your body the nutrients it needs to prevent acid reflux in the future.

Bonus tip: You may eat plain yogurt each day with your meals or add it to your cereals.

What Probiotics Can Do to Your Gut

ProbioticsProbiotics-rich foods help keep your digestive system working the way it should. In your intestines, there are countless bacteria, some of these are good bacteria and the others are bad bacteria. They live in a delicate balance; and various triggers like stress, diet and toxins can affect this balance negatively.

To preserve this balance and maintain a large population of good bacteria, you should take probiotics on a regular basis. You can find probiotics in fermented foods. Each type of food will contain different types of probiotic, so it is best to keep your diet varied. You can even make fermented foods at home.

Here are some examples of probiotics:

  • Fermented Vegetables
  • Fish like Swedish Gravlax and Mackerel
  • Kefir, Yogurt and Cream
  • Chutney

Where to Get the Ingredients

You will find many of the ingredients mentioned in these recipes in your local supermarket, nearby farmer’s market or health food store. If you are unable to get any of the hard-to-find ingredients, log on to your favorite online health store.

Kick Acid Reflux Away Forever with Healthy Living

Here are some extra tips to help you stay safe from acid reflux for the long haul:

  • Don’t skip meals. Heartburn usually occurs when you eat large portions. If you skip meals, you will have to compensate by eating a large dinner later in the day. This increases your risk of acid reflux.
  • Don’t eat late at night. Heartburn gets worse when you lie down in bed, so you should avoid eating at this time of evening. Try to keep a good posture during and after meals.
  • Practice Healthy eating. Lower your alcohol intake as this can make acid reflux worse. Reduce the consumption of spicy and fried foods, which are two of the biggest culprits of heartburn.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Drink eight glasses of water each day. You could even drink alkaline water to neutralize your stomach acids.

You will be able to regain control of your life and deal with heartburn when you follow these tips and add healthy foods to your daily diet.

Let’s Recap

healthy life
Photo by Army Medicine / CC BY

A lot of people deal with heartburn without having the knowledge that there are many things they could do to fight it, and get back their healthy life. This condition is painful and uncomfortable, but you don’t have to live with it forever.

Fortunately, there are plenty of curative foods that you can take to eliminate the symptoms of heartburn and even cure it. Include some of these foods in your diet and heal yourself physically and mentally. Soon you will be living a much happier life and enjoying your meals a lot more.