Acid Reflux: Causes & Self Care Remedies
One of the most commonly and frequently experienced ailments in the modern world is Acid Reflux.
Like its name suggests, it is literally the process of acidic digestive juices creeping up out of your stomach into the esophagus or throat area, usually due to the indigestion of food.
In order to get relief from the irritating symptoms, out of habit, most people normally reach for common OTC’s medications such as "antacids".
But as is the case with most pharmaceuticals, this only really addresses the symptoms temporarily and will likely cause 'side-effects' such as headaches, muscle cramps, rapid heart rate etc. and fails to get to the root cause of the problem.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux, also referred to as heartburn - despite this name - does not affect the heart.
Acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down and can last for up to a few hours. It’s most common after overeating, when bending over or when lying down.
Most people think that acid reflux is caused by the overeating of acidic foods like fruit, when the opposite is true. Acidic foods actually cause the body to produce alkaline which restores pH balance.
The real cause of acid reflux is typically the over consumption of foods like meat, processed sugar and refined grains which sends the digestive system into overwhelm. If you suffer from Acid Reflux, these are the foods you should immediately avoid - at least until the symptoms subside.
Symptoms & Signs of Acid Reflux
- Burning sensation in the lower chest
- Bitter or sour taste in the mouth and throat
- Bad breath
- Waking up with a choking or coughing feeling
- Bloating, gas, burping & hiccups
- Vomiting up of blood
- Dry, sore or irritated throat.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
When you eat, food passes from your mouth into a tube (about 10 inches long), called the oesophagus.
Before entering the stomach, food travels through an opening at the end of the oesophagus. This opening acts like a gate, which allows food to pass into the stomach.
The opening to the stomach closes as soon as food passes through. If the opening does not close - often due to overeating - the stomach will over produce acid to try and deal with the problem, causing the acid to leak up into the oesophagus.
A hiatal hernia can also cause acid reflux. This is a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm and into the chest.
Other factors which can contribute include:
- Digestive Problems that are not addressed
- Smoking cigarettes
Foods to Avoid
Due to their artificial and heavily processed nature, many "food products" not only cause inflammation but can also contribute to and exacerbate acid reflux. These include:
- Processed meats like salami, bacon, sausage etc.
- Processed sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Refined wheat e.g. white flour, bread and packaged cereals
- Deep Fried Foods
- Hydrogenated oils.
Having occasional symptoms of acid reflux is not very serious. However, if it continues to persist, it can lead to more serious problems.
Oesophagitis, an inflamed lining of the oesophagus, can lead to bleeding and trouble swallowing.
Acid reflux can also be a sign of stomach ulcers.
What about Antacids?
Antacids can neutralise the acid in your stomach for short-term relief. However, they contain aluminium hydroxide and other additives that can lead to a whole host of "side effects" like diarrhoea, headaches and neurotoxic effects of the brain and nervous system.
Self Care Tips & Natural Remedies
Like with most ailments and dis-eases, if you experience regular bouts of Acid Reflux, addressing your lifestyle is a good place to start by embracing the 7 Principles of Health as much as you can.
- Don't overeat. Stop eating once you're satisfied
- Change your eating habits. Switch to at least an 80% Plant-Based Diet by eating more fresh fruits and raw salads, including lots of avocados, ginger root, cucumbers and parsley
- Eat a small raw selection of fresh salad greens before eating your main meal (add a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt)
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Chew your food well
- Maintain an exercise program that includes walking, biking, or low-impact aerobics. Avoid running and weightlifting, as these activities put pressure on the stomach. Exercise on an empty stomach, not immediately after eating.
- Avoid stress by practicing some kind of daily meditation that includes centred breathing or any low impact exercise that emphasises breath, like tai chi or yoga
- Do not consume chemically infused caffeine products, carbonated beverages, fried foods, processed foods, refined sugar or tobacco
- Do not eat for three hours before bedtime. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down
- Do not take any multi-enzyme complex containing hydrochloric acid (HCl)
- Avoid wearing clothes with tight waistlines and belts that are too tight
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Raise the head of your bed by placing four-to-six-inch blocks under the legs at the bed’s head.
Remedies that can help relieve Acid Reflux:
Drink a glass of clean water, followed by a mix of 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda in a half glass of water
Drink a glass of fresh cabbage or celery juice (do this every day if you experience regular heart burn)
Eat a fresh papaya and/or pineapple to aid digestion. Chew a few of the papaya seeds as well
Sip one tablespoon of raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar, mixed with a glass of water, while eating a meal. Do not drink any other liquids with meals
Try raw potato juice. Do not peel the potato – just wash it and put it in the juicer. Mix with equal parts water. Drink it immediately after preparation, up to three times daily
A piece of organic, naturally fermented cheese (with no animal rennet) or a small bowl of yogurt can help create quick relief also because it stabilises the acidity in the stomach.
Kick Up Your Intake of 'Good' Fats
If you’re suffering from acid reflux, one of the best things you can do is to kick up your intake of healthy cold-pressed plant oils, like Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Macadamia Oil and Flaxseed Oil.
Cook with Coconut Oil because it has a high heat point, use the others on raw salads and/or have a shot glass of each morning and also before bed time.
Essential Oils to Prevent and Relieve Acid Reflux
Essential Oils have been revered for centuries for their use as "natural medicine".
Certain oils are particularly effective for preventing and relieving Acid Reflux symptoms, including, Lemon, Peppermint, Ginger, Fennel and Lavender.
- Use a drop or two of Lemon, Ginger or Peppermint Oil into warm water and sip as a 'tea' to relieve digestive issues and stomach aches which are often associated with heartburn and acid reflux. These oils help block acid production and suppress 'bad bacteria' activity in the stomach
- Digest Zen is a blend of Ginger, Fennel and Coriander and is very effective for soothing an upset stomach and to help maintain a healthy digestive system
- Lavender Oil is a staple in aromatherapy and is useful in calming and relaxing spasms commonly associated with reflux. Add a few drops to a diffuser at night next to your bed and/or add a few drops of Lavender to your pillow case before sleep.
By making some simple lifestyle adjustments, paying attention to the quality and quantity of what you eat and by embracing some of these tips, you'll soon find that Acid Reflux is a thing of the past.