Acid Reflux: Causes & Self Care Remedies
One of the most common and frequently experienced ailments in the modern world is Acid Reflux.
Like its name suggests, Acid Reflux 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.
The main problem these days, is that it's so easy to treat the irritating symptoms with an over-the-counter drug, such as an "antacid", without consciously thinking about the potential side-effects.
Like all synthetic medications, this type of drug will only provide short term relief to a bigger problem that could be handled naturally, without recurring problems or common side-effects such as headaches, muscle cramps, diarrhoea and metabolic changes.
Further problems that can be caused if antacids are used often, include kidney disease due to excess magnesium, and calcium loss which can lead to weak bones.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux, also often referred to as heartburn, does not actually affect the heart.
Acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), usually occurs after overeating, while lying down in a "food coma" and can last for up to a few hours.
Most people think that acid reflux is caused by overeating acidic foods like fruit, when the opposite is true. The natural acids in foods like citrus, actually help to stimulate the digestive process and have an "alkalising" rather than an "acidic" effect once inside the stomach.
The real cause of acid reflux is typically the over consumption of very concentrated foods like meat, processed sugar and refined grains which particularly when combined together in large amounts, can send the digestive system into overwhelm.
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.
Specifically, How Does Acid Reflux Form?
When you eat, food passes from your mouth into a tube (about 10 inches long), called the esophagus.
Before entering the stomach, food travels through an opening at the end of the esophagus. 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 esophagus.
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.
Foods to Avoid
Due to their highly concentrated and chemical nature, many processed foods not only cause inflammation, but they can also contribute to and exacerbate acid reflux. These food categories include:
- Processed meats like salami, bacon, sausage etc.
- Processed sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Refined wheat e.g. white flour, bread and packaged cereals
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils, including margarine, shortening and deep fried take-away foods.
Having occasional symptoms of acid reflux is not very serious. However, if it continues to persist, it can lead to more serious problems.
Esophagitis, 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 as mentioned, as well as having neurotoxic effects on the brain and nervous system.
Self Care Tips & Natural Remedies
As with most ailments and every day discomforts, if you experience regular bouts of Acid Reflux, addressing your lifestyle and the causative factors is a good place to start.
Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux
- Don't overeat at meal time. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and stop eating once you're satisfied
- Change your broad eating habits. Add more raw living foods into your diet in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. Switch to at least an 80% Plant-Based Diet and load up on raw salads, smoothies and soups that are easy to digest
- Eat plenty of good fats including Avocados, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Raw Coconut Oil. If you're going to eat dairy products like butter, yogurt, cheeses and milk, be sure to choose "whole" varieties that are grass-fed organic
- Start each heavy meal with a handful of greens or a small salad of raw vegetables such lettuce, rocket, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, walnuts dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and fresh herbs. This will provide healthy, high water content fibres into your digestive tract before the more concentrated food arrives, and will take the edge off your hunger in time for the heavier meal
- Maintain a moderate exercise program that includes walking, biking, swimming or low-impact aerobics that keeps your body and digestive system functioning well. Exercise on an empty stomach whenever you can, 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. Breathe deeply into the diaphragm
- Drink alcohol only in moderation and with meals only. Choose preservative and additive-free wines and beers that are made without chemicals
- Do not eat immediately before bed time. It's best to aim to eat at least 2-3 hours before lying down as much as possible and to move your body lightly after a heavy meal.
Natural Remedies To 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 celery juice daily on an empty stomach if you experience regular heart burn
Eat fresh papaya or pineapple regularly as they are particularly helpful for soothing and relieving digestive discomforts and ongoing ailments. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to papaya before eating (optional)
Mix 1 Tablespoon of raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar, into a glass of water and drink 30-45 minutes before a heavy meal. Also can be taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning regularly for fantastic everyday digestive health benefits
Eat a small amount of organic cheese or yogurt (choose coconut versions if you're vegan). These can offer quick relief because they stabilise the acidity in the stomach.
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 proprietary special dōTERRA essential oil 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.
The Main Takeaway
Acid Reflux is a common problem that can be avoided and relieved naturally without the need for over the counter medication.
Avoiding Acid Reflux is in the first place, is the smartest plan by being extra conscious of how much you eat, when you eat, and the combination of foods you mix together - all of which can greatly impact your body's digestive response following meal time.
If acid reflux rears its head, now you have many tips in your tool box that you can access and try for yourself to soothe the problem without the need for antacids or another form of synthetic drug, that won't actually stop the cycle of acid reflux and heart burn.
Tolman Self Care.