Heartburn and acid reflux reduce the quality of life for millions of people. The majority of people self-treat their symptoms and spend over 1.2 billion dollars on over-the-counter antacid and indigestion products every year! These products are not without risk. One study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that seniors are at a greater risk for bone fractures while on these ‘proton-pump’ inhibitors such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid. There is a lot you can do naturally to reduce or eliminate acid reflux and natural should always be the first step before taking drugs. I am outlining 10 foods that reduce acid reflux so you can get an understanding of how foods and supplements can heal and make a substantial difference in the quality of your life.
What is Gastric Reflux and GERD?
Many people confuse acid reflux with GERD and use the terms interchangeably, but although they are closely related they are different problems.
- Acid reflux is when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. During an episode of acid reflux, you taste regurgitated food or sour liquid at the back of the throat and possibly a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn).
- GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. Frequent heartburn is one of the symptoms of GERD, so is difficulty swallowing, chest pain and wheezing. The symptoms get worse at night while lying down.
There is another form of reflux and that is called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. LPR is a condition where the backflow of food or stomach acid goes into the voice box or the throat. This can happen during the day or at night. Knowing you have LPR can be confusing because most people do not have heartburn and that is because the material does not back up all the way to the esophagus, just to the throat and voice box. It’s still a serious condition because the throat and voice box tissues are more sensitive to injury and irritation.
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux and GERD
As I explained earlier, acid reflux and GERD are slightly different. GERD being the chronic condition. So GERD symptoms will have all of the symptoms of reflux, plus long-term symptoms.
- Heartburn (Reflux and GERD)
- Chest pain (Reflux and GERD)
- Pain after eating (Reflux and GERD)
- Bitter taste in mouth (Reflux and GERD)
- Sore Throat (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, Reflux and GERD)
- Hoarseness (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, Reflux and GERD)
- Nausea (GERD)
- Trouble swallowing (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, GERD)
- Sleep Disturbances (Reflux and GERD)
- Cough (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, GERD)
- Sinusitis (GERD)
- Asthma (GERD)
- Middle ear infection (GERD)
- Lung disease (GERD)
- Barrett’s Esophagus (GERD)
- Esophageal cancer (GERD, long-term GERD with Barrett’s esophagus)
All of the above symptoms can be indicative of all digestive reflux disease as with other medical conditions, so it’s always prudent to check with your health professional.
The Gerdq is a diagnostic questionnaire given to patients when GERD is suspected. Answer these questions with how many days a week you experience symptoms. Add up your points and then compare to the note at the bottom of the chart.
The Importance Of Healing Reflux and GERD
Acid reflux can turn into chronic GERD. As I mentioned before, millions of Americans self-treat their acid reflux symptoms. This is not wise as the root cause is never addressed and over-the-counter acid blockers can destroy the digestive system and its delicate acid, enzyme, and bacterial balance.
Untreated or self-treated reflux that turns into chronic GERD can result in damage to the esophagus leading to Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a condition where damage and inflammation occur in the esophagus and is associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. This is a rare occurrence but should be taken seriously.
Any damage to the esophagus and throat should be addressed immediately. To protect the delicate tissues of the esophagus, supplements that pose as a barrier to the area are important to take while healing your reflux and GERD. Life Extension carries products that protect and heal.
Doctors may prescribe pills that do not address the root cause. When prescription medications are stopped, symptoms usually reappear after a time. Acid suppression therapies found in antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and histamine 2 receptor blockers can interfere with the absorption of nutrients like iron, vitamin B12 and calcium carries its own risks.
Problems like anemia increases with lack of iron absorption. Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with elevated homocysteine levels which are a risk factor for heart disease. Impaired calcium absorption carries a risk of deadly hip fracture. So as you can see, medications to manage GERD and reflux come with risks of future health challenges.
Foods That Reduce Acid Reflux and GERD
Studies suggest that more than 27% of GERD patients test positive for food allergies and avoiding these allergenic foods resulting in symptom improvement (Pomiecinski 2010). Food plays a huge part in the development, progression, and reduction of reflux and GERD. Knowing what foods help and what foods contribute or exacerbate problems is very important to manage your condition.
We think that symptoms of heartburn are due to too much stomach acid, but that is not the case for many. Too little stomach acid is also a contributor. How can that be you ask? Stomach acid is needed to emulsify food once in the stomach. Once the food is emulsified, it moves forward to the small intestines. Everything is propelled in a forward motion. If there is not enough stomach acid to propel the food forward, it backs up into the esophagus.
Foods to eat when TOO MUCH stomach acid is suspected in reflux and GERD
1.Vegetables – include more vegetables in your diet. Preferably with every meal you have. Vegetables help reduce stomach acid because they are naturally low in acid and buffer the acid level. Try green vegetables with every meal like green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and cucumbers.
2.Oatmeal – Oatmeal is low in acid and actually absorbs the acidity from other foods.
3.Rice and Couscous – choose brown rice over white rice for extra fiber. Rice and couscous are very soothing foods for the digestive tract and will not contribute to reflux
4.Potatoes – low in acid and easy to digest.
5.Egg Whites – are low in acid and a good source of protein to replace meat with, which is high in acid. Stay away from the yolks, as they are high in acid.
6.Melons and Bananas – Fruit can be acidic, but melons and bananas are low in acid and can be eaten without triggering reflux.
Foods To Eat When TOO LITTLE Stomach Acid Is Suspected in reflux and GERD
7. Drink Celery Juice – or eat celery with every meal. Celery juice replaces salts and enzymes and will calm reflux. Drink it every day preferably on an empty stomach.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar – Drink before meals to increase acidity to help digest your food and reduce reflux.
10.Fermented Veggies – Foods like Kimchi, Sauer kraut, fermented pickles, fermented veggies improve digestive juices because they contain acids, enzymes, and natural probiotics.
Acid reflux and GERD are used interchangeably when in fact there are some differences. GERD is the more chronic and long term condition of reflux.
It is important not to self-treat reflux as millions of Americans do today since chronic GERD can result. Chronic GERD is associated with esophageal damage leading to Barrett’s syndrome which can result in esophageal cancer.
Drugs to manage reflux can cause nutrient deficiencies leading to other health conditions. It’s important to change your diet and add in those foods that are known to help calm reflux if you know your reflux is caused by either too much or too little stomach acid.
Read here for more information about supplements to heal GERD and reflux.
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