Acid Reflux Do's & Don'ts!

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Burning sensations, heartburn, chest pains, vomiting, difficulty swallowing and acidic sensations and or throat discomfort, as well as stomach upset, is known as acid reflux, termed as Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). Is a common public problem with more than one-third of the population suffering. This happens when stomach acid travels up into the oesophagus (where it's not supposed to be!) causing these symptoms. This often happens as an outcome of the ring of the stomach muscle (lower oesophagal sphincter LES- which usually opens after a meal and then closes) failing to close appropriately. Or may remain open, even after we have finished eating a meal. Thus, allowing the reflux of gastric acid excretions to travel from the stomach into the oesophagus. What are the common lifestyle or condition risk factors? Avoid eating large meals before bedtime and especially lying down after a meal. 2-3 hours before minimum. Certain foods may trigger an attack such as tomato, chocolate, mint, spicy and fatty foods, citrus, garlic and onions. These foods are able to relax the oesophagal sphincter. Don’t underestimate stress! Coffee especially on an empty stomach (think mornings). Gluten- in celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption particularly on an empty stomach. Failing to chew food adequately (remember your stomach and large intestine don’t have teeth!). If you’re pregnant, speak to your practitioner on practising meal planning and timing. Certain medical conditions including; asthma, ascites, hiatus hernia. Certain medications may cause acid reflux such as aspirin, blood pressure medications, ibuprofen and muscle relaxants. (It's worth speaking to your GP).

What You'll Need

  • Pair of teeth! Chewing food is as important as the nutrients in the food itself. The simple act of chewing properly enables the body to release digestive enzymes assisting in the breakdown of nutrients and vitamins so the body can utilize them efficiently. This will reduce acid reflux attacks by supporting the digestive process, another plus is reducing the likelihood for bloating and gas! (due to less excessive bacteria remaining in the intestines which is a result when food is un-chewed properly)
  • Most research that is done on GERD points to a highly processed diet as a contributing factor. However, “healthy” foods may also provoke an attack, therefore, eliminating them for only a short amount of time will improve symptoms. Tomato, chocolate, mint, spicy and fatty foods, citrus, garlic and onions. These foods are able to relax the oesophagal sphincter. But not long term! Then further reintroducing them slowly.
  • Bone broth (amino acids which aid in healing the gut lining, glutamine).
  • Kefir and yoghurt if you’re not dairy intolerant (important to balance healthy bacteria in the stomach and colon which improves overall digestion and soothing of the digestive tract).
  • 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey a day.
  • Wild caught salmon.
  • Green leafy vegetables; artichoke, asparagus, cucumber.
  • Potatoes (boiled).
  • Apple cider vinegar (although contradicting!) it has been shown to balance stomach acid and lessen symptoms of acid reflux, mixing one tablespoon with a cup of water prior to eating. However, please avoid this in an attack but implementing it in your routine for prevention.
  • Supplements that may improve acid reflux symptoms:
  • Digestive enzymes, probiotics, HCL (betaine hydrochloride), chamomile tea, L Glutamine, magnesium complex, ginger or papaya tea and even melatonin in some cases.
  • Supplements which contain marshmallow and slippery elm are two herbal remedies known for their mucosal protective properties and are able to soothe and protect mucous barriers.
  • Warm cooled down liquorice tea or capsule on an empty stomach.
  • Please do consult with your healthcare practitioner as these herbs and liquorice may be contraindicated with high blood pressure, and the absorption of medications.
  • Look into digestive enzymes with meals to support digestive functioning.

What You'll Do

  • Avoid eating at least 2 to 3 hours before laying down.
  • Find ways to relax and schedule “you” time with deep abdominal breaths 5 times.
  • Avoiding very hot drinks.
  • Avoid eating when stressed- the environment you eat in should not be rushed and stressful.
  • Elevating your head with around 2 pillows before bedtime or finding a way to raise your bed 15-20cm under your mattress. The intention is to get your head and chest above your waist to avoid acid coming back up.
  • Wear looser clothing around the abdomen and pants.
  • Reduce heavy meals especially in one seating.
  • Manage stress.
  • Don’t bend over and eat.
  • Reduce smoking and try and stop.
  • Increase protein (amino acids) in the diet to 0.8-1.2 per kg to safeguard the manufacture of connective tissue.
  • Increase fresh fruit (avoiding citrus) and vegetables, however, chewing carefully is highly recommended.
  • Slowly adding in dietary fibre as this has been shown to correlate with lower GORD percentages.
  • There is conflicting evidence, however, certain nutrients such a zinc and B3, B1 and B6 may support digestion, so incorporating these in food form in the diet may benefit. (chicken, eggs, brown rice).
  • Pure organic aloe vera juice may reduce inflammation in the stomach (duodenum).

Tips & Warnings

  • Please consult your health practitioner if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week constantly, GERD may result in serious problems that ought to be addressed. Certain vitamins, minerals and herbs may contraindicate with certain health conditions and medication. Please revise this with your health practitioner. For example, aloe vera and liquorice is contraindicated in high blood pressure and pregnancy. Melatonin is contraindicated with sleep medications and some SSRs. Keynote: no supplement should replace nutrition. Supplements should always be monitored by a healthcare professional and not to be taken for more than a month.
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