I have been getting a lot of requests regarding whether my turmeric-ginger elixirs could help with acid reflux. I don’t know too much about this gastro-esophageal issue but I do know that diet can really affect it. As it is an inflammatory condition, turmeric and ginger root may help, but here are some other dietary suggestions. There are several foods to avoid if you have GERD or occasional acid reflux and other foods that can really help.
What is acid reflux?
It is caused by the sphincter muscle of the esophagus becoming too relaxed, causing food and stomach acid to push back up rather than staying where it is supposed to be – in the stomach. Some acid reflux (heartburn) is normal but 20 per cent of the North American population have this condition chronically and when it is diagnosed by a doctor it is often referred to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Symptoms include heartburn (pain in one's chest or stomach), and sour or bitter liquid in the throat or mouth in addition to food particles that may come back up. The combination of heartburn and regurgitation is a common characteristic of GERD. Difficulty swallowing, coughing, increased saliva production and shortness breath are additional symptoms. They tend to be worse at nighttime and especially after a big meal or a meal of food that is known to aggravate and damage the esophagus. Medications can be taken (antacids which often stop working over time) and surgery may be suggested when antacids don’t work any more. Long-term use of antacids can cause the stomach to produce even more acid which can damage the kidneys over time.
Diet plays such a major role in preventing and controlling acid reflux and should be the first line of therapy. This condition is largely avoidable if you are mindful of what you put in your body.
Foods that can cause or aggravate acid reflux:
-All carbonated beverages (especially those packed with sugar)
-Coffee and other caffeine products
-High fat dairy (particularly cheese)
-Fried foods and high-fat diets (keto)
-Pizza and other fast foods
-Potato chips and other processed snacks
-Pepperoni sticks, bacon, sausages and other fatty meat
-Tomatoes and tomato-based sauces
Foods that calm the acid reflux condition:
-Ginger (organic root) in a tea
-Baking soda water to alkalize your system (gross but works).
-Apple Cider vinegar in small amounts mixed with warm water.
-Lemon juice in warm water with some honey
-A glass of milk (but not full fat which could aggravate)
-Peanut butter may help (have a bit before bedtime on a banana).
-Licorice supplements (be careful if you have high blood pressure because licorice can raise it)
-Herbal teas with Lemon Balm, Licorice and Milk Thistle
The following foods can actually help to prevent GERD and acid reflux:
Please make sure to include them in your diet on a daily basis:
- High Fibre Foods such as whole flake oatmeal, couscous and brown rice, root veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots and beets), and green veggies like asparagus, broccoli and green beans…
- Alkaline Foods that don’t cause your body to become acidic, such as bananas, melons, cauliflower, fennel and nuts… (The internet has lists of alkaline foods to help restore ph balance to the body)
- Watery Foods like broth based soups, herbal teas, lettuce, cucumber and celery…
Some other tips to avoid acid reflux:
-Chew your food until you are drinking it
-Don’t eat after 7 p.m. or at least three hours before you go to bed
-Give up the late-night snacks and late dinners (especially containing problematic foods)
-Eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than big heavy ones (especially in the evening)
-Wear comfortable looser fitting clothes. (rather than tight clothes)
-Have proper posture during the day and elevate your body at bedtime
-Lose weight, as excess body fat puts pressure on the stomach, contributing to acid backflow
-Diabetics are more prone to GERD and acid reflux so control your blood sugars
Our diet is the first thing to consider when dealing with these conditions but GERD is a more serious manifestation of chronic acid reflux and could require medical intervention. Heartburn every so often is normal, but if it gets worse at night or is accompanied by chest, jaw, or arm pain, excessive cough, problems swallowing, loss of voice or sudden weight loss, consult a doctor immediately.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca. The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment.