Did you know that approximately 20% of people in the United States suffer from acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)? It’s a condition that can cause discomfort and inconvenience, including heartburn and difficulty swallowing. If you're one of the millions of people affected by acid reflux, you may have already tried medications to manage your symptoms. However, have you considered exploring natural ways to alleviate your discomfort? Discover these six simple and effective tips that can help you soothe acid reflux symptoms and improve your quality of life.
1. Eat food in moderation and slowly
Eating large meals can increase the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms. Therefore, eating small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day can be helpful. Eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly may also reduce the risk of acid reflux symptoms. It is also advisable to avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime reduce the risk of reflux during sleep.
2. Reduce your daily consumption of coffee or tea.
Coffee and tea are known to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux. Although there is no conclusive evidence, several studies suggest that coffee and caffeine may worsen acid reflux for some people. Therefore, limiting your daily coffee or tea intake or avoiding it altogether may be beneficial.
3. Quit smoking
Nicotine found in cigarettes may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can contribute to acid reflux symptoms. Additionally, smoking decreases saliva production, increases gastric acid secretion, and can lead to inflammation of the esophagus, all of which can worsen acid reflux. Quitting smoking can improve acid reflux symptoms and provide numerous health benefits.
4. Rest on your left side while sleeping
Sleeping on the left side can reduce acid exposure in the esophagus by up to 71%. This position is more beneficial than sleeping on the right side since the esophagus enters the right side of the stomach. Sleeping on the left side allows the lower esophageal sphincter to sit above the level of stomach acid, decreasing the risk of reflux.
5. Limit high-fat foods
Fried foods and fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, and pizza may trigger GERD symptoms such as heartburn. High-fat foods can cause bile salts to be released into the digestive tract, which may irritate the esophagus and relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents back into the esophagus. Eating fats in moderation from healthy sources, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and monounsaturated fats from olive oil or avocados, may be beneficial.
6. Have an earlier dinner
Eating a large meal within 3 hours before bedtime can make digestion more difficult, potentially worsening GERD symptoms. Therefore, it is advisable to eat dinner earlier and wait at least 2-3 hours before lying down. This allows the stomach to empty partially, reducing the risk of reflux during sleep.
In conclusion, acid reflux is a common condition that can cause discomfort and inconvenience. While medications are available to manage acid reflux, natural ways such as eating sparingly and slowly, limiting coffee and tea intake, quitting smoking, sleeping on the left side, limiting high-fat foods, and eating dinner earlier can also help alleviate symptoms. Incorporating these natural remedies into your lifestyle can improve your overall health and quality of life.
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El-Serag HB, Sweet S, Winchester CC, Dent J. Update on the epidemiology of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. Gut. 2014;63(6):871–880. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2012-304269