We come across a lot of food that we intake in our bodies regularly. While we all are made differently, our body reacts differently to everything that we consume. Some are allergic to specific foods while some show other ill effects after eating certain eatables. One aftereffect that people experience is acid reflux. Acid reflux is one of the major problems that people face daily.
With the increase of this common problem among people, some preventive measures can be taken to avoid acid reflux. Also, altering our lifestyle and bringing small tweaks to our daily routine can reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
1. What is Acid Reflux?
Before diving in, let’s understand what acid reflux is and how it is caused. Many of you might have felt a burning sensation in your chest, which is what acid reflux feels like. Acid reflux is the flowing back of food from the stomach to the esophagus. When we eat food, it travels through the esophagus and enters the stomach. A stomach is guarded by a sphincter muscle that regulates the passage of food at the junction of the esophagus and stomach.
This sphincter muscle relaxes as the food passes and contracts after the food is entered. But due to some abnormal conditions, this muscle gets relaxed and the food refluxes back into the esophagus. As the stomach acid is highly acidic, the upward flow causes irritation and heartburn. It is seen commonly among people who are imbalanced in their lifestyles. Depending on the person’s body, acid reflux can be caused by various foods and beverages.
The term GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is often misunderstood with acid reflux but acid reflux can be considered as a symptom while GERD is a serious reoccurrence of backflow of stomach acid and is a consequence of continuous acid reflux.
2. What are the Acid Reflux Causes?
As everybody reacts differently to different drinks and foods, each will show distinct symptoms. Many of these symptoms are seen during the evening or at the time of sleeping. Common symptoms that are seen because of acid reflux are a burning sensation or heartburn, pain in the chest, sore throat, and hoarseness. A casual irritation in the abdominal part or maybe an acidic or sore taste in the mouth could be one of the symptoms. Some may experience difficulty in swallowing food.
All these symptoms are felt immediately or at the time of laying. Heartburn remains for several hours and gets more intense after eating spicy food. Some may experience it after eating while some before eating, on an empty stomach. This untreated acid reflux for many years can lead up to dangerous diseases known as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and even cancer.
One more symptom that is caused after some years of the time interval is tooth decay or cavity. Remember an acid can even corrode a metal, so a high acid can even damage a tooth. A cavity is caused due to acid that flows back into the mouth and results in tooth decay. A study shows that dental erosion is found in patients that have Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
All these symptoms are either curable if preventive measures are taken, or if it happens regularly then it will lead to gastro-esophageal reflux disease which will require a visit to a doctor. Emotional stress also causes acid reflux. High levels of anxiety and stress are directly related to symptoms of acid reflux. Many symptoms among them that are mentioned above are visible because of stress and anxiety.
3. Foods and Beverages that Cause Acid Reflux
Many drinks and foods trigger acid reflux. The stomach contains acid that is responsible for breaking down food and aids digestion. It secretes mucus that protects the inner lining of the stomach from this acid. But certain foods and beverages result in problems of high acidic levels. And this acid flows back to the mouth through the esophagus and causes symptoms that are discussed above.
Foods that are spicy, fried, contain oil, and are citric give rise to acid problems. As there is a difference in the reaction of each body, some eatables like chocolates, fatty foods, and onions may also cause acid refluxes. The young generation is fond of eating junk food like pizzas, pasta, potato chips, and alcohol which aggravates symptoms of acidic reflux.
Even drinking hot beverages or teas with high acidic pH also fosters acidic reflux symptoms. Start avoiding mint teas as it will only aggravate acid reflux symptoms. Other drinks that cause acid reflux are carbonated soft drinks, cold drinks, milk chocolate, and ice creams. Moreover, getting used to it and adapting to a poor lifestyle may lead to some serious conditions. Citric fruits and juices may precipitate symptoms of heartburn.
Also, obesity can be one of the factors that cause acid reflux and will lead to GERD. Being obese gives an invitation to several diseases including GERD. Some medicines also create side effects and cause heartburn like aspirin or ibuprofen. It is generally advised to consult a doctor before consuming any medicine.
4. Does Hot Water Help Acid Reflux?
Before discussing whether hot water helps acid reflux, first, it’s important to know the pH scale. Water is a basic liquid with a pH of 7. The products that go above 7 on the pH scale are basic while the ones that go below 7 are acidic.
Water being alkaline in nature prevents the symptom of acid reflux. So yes, drinking warm water helps in the neutralization of stomach acid. It is advised to drink water slowly and regularly. Remember to have warm water and not boiling water as this will aggravate acid reflux, which will cause more irritation.
Laboratory analyses were undertaken that say alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 inactivates pepsin and has acid buffering capacity as well. Therefore, consuming alkaline water may bring some therapeutic advantages for acid reflux patients.
Moreover, adding honey in warm water soothes acid reflux as it keeps the esophagus tract and throat moist. Also, it contains hydrogen peroxide that helps in healing the damage that has been caused by acid reflux. Free radicals are formed in our body and our body generates endogenous antioxidants that neutralize radicals. Radicals are responsible for acid generation. Honey and water, acting as antioxidants, balance out radicals helping in easing acid reflux.
5. Prevention of Symptoms of Acid Reflux
There are some foods and beverages that help in soothing the symptoms immediately or with time. Following are the foods that relieve acid refluxes.
Alkaline foods will neutralize stomach acid and help in the outweigh of high acids. The foods that come under alkaline nature are spinach, bananas, sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower, and cherries.
Non-citric foods like apples, watermelon, and papaya will prevent acid reflux problems and soothe the Herbs and spices like ginger, fennel, cinnamon, and basil will aid digestion and prevent aggravation of acid reflux.
People go around looking for smoothies and other drinks for immediate relief, but they must know that not every drink will bring soothing to the stomach. Drinks that are highly acidic, citric, and hot will only increase the burn instead of calming it down. Following are the drinks that will lead to the prevention of acid reflux.
5.3. Fruit Smoothies
Smoothies that contain non-citric fruit and plant-based milk are good for people who show gastroesophageal reflux disease. OPT for fruits that are low in acid for making smoothies.
5.4. Yogurt with Low Fats
Try consuming healthy fats, it will avoid the acid reflux symptoms. Yogurt containing high fats is hard to digest, increasing the symptoms of GERD. Go for low-fat yogurt to ease the
5.5. Coconut Water
Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes and maintains the balance of pH in the body. It is recommended for every stomach infection as well including diarrhea.
5.6. Fennel Water
This can be another best option to adopt for calming acid reflux symptoms. Either soak it in water or chew the seeds for quick relief.
5.7. Warm Water
Warm water with a drop of honey in it. As discussed above honey and warm water keeps the throat and tract moist and is helpful in acid reflux.
5.8. Ginger Tea
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that will ease heartburn and are good for the lower esophageal sphincter. Ginger is most likely to reduce the flow of acid back into the mouth through the tract. Although ginger is not suitable for many and causes heartburn so try taking it in a small amount at first.
5.9. Almond Milk
The alkaline pH of almond tea helps in the neutralization of stomach acid and causes relief. It is believed that it reduces the symptoms of Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
5.10. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is best for the stomach and other disorders related to the stomach. It contains herbs that are caffeine free and has plenty of healing properties. Many common herbal teas to try out are licorice tea, chamomile tea, and turmeric tea.
5.11. Raw Milk
Raw milk has instant relief from acid reflux. Half a cup of raw milk and half a cup of water in the morning results in the elimination of symptoms of acid reflux over time.
6. Other Preventive Measures That Can Be Taken
While maintaining all these food intakes, one can also adopt small lifestyle changes. By bringing these small tweaks the symptoms of acid reflux can be eliminated.
- Make sure to eat 3 hours before bedtime and avoid eating at the time of sleeping. Let your stomach get empty until you go to sleep. Sleeping with a heavy-filled stomach may trigger heartburn during the night. Also, make sure to eat slowly and not in a hurry.
- After dinner, make a habit of walking for just half an hour. It takes half an hour to walk to digest everything that you have consumed. Sit upright and avoid tilting or sleeping just after eating. This will only aggravate your symptoms of acid reflux.
- Do not skip breakfast as it will make you eat more in a day. Skipping the first meal of your day means that you will end up eating too much in the late evening. It’s important to have all the meals at proper intervals of time.
- Alcohol might trigger heartburn symptoms so limiting its use and consuming it occasionally will help in suppressing acid reflux.
- Elevate your bed slightly while sleeping. Tilt your bed slightly upward around your head region, it will prevent acid to flow reverse in the mouth.
- Keeping records of food that have been eaten will help you to identify which foods are good and which cause reflux problems. This will lead to a better choice of product intake.
- Some medications like omeprazole will cause relief Some proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole are taken to treat heartburn frequently but it is advised to take it under a doctor’s prescription.
- The temporary and instant relief for acid reflux is baking soda because of its antacid properties present because of sodium bicarbonate. This will instantly neutralize the stomach and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Anxiety and stress also go hand in hand with acid reflux. Acquire some stress-relieving measures to avoid regurgitation like meditation and yoga.
Acid reflux can become serious if ignored for a long period. It can be inhibited by taking some preventive measures and changing lifestyles. However, even if you continue experiencing acid reflux, make sure to visit a doctor. Do let me know what changes you experienced after taking these measures.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle, acts as a valve at the opening to your stomach. The LES typically closes as soon as food enters it. Furthermore, the acid produced by your stomach, however, can flow up into your esophagus if it doesn’t completely seal or opens too frequently.
Moreover, this may result in symptoms like heartburn, and a burning chest ache. You might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as acid reflux disease if your symptoms occur more than twice a week.
Suggested Reading: What Does Soda Do to Your Stomach