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Most people experience heartburn at some point or another. You’re probably familiar with the burning sensation in your chest or sour taste in your throat after eating something your body doesn't agree with.
For some people, acid reflux is more than an occasional discomfort. Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and is caused by a lower esophageal sphincter that doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus.
GERD causes a range of unpleasant symptoms, including heartburn, chest pain, nausea, bad breath, and difficulty swallowing. Acid reflux can make it difficult for sufferers to eat and sleep, in addition to causing long-term damage to the esophagus and teeth.
The Problem with Conventional GERD Treatments
There are some possible dangers of omeprazole, a GERD medication that's one of the most commonly-prescribed drugs in the U.S. Despite its warning that omeprazole shouldn't be used for more than eight weeks, many people take omeprazole long-term. Some studies have suggested long-term use might lead to complications including liver damage, kidney disease, chronic inflammation, and disruption of the gut flora. However, researchers have noted that there need to be more studies conducted. Omeprazole isn't the only GERD treatment with risks. Antacid tablets and antacid liquids like Mylanta may also worsen acid reflux symptoms, among other side effects, when used long-term.
How to Find Natural Relief from Acid Reflux
How can GERD sufferers find relief from acid reflux without problematic medications?
Cultivate a healthy gut microbiome
When you want to combat acid reflux, start at the source: your gut. An unhealthy gut microbiome causes inflammation and acidification, leading to health problems like heartburn, weight gain, and even depression. In addition to avoiding acid reflux medications, which decrease the diversity of gut flora, diet is key to cultivating a healthy gut. Eating plenty of raw prebiotic fibers and cultured foods creates an environment where healthy flora can thrive.
Change the way you eat
Eating more fiber is a smart choice for nearly everyone: Most Americans eat less than half the recommended amount of fiber, according to Harvard Medical School. This leads to an increase in health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer. Low fiber consumption is also linked to acid reflux, whereas increased fiber intake improves symptoms.
That's just one change that can improve life with acid reflux. In addition to eating more fiber, these dietary changes help manage GERD:
Eat frequent small meals and healthy snacks instead of three big meals. Avoid snacks with added sugar or salt and instead, opt for fiber- and protein-rich snacks like hard-boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and vegetables with hummus.
Avoid foods and drinks that trigger acid reflux symptoms, including acidic, fried, fatty, spicy, minty, carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic products. Opt for healthy cooking methods like sauteing, roasting, braising, or baking instead of frying.
Eat alkaline foods to offset stomach acid. Bananas, melons, cucumbers, greens, nuts, and legumes are examples of alkaline foods.
Don't eat before bed. Timing the largest meal earlier in the day and avoiding late-night snacking reduce the likelihood of nighttime GERD symptoms. Sleeping on the left side and raising the head of the bed also provides relief.
Acid reflux causes inflammation in the esophagus, but that's not the only link between inflammation and GERD. Inflammation is also a cause of GERD in some patients, research suggests. That makes fighting inflammation a top priority whether you're seeking to heal the inflammation and irritation caused by GERD or stop acid reflux at the source.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Limit processed foods, refined sugar, trans fat, and red meat.
Lose weight. Inflammation and acid reflux are more common in people who are overweight.
Stop smoking and moderate alcohol consumption. In addition to other negative health effects, these vices contribute to inflammation.
Reduce stress. While some stress is inevitable, chronic stress contributes to inflammation. Regular yoga practice is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve well-being.
Try acu-therapy to tame systemic inflammation. Achieving results from acu-therapy doesn't require needles or electric shocks.
Don't automatically reach for over-the-counter and prescription medication the next time acid reflux strikes. Try the above methods to see if your acid reflux is reduced. If you can’t relieve your acid reflux and GERD by these means, consult your trusted doctor or medical professional.
This informative article is brought to you by Health Care New York.