Up to 30% of people in North America experience gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. They deal with uncomfortable symptoms, including burning sensations in the chest and throat, chest pains, and trouble after eating certain foods. One cause of digestion trouble is acid reflux, which occurs when the lower part of the esophagus fails to function properly. Mounting research suggests that dietary modifications can allay acid reflux symptoms.
A 2018 scientific review in Gut and Liver noted that obesity is a significant risk factor for acid reflux. This article mentions a large study in which women who lowered their BMI also experienced a 40% reduction in acid reflux symptoms. Including leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards, and lettuce in an acid reflux diet can add volume, nutrients, and fiber to meals. These foods promote satiety and even help burn fat. Some people with GERD may better tolerate these vegetables cooked, as raw salads may aggravate the heartburn.
PeopleImages / Getty Images
H. pylori is the most prevalent pathogenic bacteria in humans, often present in the esophagus and stomach. This microbe inhibits stomach acid secretion and is linked to acid reflux and other digestive symptoms. Coconut oil is a healthy fat with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. A few small studies suggest that lauric acid in coconut oil can help reduce H. pylori overgrowth, while also soothing the gut and healing esophageal damage. Caution: use coconut and other oils in small quantities, as too much fat and fatty foods can actually aggravate GERD.
Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi are zesty sources of probiotics that enhance gut health. Research suggests that probiotics can help prevent regurgitation and strengthen the stomach lining. Fermented vegetables can help restore balance to the intestinal flora. Fermenting at home is quite easy and a good way to ensure that the food is free of undesirable additives, which could destroy the beneficial probiotics.
Inflammation in the esophagus is a prevalent characteristic of acid reflux. Ginger is a rich source of antioxidants and other phenolic compounds that curb inflammation and digestive upset. The spice also helps curtail nausea and muscle pain. Research on ginger for acid reflux is limited. However, the plant has been an integral ingredient in folk medicine around the world since ancient times, and many nutritionists recommend ginger in various forms for relief. Moderation is crucial, however, as overconsumption may exacerbate symptoms. Dried ginger and fermented ginger is often better tolerated than raw ginger.
Turmeric, a spice related to ginger, is famous for its bioactive compound curcumin. Clinical studies indicate that this powerful nutrient has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent acid reflux and help mitigate its impact on the body. Research also shows that curcumin can protect the stomach lining from the side effects of the painkillers.
The microbiome within the gastrointestinal tract requires a delicate balance. When the population of beneficial bacteria is low and harmful bacteria are thriving, a slew of health issues, including acid reflux, may result. A 2017 study in Microorganisms observed that fermented dairy products provide an infusion ofmicrobes(friendly bacteria) that can boost gut health. Look for products that do not contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Consuming an acid to counteract acid reflux may seem contradictory, but the condition often results from low levels of stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar contains an abundance of enzymes and probiotics that help balance stomach acid and relieve acid reflux symptoms. Use apple cider vinegar cautiously, as some people may benefit from it, while others may experience symptom aggravation. Start with one teaspoon of ACV to eight ounces of water and drink just before meals for best results. Gradually, you may be able to increase the dose to one or two tablespoons a day.
Bone broths are flavorful and loaded with dozens of nutrients that help strengthen the digestive tract. Boiling and simmering bones releases proteins (including collagen), trace minerals, and other nutrients in easily digestible forms. These compounds enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and help build the lining of the digestive tract. A Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology study reported that gelatin and tannic acid in bone broth have remarkable antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. To obtain genuine bone broth without additives, make it at home or use protein powder made from bones that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Adding vegetables such as garlic, onions, celery, and carrots can boost the nutritive benefits of bone broth for acid reflux relief.
Ancient Egyptians used aloe vera topically and orally for various ailments. With its generous load of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, the juice of the plant can provide relief for a plethora of health conditions. Aloe vera juice can reduce inflammation to calm an irritated esophagus. One study found that aloe vera syrup can help reduce the frequency of GERD symptoms, and is safe, with no adverse events reported.
MarsBars / Getty Images
Honey makes a sweet and healthy addition to an acid reflux diet. It has been a natural source of relief for thousands of years, and research attests to its manifold health benefits. It is another source of antioxidants and anti-inflammation compounds. With its high density, honey can stick to the esophagus and coat the mucous membrane in the digestive tract to soothe and help heal tissues.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.