If you have ever felt something like a knife scraping out your chest area from inside you are perhaps one of the four in ten who experience acid reflux and its close cousin, heartburn.
Heartburn tends to be less severe, sometimes just a pressure or pain in the chest area but they are both caused by the same thing: acid from your stomach getting past the valve to your stomach (called the esophageal sphincter) and into your esophagus.
This condition is not just very uncomfortable. If it persists the acid can damage both the valve (which can cause more of the same symptom) or it can damage the esophagus itself.
Esophageal cancer risk is also increased by this situation.
There are two ways to approach this situation. The short term solution for getting rid of the discomfort, which can include medication, and a longer more holistic approach, which can include learning how to improve digestion.
Luckily the diet for acid reflux fits into both plans!
This standard list of foods are high in fat and protein foods that stay in your stomach a long time which increases the chances of building up acid. Other foods are known to stimulate or irritate the stomach.
These have been proven scientifically to trigger heartburn.
2. Chocolate is high in stimulants, fat and cocoa, all increase reflux. Sorry, even healthy chocolate is a problem here.
3. Deep friend food
4. Coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated)
5. Alcohol – especially wine.
Other foods that people have found to increase the problem are:
7. High-fat dairy products
8. High-fat meats – beef, pork, and lamb stay in the stomach longer
9. Citrus fruits and juices
12. Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, including pizza
13. Spicy food
Note: Everyone is different and everyone will respond differently to these foods.
Acid Reflux Diet: Foods to Eat
- Whole grains: oatmeal and brown rice top this list
- Ginger – history of anti-inflammation and digestive regulatory
- Salads – (without the tomatoes and high fat dressing)
- Chicken and Turkey (low fat)
- Fish and seafood
- Greens and Roots
Note: As before individual response may vary.
Very Short Term Relief:
1. Over-the-counter heartburn medications such as antacids (work for 1-2 hours)
2. Some medications like Proton pump inhibitors can prevent acid production altogether but have significant side effects.
Antacids are the 3rd most common over the counter drug at 2.3 Billion (2012 – US) while the 6th most prescribed dug – Generic Prilosec (53.4 million prescriptions) is also an antacid. You can skip the drug industry with a home remedy of 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in water. Strangely enough (since it is acidic), apple cider vinegar has also been found helpful for quick relief.
Short Term Lifestyle Changes:
1. Eat less at each meal
2. Don’t eat before bed (if your acid- reflux is related to lying down)
3. Lie with your chest and head slightly elevated (use pillows or tilt the whole bed)
4. Lie on the left side of your body. (Since your stomach is on your left side.)
Long Term Lifestyle Changes
The best advice regular medicine has for acid-reflux suffers is to lose weight since being overweight compresses the stomach and increases the tendency of the stomach acid to be forced into the esophagus.
This is easy to say but the problem is that if people knew HOW to lose weight easily; they would probably not be overweight and not have this acid-reflux problem in the first place.
What is needed is a long term plan to be healthy. This will probably take care of both the excess weight and the acid-reflux and a hundred other problems.
From this perspective the avoid list are mostly foods you should avoid whether you have acid reflux or not and the good reflux foods are mostly foods that you can eat with pleasure, whether it’s weight loss you wish or to look younger..
Improve Your Digestion:
Holistic health practitioners have been telling us for years just how dangerous the antacids and acid blocking medications are.
If your long term health depends upon your digestion, the LAST thing you want to do is neutralize your stomach acids or block off stomach acid completely. Even regular medicine recognizes this can cause calcium and other mineral deficiencies.
Holistic practitioners go one step further: they suggest one of the main reasons we experience acid-reflux is that our stomachs are generally LOW on acid (from a continuous stressful diet of irritating food). The stomach gets used to this and creates a smaller buffer against the acids so that when the stomach is finally shocked into secreting more by obvious irritants like alcohol and caffeine, then the system is overwhelmed.
My Own Story (Diana)
For most of life I had very strong acid reflux. It started in my teens when the doctor gave me a yellow pill to take. Later I discovered that it was important to watch what I ate. Most of what is on the list of ‘Foods to Avoid’ is what I naturally avoided.
The problem is I had no idea what was creating this problem so it continued to worsen to the point of being in extreme pain from almost everything I ate. Many nights saw me propped up with pillows as I was unable to lay down.
One night the pain was so intense it resonated throughout my whole digestive system from the appendix area to my heart. The fear was that I was either having an appendicitis attack or a heart attack so we called the doctor who came to my bedside in the middle of the night. Fortunately it was neither.
The way I dealt with this was to limit all foods that caused any intense pain after eating it.
That meant there were only twelve foods that were possible. Even worse than that – those twelve foods did not all work every day.
Finally I went to a clinic for six weeks doing a major detox and slowly introducing foods back in. I left the clinic able to eat 12 foods every day without any problem ever!!! That was a breakthrough.
What were these foods? All were alkaline forming foods except for one and many were watery. I would eat lots of watermelon all year long. Watermelon, celery, romaine lettuce, zucchini, blueberries, fresh orange juice, fish, small bit of avocado, a little well-cooked potato, and when these were part of the vegetable juice ingredients: carrots, bean sprouts and apples. Later I was able to add fish and more vegetables.
Finally after years of extreme indigestion, I did get my digestive health back thanks to specific testing telling me about my food sensitivities and products to nourish me back to health. Good news is that it worked! I am happy to say that I can eat almost everything now except chemical additives in food and that I believe is my body’s intelligence.
Here is the recipe for my favourite vegetable juice: Perfect Vegetable Juice
Written by Randy Fritz and Diana Herrington.