Acid Reflux: The Dangers and How to Lessen it With Diet

It is unfortunate that it is common for many to experience acid reflux. 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 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 2 ways to approach this.

  1. The short term solution for getting rid of the discomfort, which can include medication.
  2. Longer more holistic approach, which can include learning how to improve digestion.

Acid Reflux Diet – Foods to Avoid

This standard list of foods is 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.

heart in chocolate

1.  Mint
2.  Chocolate is high in stimulants, fat and cocoa, all increase reflux. Sorry, even healthy chocolate is a problem here.
3.  Deep fried food
4.  Coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated)
5.  Alcohol – especially wine.

Other foods that people have found to increase the problem are:

6.  Soda
7.  High-fat dairy products
8.  High-fat meats – beef, pork, and lamb stay in the stomach longer
9.  Citrus fruits and juices
10.  Garlic
11.  Onions
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 listsalad ingredients on white
  • Ginger – history of anti-inflammation and digestive regulatory
  • Salads – (without the tomatoes and high-fat dressing)
  • Banana
  • Melon
  • Fennel
  • Chicken and Turkey (low fat)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Greens and Roots
  • Celery
  • Parsley

Note: As before individual response may vary.

Very Short Term Reliefacid reflux

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.

Lifestyle Changes

  1. Eat less at each meal.
  2. Eat more alkaline forming foods.
    Learn 10 Tips for Creating Alkaline Balance
  3. Don’t eat before bed (if your acid- reflux is related to lying down).
  4. Lie with your chest and head slightly elevated (use pillows or tilt the whole bed).
  5. Lie on the left side of your body. (Since your stomach is on your left side.)
  6. 5 Tips to Improve Your Digestion and Health 

If you do get nauseous check out this article:
Learn How to Get Rid of Nausea With These Natural Remedies 

Long Term Lifestyle Changes

Lose Weight

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.

burning stomach - leaky gut syndrome

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.

Diana in kitchen

My Own Story

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, a 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

My experience led me to research and learning from a natural doctor to heal my digestion. I wrote two e-books focusing on this.

This is my first book which goes into detail and has recipes in it too.

Green Means Lean E-Book – Teaches you how to balance your body’s pH simply and easily.  Learn about Acid Alkaline Balancing for a healthier body.

Also, you will learn the principles of ‘Food Combining’  properly for the best digestion and slimness.

Later I created this one just on the alkaline-producing diet.

Alkaline Diet Principles E-book – Acid / Alkaline Balance

And then a course to help with good digestion:

Healthy Lean BootCamp: Food Combining & Alkaline Balance for Regeneration & Healthy Slimness

Diana Herrington

Diana has been writing about natural health and wellness for over 20 years. Having used foods to heal her own body, she now shares her wisdom with others.

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  • Very rarely have I experienced ‘heartburn’. However since I began eating a totally RAW
    diet, it has not recurred in two years.
    I am of a mature age.

  • I found relief by using apple cider vinegar when I had reflux,just a tablespoon in a glass of water,I have now since improved my diet,eating more raw,cutting out processed foods,combining my food better and most of all slowed down my eating and chewing more,that is chew until it is liquid before swallowing.

    • Thanks Linda. Yes! Apple cider vinegar works… even though you would THINK it would increase acidity and cause more problems, but many people swear by it!

      And everything else you mentioned (chewing, food combining) is what we all should be doing for better digestion and health.

  • Thankyou for sharing this post. I first had acid reflux through wine a few years ago, for which I experienced a pain in my chest. I was also a regular late eater which also contributed to reflux.

    I’m currently undergoing life style changes to reduce my reflux and to loose weight for which I am overweight by a stone- by losing this can only be but beneficial. I want to look at the holistic approach to sorting my gerd for good rather than through the medication route.