You’re having a strong acid in your stomach? Read here healthy and effective tips on how to get rid of heartburn and acid reflux in the stomach naturally.
Millions of people around the world experience acid reflux and heartburn.
The most commonly used treatment includes commercial drugs, such as omeprazole. However, lifestyle changes can also be effective.
A simple change in eating habits or sleep patterns can significantly reduce the symptoms of heartburn and increased acid, improving quality of life.
What is acid reflux and what are the symptoms?
Acid reflux is when gastric acid is pushed into the esophagus, which is a tube that transports food and drink from the mouth to the stomach.
In some reflux is completely normal and harmless, usually does not cause symptoms. But when this happens too often, it burns out the inside of the esophagus.
It is estimated that 14-20% of all adults in Europe have reflux in some form or another. The most common symptom of acid reflux is known as heartburn, which is a painful burning sensation in the chest or throat.
Researchers estimate that about 7% of Europeans experience heartburn every day.
Of those who regularly have heartburn, 20–40% are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is the most serious form of acid reflux.
In addition to heartburn, common symptoms of reflux include a sour taste on the back of the mouth and difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms include cough, asthma, tooth erosion and inflammation in the sinuses.
So, here are 13 natural ways to reduce acid and heartburn reflux, all supported by scientific research.
How to get rid of strong stomach acid and heartburn naturally
1. Do not overeat
Where the esophagus opens into the stomach, there is a muscle-like ring known as the lower sphincter of the esophagus.
It acts as a valve and should prevent the acidic contents of the stomach from going to the esophagus. It opens naturally when you swallow, burp or vomit. Otherwise, it should remain closed.
In people with acid reflux, this muscle is weakened or dysfunctional. Acid reflux can also occur when there is too much pressure on the muscle, as a result of which the acid is squeezed out through the opening.
Unsurprisingly, most of the symptoms of reflux occur after meals. It also seems that larger meals can exacerbate the symptoms of reflux.
One of the steps that will help you get rid of acid reflux is to avoid eating large meals.
2. Reduce body weight
The diaphragm is a muscle located above your stomach. In healthy people, the diaphragm naturally strengthens the lower sphincter of the esophagus.
As mentioned earlier, this muscle prevents excessive expulsion of gastric acid into the esophagus.
However, if you have too much fat on your stomach, the pressure in your abdomen can become so high that the lower sphincter of the esophagus is pushed upwards, away from the support of the diaphragm.
This condition is known as the hiatus hernia. Hiatus hernia is the main reason why obese people and pregnant women have an increased risk of reflux and heartburn.
Several observational studies show that excess weight in the abdominal area increases the risk of reflux and GERD. Controlled studies support this, showing that losing weight can alleviate the symptoms of reflux.
Losing weight should be one of your priorities if you want to get rid of heartburn.
3. Follow a low-carb diet
Growing evidence suggests that a low-carb diet can alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn.
Scientists suspect that undigested carbohydrates can cause excessive bacterial growth and increased pressure inside the abdomen. Some even speculate that this may be one of the most common causes of acid reflux.
Studies show that excessive growth of bacteria is caused by impaired digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
If you have too many undigested carbohydrates in your digestive system, you become gaseous and bloated. It also often makes you burp.
Supporting this idea, several small studies indicate that a low-carbohydrate diet improves the symptoms of reflux.
In addition, antibiotic treatment can significantly reduce acid reflux, possibly by reducing the number of gas-forming bacteria.
In one study, researchers gave participants GERD’s prebiotic fiber supplements that promote the growth of gas-producing bacteria. As a result, the symptoms of reflux of the participants worsened.
4. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol can increase the severity of acid reflux and heartburn.
It worsens symptoms by increasing gastric acid, relaxing the lower sphincter of the esophagus and disrupting the esophagus’ ability to cleanse itself of acid.
Studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can even cause symptoms of reflux in healthy individuals.
Controlled studies also show that drinking wine or beer increases the symptoms of reflux compared to drinking plain water.
5. Coffee can intensify heartburn
Studies show that coffee temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux.
Some evidence points to caffeine as a possible culprit. Similar to coffee, caffeine weakens the lower sphincter of the esophagus. In addition, drinking decaffeinated coffee has been shown to reduce heartburn compared to regular coffee.
However, one study that gave participants caffeine in the water failed to detect any effects of caffeine on reflux, although coffee itself exacerbated the symptoms.
These findings suggest that non-caffeine compounds may play a role in the effects of coffee on acid reflux. Processing and preparation of coffee can also be included.
Whether coffee intake will worsen acid reflux depends on the individual. If coffee gives you heartburn, simply avoid it or limit your intake.
6. Chew chewing gum
Several studies show that chewing gum reduces acidity in the esophagus. It seems that chews containing bicarbonate are especially effective.
These findings suggest that chewing gum – and a related increase in saliva production – can help cleanse the esophagus of acid.
However, it probably does not reduce the reflux itself.
7. Avoid raw onions
One study in people with acid reflux found that eating a meal containing raw onions significantly increased heartburn, strong acid and belching compared to an identical meal that did not contain onions.
More frequent belching may suggest that more gas is produced due to the large amount of fermented fibers in the onion.
Raw onions can also irritate the mucous membrane of the esophagus, causing worsening of heartburn.
Whatever the reason, if you like raw onions, and the symptoms worsen, you should avoid it.
8. Limit the intake of fizzy drinks
Patients with GERD are sometimes advised to limit their intake of fizzy drinks.
One observational study found that fizzy soft drinks are associated with increased symptoms of heartburn.
Also, controlled studies show that drinking carbonated water or coke cola temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, compared to drinking ordinary water.
The main reason is the gaseous carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks, which is why people burp more often – an effect that can increase the amount of acid that comes out into the esophagus.
9. Careful with citrus juices
Orange or grapefruit juice can exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn.
It seems that the acidity of citrus fruits is not the only factor contributing to these effects. Orange juice with a neutral pH also seems to worsen the symptoms.
Since citrus juice does not weaken the lower sphincter of the esophagus, it is likely that some of its ingredients irritate the mucous membrane of the esophagus.
Although citrus juice probably does not cause acid reflux, it can temporarily worsen your condition.
10. Eat less chocolate
Patients with GERD are sometimes advised to avoid or limit the consumption of chocolate. However, the evidence for this recommendation is weak.
One small, uncontrolled study found that consuming 120 ml of chocolate syrup weakened the lower sphincter of the esophagus.
Another controlled study found that drinking a chocolate drink increases the amount of acid in the esophagus, compared to placebo.
Nevertheless, further studies are needed before drawing any firm conclusions about the effects of chocolate on reflux symptoms.
11. Avoid mint
Peppermint and spearmint are common plants used to flavor food, sweets, chewing gum, mouth water and toothpaste.
Also popular are the ingredients of herbal teas.
However, one controlled study showed that high doses of mint can exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux, possibly irritating the inside of the esophagus.
If you feel that mint worsens your heartburn, then avoid it.
12. Do not eat for three hours before going to bed
People with acid reflux are usually advised to avoid eating within three hours before going to sleep.
Although this recommendation makes sense, pthere is limited evidence to support this.
One study on GERD patients found that a late evening meal did not affect acid reflux, compared to a meal before 7 p.m.
However, an observational study found that eating close to sleep was associated with significantly higher reflux symptoms when people went to sleep.
More studies are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn on the effect of late-night meals on GERD. It may also depend on the individual.
13. Do not sleep on the right
Several studies show that sleeping on the right side can worsen the symptoms of reflux at night.
The reason is not entirely clear, but it may be explained by anatomy.
The esophagus enters the right side of the stomach. As a result, the lower esophageal sphincter is located above the level of gastric acid when sleeping on the left side.
When lying on the right side, gastric acid covers the lower sphincter of the esophagus. This increases the risk of acid leaking through it and causing reflux.
Obviously, this recommendation may not be practical because most people change their position while they sleep.
However, resting on the left may make you more comfortable while you fall asleep.
Get rid of the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux
Some scientists argue that dietary factors are the main root cause of acid and heartburn reflux.
While this may be true, more research is needed to support these claims.
Nevertheless, studies show that simple dietary and lifestyle changes can significantly help to get rid of heartburn and other symptoms of drug-free acid reflux.