Acid reflux is when stomach acid gets pushed up into the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food and drink from the mouth to the stomach. Some reflux is totally normal and harmless, usually causing no symptoms. But when it happens too often, it burns the inside of the esophagus. An estimated 14–20% of all adults in the US have reflux in some form or another.
1. Don’t Overeat
Where the esophagus opens into the stomach, there is a ring-like muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter. It acts as a valve and is supposed to prevent the acidic contents of the stomach from going up into the esophagus. It naturally opens when you swallow, belch or vomit. Otherwise, it should stay 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, causing acid to squeeze through the opening. Avoid eating large meals. Acid reflux usually increases after meals, and larger meals seem to make the problem worse.
2. Lose Weight
The diaphragm is a muscle located above your stomach. In healthy people, the diaphragm naturally strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter. As mentioned earlier, this muscle prevents excessive amounts of stomach acid from leaking up into the esophagus. However, if you have too much belly fat, the pressure in your abdomen may become so high that the lower esophageal sphincter gets pushed upward, away from the diaphragm’s support. This condition is known as hiatus hernia. Losing weight should be one of your priorities if you live with acid reflux. Excessive pressure inside the abdomen is one of the reasons for acid reflux. Losing belly fat might relieve some of your symptoms.
3. Follow a Low-Carb Diet
Growing evidence suggests that low-carb diets may relieve acid reflux symptoms. Scientists suspect that undigested carbs may be causing bacterial overgrowth and elevated pressure inside the abdomen. Some even speculate this may be one of the most common causes of acid reflux. Studies indicate that bacterial overgrowth is caused by impaired carb digestion and absorption. Acid reflux might be caused by poor carb digestion and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Low-carb diets appear to be an effective treatment, but further studies are needed.
4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking alcohol may increase the severity of acid reflux and heartburn. Excessive alcohol intake can worsen acid reflux symptoms. If you experience heartburn, limiting your alcohol intake might help ease some of your pain.
5. Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee
Studies show that coffee temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux. Some evidence points towards caffeine as a possible culprit. Similar to coffee, caffeine weakens the lower esophageal sphincter. However, one study that gave participants caffeine in water was unable to detect any effects of caffeine on reflux, even though coffee itself worsened the symptoms. These findings indicate that compounds other than caffeine may play a role in coffee’s effects on acid reflux. The processing and preparation of coffee might also be involved. Nevertheless, although several studies suggest that coffee may worsen acid reflux, the evidence is not entirely conclusive. Whether coffee intake worsens acid reflux may depend on the individual. If coffee gives you heartburn, simply avoid it or limit your intake. Evidence suggests that coffee makes acid reflux and heartburn worse. If you feel like coffee increases your symptoms, you should consider limiting your intake.
These are some basic remedies to keep in mind.