According to research up to 25 percent of adults in the UK experience heartburn. While it can be very uncomfortable, heartburn and acid reflux are a common problem, particularly if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Acid reflux is caused by stomach acids coming back up into the esophagus. Heartburn, in turn, is a symptom of acid reflux and is often characterized by a burning feeling in the throat and chest. While there are some medications on the market that can help to alleviate heartburn, here are a few natural remedies that may also provide that much-needed relief.
Try Not to Overeat
The lower esophageal sphincter acts like a valve, preventing acid from moving up from the stomach into the esophagus. While the esophageal sphincter usually remains closed, it opens up when you swallow, burp or vomit. Large meals can place pressure on the esophageal sphincter, making it more likely to open and let acid flow into the esophagus. As such, it is a good idea to swap three large meals a day for a few smaller meals that you can eat throughout the day.
Elevate Your Upper Body at Night
You may have noticed that acid reflux often becomes worse at night. This is because lying down makes it easier for stomach acids to pass into the esophagus. Luckily, raising your head and shoulders above the stomach during sleep can improve the symptoms of acid reflux. Slanted wedge pillows are particularly great for this. Placing one under your upper body can help gravity to keep acid out of your esophagus. It is also not a good idea to lie down straight after a meal, as this makes it easier for the contents of your stomach to make its way back up. Keep upright for three to four hours after eating to give yourself enough time to digest before going to bed.
Take Vitamins A, C, and E
According to a 2012 study, antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A, C and E, can have a positive effect on GERD, esophageal tumors and Barrett’s esophagus. Dannie Hansen, nutrition expert from SUNDT.UK explained that consuming these vitamins in the form of vegetables, fruit or supplements can alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux and prevent its complications. “In addition, vitamin B12 aids the formation of red blood cells, and improves the functioning of the heart and nerve tissue. Taking vitamin B12 can help to prevent nerve damage caused by acid reflux.”
While chewing gum is unlikely to reduce acid reflux, it increases the production of saliva, which can help to wash away acid from the esophagus. Chewing sugar-free gum or gum that contains bicarbonate for around 30 minutes after meals can be particularly effective. However, keep in mind that some people have reported that chewing peppermint or spearmint gum can actually worsen the symptoms of acid reflux, so it might be good to stay away from those flavors.