sliced orange fruit and green broccoli
Acid Reflux Treatment

What Foods Will Stop Acid Reflux

Just because heartburn is common doesn’t mean you have to suffer with it. Left untreated, frequent acid reflux can develop into more serious health problems. Here are the top 15 heartburn remedies…

Despite humorous commercials touting heartburn remedies with funny words like “plop-plop” and “fizz-fizz,” heartburn is no joke. More than 60 million Americans suffer from it at least occasionally, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, occurs when acidic stomach juices flow backward into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining. The resulting pain can be uncomfortable, annoying or excruciating. “It can hurt as much as a heart attack,” says Paige Hastings, a certified nurse practitioner at The Little Clinic in Nashville, Tenn.But not everyone has such pain; you could also feel a bitter or acidic taste in the back of your throat or the awful sensation of food or liquid washing back into your mouth and down the gullet.In fact, frequent heartburn (two or more times a week) and food sticking in the throat are signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).Untreated, these problems can lead more serious problems, including strictures (narrowing or obstruction of the esophagus), ulcers, cancer and pneumonia, explains Patricia Raymond, MD, a gastroenterologist based in Virginia Beach, Va.

“You can also become hoarse, because acid burns the vocal cords,” she adds. Asthma also is a possibility, “because of spasms in the bronchial tubes.”Before your heartburn goes from bad to dire, learn a few heartburn remedies that treat the symptoms. Read on for important do’s and don’ts about heartburn:Heartburn Remedies: The Do’s
1. Understand causes of heartburn and GERD.
Under normal circumstances, the valve between your esophagus and stomach – the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – acts as a gate to block stomach acid from traveling back into the esophagus. With GERD, the valve relaxes too much, allowing stomach contents to flow the wrong way.If you’re pregnant, elderly or have a hiatal hernia – a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed through your diaphragm and into the chest – you’re more likely to have heartburn or GERD.2. Eat small portions and chew them slowly.
Large meals bring on large amounts of acid. Stuffing your stomach also adds abdominal pressure and increases acid reflux.If you typically chow down on super-sized portions, shave off at least 20%. Eating smaller portions is one of the tried-and-true heartburn remedies. Eating less helps you lose weight, taming symptoms even further.

If weight isn’t a problem and your portions seem just right, try splitting your three meals into five or six mini-meals.Instead of eating a sandwich, fruit and salad for lunch, eat just the sandwich and salad, and stash the fruit for snack later.3. Add more fiber to your diet.
The more fiber you eat, the less likely you’ll have GERD, says registered dietitian David Grotto, author of 101 Optimal Life Foods (Bantam).Women should consume 25 grams daily, says the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of the Sciences in Washington, D.C. (For men, it’s 38 grams.)Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t listening; our average intake is 15 grams a day. Here are some easy ways to boost fiber intake:

  • Swap processed foods for whole foods. Eat the apple instead of drinking juice.
  • Cook brown rice or barley instead of yellow rice pilaf.
  • Eat one small serving of whole grains with each meal.
  • Enjoy a variety of at least 1.5 cups of fruits and 2.0 cups of vegetables every day.
  • Add chickpeas, kidney beans and other beans to soups and salads.
  • Add dried fruit to muffin and pancake batter.
  • Sprinkle a few nuts on salads.
  • Mix wheat germ or ground flax seed into oatmeal.

4. Seek out a few special foods.
A few specific fruits and vegetables serve as natural (and delicious) heartburn remedies.“Apples, cranberries and cardamom can help heartburn,” Grotto says. The tiny red berry and fragrant spice have antibacterial properties, which may lower your risk of stomach ulcers caused by the bacterium H. pylori, he explains. Apples are also high in pectin, a type of fiber, and the more fiber, the less reflux.Blackberries are another go-to food, he says, because they contain compounds that help heal the esophagus.Put carrots and kale on your list. Their beta-carotene and other nutrients can help repair acid-damaged tissue.5. Listen to your symptoms.
Studies show that acidic and spicy foods don’t appear to increase gastric acid. Nonetheless, some heartburn sufferers say that spicy foods, tomato products and citrus trigger problems. If that’s your case, eliminate them from your diet on a trial. Otherwise, cutting them out robs you of some essential nutrients.“There needs to be a real emphasis on individualization,” says Grotto, who successfully treated his own GERD several years ago. “I tolerated spicy foods just fine,” he says.

So he increased fruits, veggies, whole grains and fiber and cut back on alcohol and coffee.“I practiced what I preached — and it worked,” he adds.6. Drop a few pounds.
Lugging extra weight increases abdominal pressure and strains the lower esophageal sphincter.Even normal-weight women are more likely to experience GERD’s pain and discomfort if they gain a few pounds, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.Hormones secreted by body fat may trigger some of the symptoms, the researchers speculated.7. Act like a detective.
You’re feeling the burn, but was it chocolate, coffee, mints, pizza or something else that triggered it? The foods and conditions that cause your pain probably aren’t the ones affecting friends and neighbors.To find your triggers, keep a heartburn journal, says Eileen Myers, a registered dietitian in private practice in Nashville, Tenn., and author of a GERD treatment program for nurse practitioners.

Record symptoms, their severity and possible causes. Pinpoint what you ate or drank, how fast and the amount.Then, look for trends. A small notebook will do, but you can find a journal in the Get Heartburn Smart brochure at the National Heartburn Alliance (NHBA) website.8. Find out if medication is to blame.
Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can affect the LES or increase acid production, nurse practitioner Hastings says.Drugs that treat high blood pressure, asthma, inflammation and osteoporosis frequently fan the heartburn flame, she says.If you suspect a drug is aggravating symptoms, ask your doctor for possible alternatives. But don’t stop taking prescription medications without checking with a physician.