Do you have a burning feeling? If you frequently experience heartburn or discomfort in the abdomen or chest after eating, you may have acid reflux. Don’t worry; you are not alone. A recent study suggests that 60 percent of the population experience acid reflux at some point. About 20 to 30 percent experience it frequently.
The foods you eat play a big role in triggering or reducing acid reflux symptoms.
What is acid reflux?Before you can temper your acid reflux, it’s important to understand what it is. For starters, there is a valve at the entrance to your stomach with a big fancy name – the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, your LES allows food pass through to the stomach then closes. But for people who experience acid reflux, the LES doesn't close all the way. As your stomach produces acid to digest the food, some of it can move back up through the valve and into the esophagus. And since that acid is relatively potent, it causes a burning chest pain.
How to reduce your acid refluxStay away from foods that can trigger symptoms such as caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, onions, citrus, tomatoes, and foods high in fat. Try to not eat before going to bed or lying down. This helps the LES keep stomach contents down instead of traveling back up to the esophagus. When you sleep, try propping up the upper half of your body with a wedge pillow.
Foods to help improve your acid reflux
- Oatmeal – helps absorb stomach acids. Have it for a hearty breakfast to start your day right.
- Kale – the minerals in this leafy green can reduce stomach acid. Try it in a salad, just stay away from garnishing with tomatoes, onions or high-fat dressings.
- Ginger – an anti-inflammatory, often used as a treatment for gastrointestinal conditions. Mince it and sprinkle into foods, or drink it as a tea.
- Purple Cabbage – helps regulate the body’s pH levels and reduce digestive issues. Try it in salads or juice it.
- Parsley – a medicinal herb used to settle the stomach and aid digestion. Use as a seasoning or garnish.
- Couscous and brown rice – they both provide complex carbohydrates and add fiber to your diet. Use them as a side dish with lunch and dinner.
- Poultry – chicken and turkey are low in fat. Eat them cooked lean, not fried, without the skin.
- Fennel – helps improve stomach function. Try roasting the bulbs brushed with oil and vinegar.
- Bananas – help neutralize stomach acids. Keep them around for a healthy snack.
- Melons – low in acid and contain magnesium, a mineral that is also found in many reflux medications. Eat as a snack or dessert.
With a few dietary adjustments, you can get your acid reflux under control and kiss that heartburn goodbye!