10 Tips to Lowering Reflux
I have been hearing from a lot of people recently about struggling to digest well.
What I mean by this is what we call indigestion: frequent burping, a bit of reflux or a full blown acid ball rearing back up. This is called Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disorder (GORD).
For some people this can be so severe it leads to vomiting.
Common Symptoms of GORD
Common symptoms seen with GORD include:
- Sensation of burning in oesophagus region
- Chest pain
- Chronic cough
- Hoarse voice
- Teeth erosion
- Water brash
Acid reflux is important to be addressed promptly as it can cause more severe conditions if left long term, the oesophagus and throat were not made to tolerate large amounts of acid from the stomach.
What causes GORD?
- Poor tone of the lower oesophageal sphincter - the smooth muscle at the end of the oesophagus that acts as a physical barrier between the oesophagus and stomach.
- Some medications can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter impairing it’s ability to close completely.
- Low stomach acid. This one can be confusing as most people believe reflux to be an overacidity problem. However low stomach acid can also cause reflux as there is not enough stomach acid to break down your food causing the food to stay in your stomach for longer leading to it refluxing up the oesophagus. Underacidity also creates an environment for Helicobacter pylori that can also cause GORD.
Side note: antacids and other medication such as proton pump inhibitors can support a reduction of symptoms. These products are not supposed to be used long term due to their risk of decreasing digestive function leading to nutritional deficiencies.
As an example, Nexium, a commonly used proton pump inhibitor is recommended to be used for only 8 weeks not years and sometimes decades like I see!
Tips for reducing acid reflux:
1. Reduce food triggers - caffeine, alcohol, fatty food, chocolate, spicy food, tomatoes and citrus fruits or any other foods that you are aware trigger your symptoms. Seek assistance form a practitioner to reduce symptoms so those foods can be reintroduced symptom free.
2. Do not lie down immediately after eating, make sure you eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
3. Use 2 or more pillows to elevate your head whilst sleeping. This can assist in encouraging gravity and making it more challenging for acid to rise in the oesophagus especially if you struggle in the evening or when going to bed.
4. Eat slower - take you time eating, be mindful by observing your food and chew between 20-30 times. This one takes a little time but work up to it as you are assisting your digestive system by breaking down the food using your teeth to support digestion.
5. Lower stress - stress exacerbates the body’s ability to digest. To combat this, when you sit down to eat take between 3-5 deep breaths before starting.
6. Try some meadowsweet tea. Meadowsweet is a herb that has a pleasant taste but also works as a natural antacid, it reduces inflammation and also works as an anti-ulcer agent for the digestive system. Please avoid if pregnant, or if a stomach ulcer is present.
7. Eat smaller meals more frequently rather than large meals to not overload the stomach.
8. Drink enough water but not around mealtime. For adults we need about 2-2.5L daily however close to mealtimes is not the time to get your water consumption as this compromises you stomach acid quality.
9. Exercise is helpful for encouraging the digestive system move. Focus on walking and slow movements and not inverting your body or folding your head below your waist. Exercise also encourages weight loss which can support a reduction in symptoms.
10. Seek assistance if GORD is still bothering you, naturopathy is very helpful for a reduction of reflux.
I use a combination of herbs and supplements to support a reduction in GORD. If you want to stop the acid burn, book a FREE chat with me to discuss how I can support your symptoms.