Acid reflux is one of the most common symptoms my clients report experiencing. In fact, over 60 million American adults will have reflux this month, and 25 million of those will have it every day of this month! Having reflux once or twice is not dangerous (although, over time, it can lead to more serious issues), but it sure is annoying!
Medications that are commonly prescribed for acid reflux have a host of negative side effects over the long term, so I prefer to help people resolve it without medication whenever possible. Solving acid reflux naturally is a complex puzzle, which honestly excites me – I love helping clients find the individual pieces of their own unique “I-finally-feel-amazing!” puzzle. As such, it’s hard to give just one piece of advice that will work for everyone who experiences acid reflux, but in today’s post, I’ll share several general tips for how to prevent acid reflux. Try them, and see what works for you!
10 Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux Naturally
- Chew your food extremely well. I know – this sounds simple, but most of us virtually inhale our food, and skip the critical parts of digestion that begin in the mouth! Try chewing each bite 15 times (yes, it will take longer! It’s supposed to!) and see if symptoms subside.
- Limit processed and red meats and dairy. Red meat, especially processed red meat, is difficult to break down, and can exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux in those whose digestion is already “off.” Dairy is inflammatory for many people, which also makes symptoms worse. (Side note: if you’re curious about whether or not red meat is healthy for you overall, check out this post!
- Limit fried and processed foods and bread. Fried foods are higher fat and generally use lower quality oils, which make them harder to break down and more likely to cause reflux. Processed foods often use low quality oils, artificial sweeteners, or other preservatives and chemicals that can irritate your digestive system. Bread often contains gluten, which is inflammatory for many people (see this post for more), and quickly turns into sugar in the body, which worsens reflux symptoms.
- Eat more vegetables. Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory agents and can alleviate symptoms of reflux. Leafy greens, pumpkin, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, and squash are especially helpful.
- Eat more gut–soothing foods. Foods like bone broth, coconut oil, aloe vera, ginger tea, fennel, and apple cider vinegar can also help. If you’re in the middle of a flare-up, though, stay away from apple cider vinegar. It’s a better preventative agent than soother.
- Limit alcohol, carbonation, and caffeine. If you’re a coffee and wine lover, I’m breaking your heart here, but these are two of the biggest culprits for acid reflux. Coffee is very acidic, and can quickly exacerbate reflux symptoms, and drinking carbonated beverages (even carbonated water!) is one of the biggest predictors of nighttime heartburn overall. Cut back as much as possible … tip #7 will help you!
- Hydrate with plain water. Pure, clean water makes almost everything better, including your digestion. Hydrating with tons of plain (uncarbonated) water will almost certainly alleviate your symptoms. I recommend taking your body weight in pounds, dividing by 2, and adding 16 for every hour of exercise you do daily. Drink that number of ounces of plain water, and see if your symptoms go away.
- Reduce potentially triggering foods like chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, citrus, and peppermint. All of these have been shown by research to cause acid reflux in some people. Again, it’s a complicated puzzle, and some of my clients can enjoy small bits of these foods without any issue. Experiment by cutting out each of these for a week or two to find what works for you.
- Consider supplementation. When I work one-to-one with clients, I am better able to advise on specific supplements that work for them, given their health history, other supplements and medications, and regular eating patterns. Some of the most common are hydrochloric acid (did you know that most reflux is actually caused by a lack of acid, not an abundance?) and l-glutamine to heal the digestive tract. However, I will not recommend either of those to readers without knowing more. One supplement that I would suggest to almost anyone experiencing reflux is a digestive enzymes. Your body naturally produces digestive enzymes, so think of a supplement as an extra boost. Try taking one (I like this brand) with every hard-to-digest meal (e.g. not a smoothie).
- Manage stress. Much easier said than done, I know, but being stressed out inhibits healthy digestion and can make acid reflux symptoms much worse. See this post for how stress is impacting your health, this one for foods that reduce stress, and this one for how I personally manage my stress every day.
Now it’s your turn … Do you ever experience acid reflux? If so, what works for you! Share your tips on how to prevent acid reflux below!
I used to chew a couple of Tums every night before bed as a preventative against acid reflux. Once I started on the OACV morning routine, eating more veggies, reducing gluten/dairy/sugar intake, I didn’t have acid reflux anymore. But I kept sucking down the Tums thinking I needed the calcium. I learned from Megan that not only is it better to get your calcium from vegetables instead of a chemistry department, I was eating enough vegetables that I probably don’t need the supplement anyway. So now, no more Tums for me! Yay!
I love all of this, Victoria! You are doing such great work for your health!
I have had acid reflux for years but was able to manage my symptoms with a PPI. Knowingthat the PPI wasn’t good for my health, Megan has helped me transition to Zantac and I am so pleased to be off the PPI. I have had to give up wine but I made it through the holidays with no symptoms! Drinking lots of water and eating veggies make a big difference! Thank you Megan!
You have done such great work with increasing your water and veggies, and I’m glad you are more aware of your symptoms! Keep up the great work!