In recent years, acid reflux has become a growing health issue facing many Americans. The signs and symptoms are very recognizable. These include chest pains, difficulty sleeping, and the decreased ability to eat certain foods. A very common reaction is to think you are eating too many acidic foods. However, this may not be the case. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your body is giving you signals to warn you of poor digestive health. Thankfully, we can improve or heal GERD through a combination of supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes.
Supplements to Heal GERD
Achieving relief from these symptoms is a multiprong approach. You must improve your diet and lifestyle and be open to making these lifestyle changes for the long haul, not just a short-term fix. I would also recommend considering the use of supplements and digestive enzymes in the short term to help combat acute symptoms. We are all different and there is not a one-size fits all protocol, so it’s best to consult with a practitioner to determine what combination of enzymes will be the most beneficial to your needs.
Lifestyle Modifications to Heal GERD
Helpful modifications that you can easily implement include daily exercise like yoga or walking, eating smaller meals throughout the day, and implementing a “mealtime hygiene” routine. Take a few moments before eating to smell and appreciate the food you are going to eat. Digestion begins in our brain when we smell food. This is when the mouth begins to produce digestive enzymes to help break food down. Another important step in “mealtime hygiene” is chewing, which lets our teeth do their job of making the food we swallow easier to digest. When we slow down the act of eating, we are also allowing the stomach time to send the signal to the brain that we are full. It is very easy to overeat and become uncomfortable when we are mindlessly eating.
To increase digestive health, it is also important to select organic non-GMO foods as much as possible and limit fried and fast foods, highly processed baked goods, cereals, crackers, and most convenience food items Increasing fiber intake and supporting healthy gut bacteria with probiotic-rich foods and supplements, reducing processed grains, and getting high-quality proteins can help aid the digestive process.
Foods to incorporate into your diet to help improve the symptoms of acid reflux or GERD could be as follows:
- Kefir and yogurt with very low sugar content. (This usually means using plain yogurt and adding your own fruit, nuts, and honey to control the sugar. Yogurt with too much sugar will not provide the same benefit.)
- Fermented vegetables
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil and water
- Bone broth
- Asparagus, artichokes and green leafy vegetables
- Healthy fats such as wild-caught tuna and salmon, Ghee, and avocado oil
- Raw honey
The implementation of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) invented by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride may also be helpful in healing the digestive tract and increasing modality. This diet includes many of the food choices mentioned above and encourages a whole-food diet that eliminates highly processed foods. This diet focuses on a diet rich in fresh organic vegetables, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and bone broths. It also includes the use of healthy herbs and plants such as aloe vera, ginger, fennel, and parsley, which can soothe a cranky digestive tract. While this diet has been proven helpful in treating symptoms of acid reflux it may also help with symptoms related to IBS (leaky gut), ADHD, Autism, and many inflammatory diseases.
Yes, changing your diet and the use of helpful supplements will prove to be a huge benefit to altering your symptoms, but incorporating a mindfulness practice can also provide you necessary healing. Take time each day to notice your surroundings and live in the present moment. So many of us are living 10-15 minutes in the future and reacting to stressful situations, which makes us forget to check in with our bodies. The messages our bodies are sending us through pain, discomfort, swelling, and many other symptoms are cues we need to pay attention to and give value. So when these symptoms arise, stop and take a look at your current lifestyle and see if you can make some loving adjustments to your routine.