How To Fight Acid Reflux (Naturally) Without Having To Take Nexium

Print icon

Q: Is it just me, or does adding ginger to my diet – either in food, tea or eating a small piece each day – help with digestion and symptoms of acid reflux? I’m trying to avoid having to take Nexium, which has been linked to kidney damage, or any medication for the symptoms. What else can I do?

Kevin, Old Saybrook

A: Occasional indigestion happens to all of us, but if you experience indigestion frequently (several times during the week or daily) you may have acid reflux — also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle does not fully close (see featured graphic) allowing stomach acid and sometimes stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus.

GERD effects about 20 percent of Americans and can happen at any age. Not all GERD sufferers experience heartburn. Bad breath, burping or hiccups, cough, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea or feeling like there is a lump in your throat are also common symptoms of GERD. If left untreated, GERD can injure the esophagus, increasing your risk of respiratory conditions and even esophageal cancer.

What you can do right now:

Record what you eat and when you experience symptoms. Share this journal with your doctor and a registered dietitian so they can help you manage symptoms through diet and lifestyle.

Consider avoiding these foods because they may trigger symptoms.

  • Foods that relax the LES such as chocolate, peppermint, caffeine and foods that are high in fat: fried foods, full fat milk and cheese, pastries and desserts.
  • Acidic and spicy foods that may irritate an injured esophagus: citrus fruit, tomatoes and tomato products, juice, carbonated beverages, chili peppers, black pepper, onions and garlic.

Lifestyle changes that help alleviate symptoms.

  • Have four or five small meals and avoid overeating.
  • Eat more fiber. In this study, GERD sufferers who followed a high-fiber meal plan were less likely to experience symptoms.
  • If you are overweight, losing those unwanted pounds can lessen your symptoms.
  • Wait at least two hours after a meal before exercising.
  • Don’t eat just before you go to bed. To alleviate nighttime symptoms, eat at least three to four hours before bedtime and raise the head of your bed six inches.

Specific foods to ease symptoms.

  • Low-fat dairy such as milk, yogurt, and kefir provide calcium, magnesium, and potassium (alkaline minerals) that help balance stomach acid to ease symptoms quickly.
  • Fill half your plate with dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach. These and other leafy greens are rich in symptom-fighting fiber and magnesium.
  • Oatmeal and other whole grains are also rich in fiber, which binds with stomach acid to reduce symptoms.
  • Ginger root is a natural remedy for heartburn and nausea. Researchers hypothesize that ginger’s effectiveness is due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Grate fresh ginger root into soups and smoothies and sip ginger tea one-half hour before, or after meals.
  • Select foods that are baked, broiled and steamed instead of fried, pan-fried or prepared in cream sauce.
  • Enjoy healthy fats that are also a good source of fiber, such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Snack on low-acid fruit: melons, bananas, apples and pears.

Want even more information and personalized advice? Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. Call us at Hartford Hospital (860.972.2604) and we can tell you how. 

Looking for information on surgical weight loss? Visit WhatWillYouGain.org. 

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor. Find out more about COVID-19 antibody tests here.

Sign up for our “Coping with COVID” podcast series here.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

 

 


What's New


East Region Mobile Van Brings Testing to the People

In the two weeks since Hartford HealthCare’s East Region mobile testing van has been on the road providing coronavirus testing to the public, more than 600 swabs have been taken. Of those, about 15 results came back positive. The van, which can be found at Windham Hospital four mornings a...

Three young couples on the beach.

Summer Countdown: 9 Health Benefits of Sunshine

Usually, at this time of year, we like to warn people about the dangers of too much sunshine or too little protection from sunshine. Not today, with the state reopening after so many weeks of self-quarantine during COVID-19. In so many ways, glorious sunshine is good for your health. Here...

Timber Rattlesnake

Snakes! What to Know About Connecticut’s 14 Species

Nothing quite inspires instantaneous rage, extreme fear or bizarre curiosity like the sudden appearance of a snake. For too many people, the initial impulse is kill or cradle. The correct response, of course, is none of the above. Do not mess with snakes. They’re not looking for a fight. You...


Windham paramedic program honors 25 years

Since its inception 25 years ago, the paramedic program at Windham Hospital has saved countless lives, built partnerships with 16 fire departments and served the 400-square-mile community around the hospital. In 1995, the town of Windham recognized the need for paramedic or advanced life support services in the Windham and...

Taming allergies.

Home Remedies Can Soothe Allergy Symptoms

With spring’s blooms – and grasses and flowering trees – come headaches and sinus distress for many people. Sinus pressure as a result of colds or allergies does not mean you need to see your primary care provider, though. There are a few home remedies that can help soothe your...

Workout

Here’s Your Exercise Plan During COVID-19 Pandemic

Now that your gym is closed and you’re staying home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it doesn’t mean you need to skip exercising. “The best example of aerobic exercise is sustained walking,” said Dr. Darren Tishler, director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Hartford HealthCare. “Biking (both stationary and...

Handwashing

Why Soap and Water Is More Effective Than Hand Sanitizer Against COVID-19

Store shelves may be wiped clean of hand sanitizer but soap is more effective for protecting yourself from COVID-19, according to infectious disease specialists. “If at all possible, wash your hands with soap and water,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, the chief of infectious diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, “If...