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

Print icon

Have a nutrition question for Brenda? Email her at Brenda.Viens@hhchealth.org.

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.

Interested in speaking with a physician? Join us on April 25th in Meriden, or on May 16th in West Hartford to learn more. Visit our website to sign up or call 1.844.367.1476.

Brenda Viens is a Community Life Skills Dietitian for Backus Hospital and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. Email her at Brenda.Viens@hhchealth.org.


What's New

RLA Graduation

For Recovery Leadership Academy Grads, A New Way to Help Others

By Kate Carey-Trull Lyne Stokes, a former teacher in Hartford Public Schools, was in a severe depression this summer when she reached out to her friend Karen Kangas and found out about the Recovery Leadership Academy. “I was in a dark place in my life at the beginning of the...

TAVR

Can You Get a New Aortic Valve While Partly Awake? With TAVR, Yes.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is the popular technique for replacing a defective heart valve without open-heart surgery, and one Hartford HealthCare fellow found a way to make it even safer, more efficient, more effective and less costly. Dr. Wassim Mosleh, a second-year University of Connecticut cardiology fellow working with...

Parkinson's

Parkinson’s: Where Behavioral Health and Neurology Intersect

By Kate Carey-Trull Chances are, you know someone with Parkinson’s disease. One person is diagnosed every 10 minutes, with about 60,000 Americans diagnosed with the chronic, progressive neurological and degenerative disorder each year. Dr. J. Antonelle de Marcaida, medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute Chase Family Movement...

TryCycle

TryCycle, a Mobile Tool, Gives Added Connection in Recovery

It’s easy enough to talk about the urge to use opioids when you’re seated across from your counselor in a regular appointment. It’s the reason you’re there. But office visits are typically not when the temptation of opioid use disorder (OUD) is most challenging. That itch comes later, when you’re...

Mammography

Mammogram? Let a Women’s Health Coordinator Be Your Guide

Whether it’s a woman’s first or the fifth, having a mammogram can bring a flood of emotions and anxiety. Patients face unfamiliar, sometimes uncomfortable equipment designed to detect abnormalities in the breast. If a mammogram reveals a cause for concern, many women’s minds race as they wait with uncertainty and...

Your brain and aging

How Normal is Memory Decline as We Age?

Normal aging makes joints creak and skin sag. Inside the brain, cognition changes in similarly “predictable ways,” according to Dr. Amy Sanders, director of the Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Memory Care Center in Wethersfield. Research has shown, she said, that the speed with which adults process new information or retrieve stored...