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Food is a natural heartburn remedy! Beat acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD with a balanced acid reflux diet. Here's how to avoid foods that trigger heartburn and eat heartburn relief foods to get rid of heartburn fast.

Have you got frequent acid reflux and heartburn, and do you suspect you could be suffering from GERD? You could simply keep running to the pharmacy for over the counter antacids — but anyone who has been using antacids for any length of time knows they don't get rid of heartburn for very long. 

Luckily, food is a natural heartburn remedy. What is the best acid reflux diet? What heartburn relief foods should you be eating, and what foods give you heartburn?

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, And GERD: What Are They, And How Are They Different?

So, you're experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms, or a loved one is, and you're looking for solutions. Before you start looking for natural ways to get rid of heartburn fast, or begin investigating an acid reflux diet, let's take a look at what the terms "heartburn", "acid reflux", and GERD actually mean — there's a lot of confusion out there!

Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux and sometimes acid indigestion, occurs when stomach acids and foods come back into the esophagus.  The term heartburn is sometimes used to refer to the same phenomenon, but it's usually used specifically to describe the uncomfortable feeling you get in your chest and throat when stomach acids make their way into your esophagus. Acid reflux and heartburn can be caused by a wide variety of things, including pregnancy, medication, foods, and alcohol — and though heartburn can be quite painful, it's really not unusual for people to experience it once in a while. [1, 2]

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and this can be described as chronic acid reflux. People get GERD when their lower esophageal sphincter weakens, or when it relaxes under the wrong circumstances. Risk factors for GERD include overweight and obesity, using medications (for asthma, hypertension, depression, allergies, and insomnia, for instance), smoking, and a hiatal hernia. 

GERD symptoms include bad breath, nausea, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, tooth erosion, and breathing difficulties. GERD is usually, but not always, accompanied by heartburn — that painful feeling in your chest and throat. [3]

If you have been experiencing symptoms, but are not quite sure whether you would meet the diagnostic criteria for GERD, please begin the diagnostic process by having a chat with your healthcare provider. 

Why Get Rid Of Heartburn Without Antacids?

Antacids (also often simply called "tums"), medications that neutralize the acidic effects of acid reflux and are used to treat heartburn [4], are available over the counter.

Antacids are the first thing most people will grab when they are suffering from heartburn, because they're readily available, because they're what your pharmacist will recommend to you when you come in looking for "something to get rid of heartburn", and because they are popular. 

Make no mistake — antacids really do get rid of heartburn fast. Antacids are, as such, a good option for people who get heartburn once in a blue moon. Long-term antacid use can, however, lead to all kinds of side effects though, including diarrhea, constipation, kidney stones, and calcium loss. The latter can eventually lead to osteoporosis (brittle bones). [5]

In addition, people with chronic heartburn, that is those who are likely to meet the diagostic criteria for GERD, are likely to be frustrated by the fact that the effects of antacids wear off quickly. Research further notes that other medications for GERD, like prokinetic medications (metoclopramide is an example) and baclofen frequently either don't offer sufficient symptom relief, or cause unbearable side effects. This leaves diagnosed GERD patients waiting for treatment specifically tailored to their needs, and those with frequent heartburn but no diagnosis wondering where to turn instead. [6]

That is where food comes in. Lifestyle recommendations are an increasingly recommended approach to frequent heartburn, whether it's pregnancy heartburn or possible GERD — and food is a natural heartburn remedy. Avoiding foods that trigger heartburn, knowing what you can eat when you have heartburn, and adjusting how you eat your meals can all help you beat heartburn. [7]. 

Your Acid Reflux Diet: Heartburn Relief Foods And Foods That Trigger Heartburn

Studies have made a note of something you already know if you often suffer from heartburn: acid reflux tends to occur while you're eating or right after a meal, suggesting some foods trigger heartburn [8].

What kind of acid reflux diet would you be looking at if you are hoping to use food as a natural heartburn remedy and get rid of heartburn fast?

First off, how you eat matters. People who often get heartburn, or who have GERD, should eat smaller meals more frequently, rather than three big meals. Large portion sizes should be avoided at all costs. Heartburn sufferers should also make sure they decrease their intake of fatty foods.

Drinks that give you heartburn are coffee, regular tea, citrus juice, and alcohol. Foods that cause heartburn include tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, spicy foods, fatty foods, and anything acidic in nature — such as vinegar and citrus fruits. If you want to get rid of heartburn fast, avoiding these foods will help you almost right away. [9, 10, 11

Foods that help with heartburn and acid reflux, meanwhile, include fiber-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, foods rich in polyunsaturated fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables (excluding citrus fruits and tomatoes). Things like brown rice, white cheeses, fish, fresh (non-pickled) beets, apples, potatoes, peas, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and eggs are all great for you. [12]

Don't underestimate the power of water to get rid of heartburn, either! Staying hydrated decreases food cravings, aids digestion, and reduces acid reflux symptoms. One study showed that eating two meals a day, with only fluids — especially water — in between decreased acid reflux symptoms and is a good strategy in the management of GERD. [13]

Weight Loss: An Essential Part Of The Acid Reflux Diet Approach To Heartburn And GERD?

People with frequent episodes of heartburn and people who know they have GERD should note that overweight and obesity are risk factors for heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD for a reason. A high body mass index, and especially an excess of fat in the abdominal region, increases your intra-abdominal pressure. This essentially means that your stomach is pushed upward, increasing your episodes of heartburn. [14]

In short, that means that you will want to try to lose weight to get rid of heartburn. If you are not sure how to go about healthy weight loss, please talk to your primary care provider. 

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