Acid reflux is very common. It is a condition which features an uncomfortable burning pain, also known as heartburn, in the lower chest area. Acid reflux may have many causes and many triggers are dietary related. Nutritional therapy and other naturopathic practices can help get to the root of the problem, to restore balance.
It is caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). If it keeps happening, it's called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
A cough or hiccups that keep coming back
A hoarse voice
Bloating and nausea
Please note: It is recommended that symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty swallowing and chronic cough should also be fully assessed by a medical professional
Symptoms can be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
Certain food and drink such as:
Nutritional Therapy may be beneficial to highlight and exclude, and where necessary replace certain food groups to alleviate symptoms. In our Nutritional Therapy consultations, we include a full medical history and review to understand the underlying issues which may be causing symptoms. Some of these may include:
Being overweight and being pregnant both increase the pressure on the stomach inside the abdomen
Smoking and alcohol: The muscle ring (sphincter) at the bottom of the gullet (oesophagus) may be too relaxed and open, allowing food and acid to reflux upwards. Alcohol and smoking both relax the sphincter.
Psychological stress: The stomach may be producing too much acid. This can happen if you are feeling stressed.
Medications, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers (like ibuprofen)
Hiatus Hernia: In people with a hiatus hernia, stomach contents can reflux easily into the oesophagus
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Try to drink adequate water, and ensure this is alkaline. Alkaline water de-activates pepsin which may be responsible for acid reflux. Read our guide here.
Chew thoroughly and don’t eat too quickly
Include fennel in your diet. Fennel is high in digestive enzymes which help digest your food and reduce reflux. It is also calming for the digestive system.
Aloe vera may reduce acid production and work as an anti-inflammatory agent. Include this daily.
The herb Centaurium may help to relieve symptoms by toning the oesophageal sphincter.
Raise 1 end of your bed 10 to 20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress – your chest and head should be above the level of your waist, so stomach acid does not travel up towards your throat
Keep weight stable
Try to find ways of releasing stress and anxiety
Avoid large, heavy meals in the evening
Wait a few hours after eating, before going to bed
Cut back on alcohol
There are a number of targeted Acid Reflux supplements which may help to reduce symptoms, such as Cytoplan Gastro AD and Enzymedica Acid Soothe. We recommend a holistic approach and Nutritional Therapy looks at the underlying factors involved with longer term gut health, however in the short term taking these supplements may help.
The trigger-food diet involves eliminating common trigger foods, such as coffee and chocolate, to alleviate symptoms. These methods have little clinical backing and results vary between individuals.
This supplemental approach addresses the lack of stomach acid which is said to cause acid reflux in many cases. One study in 6 people with low levels of stomach acid showed that taking 1500 mg of betaine HCl increased stomach acidity [i].
B Vitamins, including folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6, may help acid reflux. B vitamins may be linked to a lower risk of complications caused by acid reflux. They may also relieve heartburn symptoms when paired with other compounds, but more research is needed [ii].
Also eating foods high in calcium and B vitamins to help reduce reflux symptoms. These foods include almonds, whole grains, beans, spinach and kale.
Probiotics play a key role in gut health and immune function. Probiotic use can be beneficial for GERD symptoms, such as regurgitation and heartburn [iii].
Ginger is often used to soothe stomach upset and treat issues like nausea and indigestion[iv]. In studies, ginger was seen to improve several symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain, burping and feelings of fullness[v].
It may be pertinent to test for an infection known as H. Pylori if symptoms persist, as symptoms of reflux can cross over with those of H. Pylori. It is recommended you speak to your GP if this is a concern for you. Testing for H. Pylori is as follows:
In the clinic we offer specific digestive testing, which we advise on during a one-to-one consultation.
We always advise Nutritional Therapy to work with a gut health expert, to help eliminate symptoms of acid reflux and repair the gut to prevent future flare ups. Please contact the team if you'd like to speak to a therapist.
[i] Yago, M.R. Frymoyer, A.R. Smelick, G.S. et al. (2013) ‘Gastric reacidification with betaine HCl in healthy volunteers with rabeprazole-induced hypochlorhydria’. Mol Pharm. 10(11):4032-7.
[ii] Sharp, L. Carsin, A.E. Cantwell, M.M. et al. (2013) ‘Intakes of dietary folate and other B vitamins are associated with risks of esophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett's esophagus, and reflux esophagitis’. J Nutr. 143(12):1966-73.
[iii] Cheng, J., & Ouwehand, A. C. (2020). ‘Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Probiotics: A Systematic Review’. Nutrients, 12(1), 132.
[iv] Nikkhah Bodagh, M. Maleki, I. & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018) ‘Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials’. Food Sci Nutr. 7(1):96-108.
[v] Ebrahimzadeh Attari, V., Somi, M. H., Asghari Jafarabadi, M., Ostadrahimi, A., Moaddab, S. Y., & Lotfi, N. (2019). The Gastro-protective Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in Helicobacter pylori Positive Functional Dyspepsia. Advanced pharmaceutical bulletin, 9(2), 321–324. https://doi.org/10.15171/apb.2...
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.