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How to get rid of acid reflux without medications

I've had acid reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, GERD) since my college days.  I can only assume that 3 years of weekend alcohol binges helped to create the issue, but I'm genetically predisposed to having stomach issues because my father has battled reflux and ulcers throughout his life.

In this post I will outline the few strategies I've used to become almost completely free of acid reflux:

  1. Quit taking medications for acid reflux
  2. Use chewing gum for temporary relief
  3. Eat smaller meals
  4. Eat more fiber

Low Acid

As I've gotten older (I'm 32 right now) I've tried to take less medicine and be more cognizant of how I treat my body.  After several years of chewing through Pepcid Complete's, I decided to find a better way.  I talked to a friend of mine and he suggested that I could have "Low Acid" and that Pepcid and other medication would simply exacerbate the issue.

I did some research and found that about a third of people who get reflux have "Low Acid".  What this means is that there is not enough acid in the stomach to digest the food and the food begins to putrify and cause reflux.  Too be honest, I'm not sure if I had "Low Acid" or not, but the revelation that such a thing existed pushed me to try and kick my Pepcid habit.

(UPDATE: I don't believe I had low acid. My family has a history of hyper-acidity and I believe that is the problem.)

Kick the antacid habit!

I went cold turkey and the first few days were rough.  I would try to eat small meals and if I started getting reflux I would drink a little water or eat a light snack.  I needed a better solution and that's when I had a revelation, chewing gum!  I don't chew a lot of gum, or at least I did not at that time, but I did recall that when I did chew gum it seemed to alleviate the acid reflux.

I did some research and actually found a research paper that studied the effects of chewing gum on acid reflux.  The findings were that chewing gum does reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.  Apparently your saliva has bicarbonate in it which neutralizes the acid in your esophagus.  This is your body's natural way of protecting your esophagus.  By chewing gum we greatly increase the amount of saliva going into the esophagus, which gives temporary relief from the reflux.

Smaller meals equals less reflux

I already knew that a sensible diet would help stop acid reflux, so I began eating smaller meals. Even though I was still eating out quite a bit, I simply did not eat as much, and this was a big help in limiting reflux.

Fiber in your diet

The change in my diet that really got rid of reflux for good was adding fiber. I was simply trying to eat better and began noticing that on days when I ate fruits and veggies (apples, pears, salads), my acid reflux did not appear at all. In fact, eating an apple will give you almost immediate relief from reflux and give you prolonged relief.

What are you waiting for?

I hate reflux. It dogged me for years and I feel so much better now that it is a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong, if I go out on a two day bender and eat terribly, I'm going to get reflux. But in my day to day life it is mostly gone and I can still enjoy eating out and a couple of beers and not worry about it.

As always, if you have thoughts or comments, I'd love to hear them.

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  1. April 17th, 2011 at 09:03 | #1

    I just recently talked to my aunt and learned that they found pre-cancerous cells in her throat caused by years of acid reflux. I didn’t realize it would cause cancer, but it is just another motivator to quit. Definitely quit the medicine and try to eat better. Apples do wonders for me personally.

    I still struggle with my diet, but it continues to get better over time. We have two small boys with another on the way, so I understand how hard it is to eat well while dealing with the stress. We started using the http://www.e-mealz.com site to get a weekly menu with easy recipes. Working pretty good right now. I would also get a high quality multi-vitamin, I feel so much better when I take one. (I need to write a post on that!)

    Try the new e-cigarettes to quit smoking. I never thought my mother-in-law and father-in-law would quit, but they are using these and love them. They still get the nicotine, but it’s much better than smoking. They had to try several brands before finding one they really liked.

    Best Wishes,
    Cole

  2. justryah
    April 16th, 2011 at 23:42 | #2

    i have acid reflux and it is baaaad. I’ve had it for a few years now. My eating habits are horrible and I know that’s a huge part of the problem and I’ve been smoking for about 3 years now. That only worsens the problem. Every time I say i’m going to start eating better I end up falling right back in to my bad habits. I will try your suggestions and let you know how they worked for me. i have two children and don’t want to leave this world due to my lack of self control. I say that because I know that continuing to deal with this problem could cause severe health problems. Thanks for your suggestions. I’m looking forward to living a life free of acid reflux. thanx

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