I consider myself a healthy eater. I admit, I do indulge in spicy food occasionally. Yet, I never really experienced acid reflux until a few weeks back.
It all started with mild discomfort, or a burning sensation, after drinking my morning cup of tea with ginger. During the course of the day, it progressed to full-blown acid reflux. It got to the point that I could not even drink a plain glass of water without feeling a burning sensation in the esophagus.
It was time to reflect and take action! Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom and modern holistic nutrition came in very handy.
What Kind of Acid Reflux Do You Have?
Acid reflux is generally believed to be caused by too much acid production in the stomach. Surprisingly, it can be caused by too little hydrochloric acid, too little bile and insufficient digestive enzymes.
Ayurvedic Practitioner Dr. John Douillard, suggests the following tips to determine if your acid reflux is due to high or low acid production.
Too little acid: If the stomach lining burns immediately after eating acidic or spicy foods, this is usually due to too little acid.
Too much acid: If it starts to burn after 10 to 15 minutes, or when you do not eat for a long time, you’re probably dealing with too much acid.
My symptoms were due to too little acid.
Immediate Steps for an Acid Reflux Attack
My immediate steps were to:
- Stop drinking tea.
Although I enjoy only a cup or two during the day, it was time to let go, at least for a few days.
- Start drinking celery juice and chewing on celery sticks.
Celery neutralizes the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and calms the brain.
- Add more spinach, kale, fennel greens and cucumber in the diet.
Alkaline in nature, green leafy veggies soothe the stomach. Fennel greens give immediate results; sauté them in ghee with cumin seeds. Cucumber is very alkaline in nature.
- Drink coconut water throughout the day.
Coconut water is rich in natural fiber, electrolytes and enzymes. Thus it can bring the stomach back to a healthy state, naturally.
- Eat pomegranates and drink pomegranate juice.
It is calming and soothing for excess pitta (heat). It is packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. I drank two ounces at a time, twice a day.
- Avoid spices and citrus fruits. Add more organic ghee and coconut oil.
Since spices were causing burning, I went on a low-spice diet. I avoided eating oranges and grapefruits. I ate bananas. I also added more coconut oil and organic ghee for their soothing and rebuilding ability of the stomach/intestinal lining.
- Drink only warm water throughout the day.
It may sound counter-intuitive to drink warm water during the acid reflux attack, but it helps to calm the stomach. It is also validated by Ayurvedic wisdom.
- Increase daily dose of breathing and meditation.
I became more mindful of my thoughts, behavior, reactions and food. Left-nostril breathing and alternate-nostril breathing help during the acid reflux attack.
With these simple changes, I regained my ability to eat, without the heartburn—although I am more mindful of my eating habits now.
(Possible cause of my heartburn: I was consuming hot lemon water immediately upon waking, followed by a mug of tea with ginger. Over a period of time, this may have led to my heartburn.)