To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Good Eats: Don’t Feel the Burn,” by Erin Zimniewicz Williams, in the November 2010 issue. Article summary: More than 60 million American adults experience acid reflux at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. About 25 million adults suffer from it daily, experiencing severe refluxes. The antacid industry is a multibillion dollar industry and is growing every year.

To treat reflux naturally, you have to address the underlying cause in addition to alleviating symptoms. To decrease reflux naturally:

  • Chew your food thoroughly, as chewing stimulates the release of saliva that neutralizes stomach acid and protects the esophageal mucosal barrier.
  • Eliminate foods to which you are sensitive or allergic. Common allergenic foods are wheat, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, citrus and shellfish.
  • Avoid high-fat foods and large meals that are slow to digest and that increase esophageal acid exposure.
  • Avoid foods that decrease pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter: chocolate, alcohol, carbonated beverages, tomato products, citrus juices, sugary foods, coffee, carminatives (peppermint, spearmint), dairy products, vinegar and spicy foods, such as peppers and jalapenos. Smoking also decreases pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and—for many reasons—should be avoided.
  • Aim to eat small, frequent meals to decrease your sense of fullness, therefore decreasing the abdominal pressure that comes with large meals.
  • If you are overweight, weight loss can help decrease abdominal pressure.
  • Do not eat for at least three hours before lying down.
  • Find ways to lower your stress, such as exercise, friendship and time management.

Erin Zimniewicz Williams, C.N., L.M.P., is the owner of EZ Balance in Redmond, Washington. She is a certified nutritionist and licensed massage therapist as well as a yoga and Pilates instructor.