The human stomach is filled with a naturally-produced acidic liquid that activates digestive enzymes that will break down wide variety of consumed foods. However, excess stomach acid can cause severe problems and painful symptoms. The most common symptom associated with excess stomach acid is heartburn. A good way to get rid of this excess acid is by not eating spicy food. Consistent heartburn and acid reflux can cause severe damage to the sensitive tissue of the esophagus and throat. Dealing with excess stomach acid is possible and individuals can follow some basic steps to help regulate the pH levels of their stomach contents. Read on to learn how to reduce excess stomach acid.
Understand the causes of excess stomach acid. This is an important first step to complete before you attempt to regulate the acidity of your stomach by using natural methods or over the counter medication.
- Often, a lifestyle change can be enough to restore the proper acid levels in the stomach.
- Dehydration is one of the leading causes of excess stomach acid. Water has a neutral pH, meaning it is neither an acid nor a base. When your body has sufficient amounts of water, it can naturally regulate the acidity of the stomach content.
- Unnatural or forced losses of fluids can contribute to excess stomach acid. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can therefore also contribute to excess stomach acid buildup. When the body does not receive enough food or is forced to regurgitate ingested food, stomach acid can increase. Altering your lifestyle to deal with these issues is an effective way to combat excess stomach acid.
Understand the contributing factors to excess stomach acid. The foods that you eat can increase stomach acid levels if the food is difficult to digest or highly acidic in content. Spicy foods and salty foods can also contribute to excess stomach acid buildup.
Note the possible symptoms associated with excess stomach acid. Knowledge of the symptoms of an acidic stomach will help you identify whether the pH of your stomach is the culprit behind your symptoms.
- Possible symptoms of excess stomach acid include heartburn, bloating, excess gas, indigestion, nausea, fullness or the presence of ulcers.
- Other symptoms may include bad breath, hair loss, belching or nasal congestion.
- All of these symptoms may be indications that the stomach acid of your stomach is disproportionate and should be regulated.
Drink a glass of whole milk to help combat the effects of excess stomach acid. For individuals who have only the occasional occurrence of excess stomach acid, a glass of milk may help to absorb the excess acid and reduce the symptoms of increased stomach acid levels.
Consume meals on a regular basis and try to eat a wide balance of healthy food items instead of junk food or foods with high sugar and salt contents. Foods that are high in fiber can help to regulate the digestive system and may decrease stomach acid levels.
Eliminate bad habits related to your health which can contribute to excess stomach acid buildup. This includes:
- Refraining from smoking, which can cause buildup of stomach acids and raise the acidic content of the stomach. This can result in prolonged heartburn and other stomach problems.
- Refraining from or reducing alcohol consumption, which can also increase the acidic content of the stomach and lead to stomach acid issues and symptoms.
If heartburn is a daily occurrence, it could be that your esophagus lining has eroded over time from constant acid exposure. It can rebuild itself, but it will take time not being exposed to acid to do so. Consider taking a prescription antacid medication to help counteract the effects of consistent stomach acid issues. Over the counter antacid medication is used on a case by case basis. Prescription medication, on the other hand, is taken daily as a preventative measure against the buildup of stomach acid.
At your local pharmacy or other stores you may find various types of antacid solutions. You should choose the right one for your body type. The two primary kinds are calcium-based, and aluminum-hydroxide-based. Some people have sensitivities or other reasons to avoid excess calcium, while others are worried about excess aluminum intake. If you commonly have heartburn, you may want to ask your doctor which is right for you. Take one or two antacid tablets or a teaspoon of antacid liquid medication after a large meal, or a spicy meal, or a salty meal to help prevent the buildup of stomach acid. Antacid medication comes in flavored chewable tablets that have a chalky consistency. The active ingredients in over the counter antacid medications can help to reduce the occurrence of excess stomach acid. See Warnings below for precautions.
Eat meals slowly to avoid ingesting excess air. When the stomach fills with air, uncomfortable bloating and pressure can occur. When this air is expelled through belching, it may carry excess stomach acid into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation. By eating and drinking slowly, you can reduce the amount of air that is swallowed while eating.
Chew mint to soothe the acidic content of the stomach and help promote effective digestion and decreased symptoms associated with acid buildup.
Avoid carbonated beverages and legumes which can also increase the amount of gas produced in the stomach. Increased gas levels may not contribute to acid overload, but this gas can deliver the acid to parts of the body that are sensitive to the high acidity of stomach fluids.
Avoid eating very large meals. Over-eating to “very full” makes the stomach pump out even more acid to digest all that food, and because the stomach is full, acid has an even better chance of splashing up on the esophagus.
- By eating slower in the previous tip, you’ll recognize you are “actually full” sooner than you would be if you “ate until you were full.”
Exercise regularly. Exercise is important for maintaining overall body health and will contribute to easing symptoms of indigestion, especially as a source of reducing stress buildup. Be sure to keep well hydrated when exercising.
Engage in relaxation techniques and stress relieving activities. Elevated stress levels can trigger an increase in stomach acid production. Ulcers, sores and lesions on the inner lining of the stomach and esophagus are often attributed to high stress levels.
Heartburn could also be a result of a digestion-related health issue. Your stomach may be digesting foods slower, or struggling with certain foods you have eaten. Consider buying a full-spectrum “digestive enzyme” supplement (in pill form) and take 1-2 with a meal to help the food digest faster and more efficiently.
- A stomach acid level that is too low can be just as detrimental to your health as a stomach acid level that is too high. If you overdose on antacid tablets or other acid reducing medications or treatments, your digestion may be affected and your nutrition may suffer. Following the precise guidelines listed on over the counter or prescription treatments for excess acid is extremely important.
- Milk and antacids are not advised as long-term solutions: both will increase overall acid production in your stomach, and are therefore counterproductive. You may try drinking something acidic, like orange juice, which can be initially painful (just as milk is initially soothing) but counter-intuitively reduces acid production in one’s stomach over the long term.
- While some excess stomach acid is caused by foods that are eaten, changes in mood or stress levels, or excess alcohol consumption, some individuals have consistent stomach acid problems. Consistently high stomach acid levels can lead to serious problems such as the deterioration of the esophagus or the development of ulcers. If you experience persistent stomach acid symptoms, consult a physician.
- The use of prescription antacids that reduce the stomach acid can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency which can in turn cause pernicious anemia. This is a serious illness which can eventually cause death if left untreated. Our stomachs are designed to work with adequate acid and proper digestion of food and absorption of vital nutrients cannot occur when the acid is “shut-off” with prescription antacids.
- Keep a journal with lists of the foods you eat, the time it takes you to complete a meal, and any acid-related symptoms that you experience within an hour after your last meal. A journal will help you uncover causes of acid buildup.
- Eat unsalted soda crackers to absorb the acid. Drink baking soda mixed with water to help ease symptoms of heartburn.
- If you are having a heartburn attack, it has been recommended to avoid laying on your back, as this gives the acid a better chance at splashing up.
- Lie on your stomach or apply pressure to it.
- A couple of dessert spoons of Aloe Vera juice daily puts a lining on the digestive parts and protects them from the acid.
- Inducing vomit can be a very effective strategy for immediate relief. Don’t forget your toothbrush!
- Drink custard powder mixed with milk.