Garlic and acid reflux

How to Take Raw Garlic for Acidity. Conventional antacids can relive the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux, but they do nothing to maintain the necessary balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Fortunately, there is a natural remedy that does both. Herbalists and even medical doctors recommend that you take raw garlic for acidity.

Buy firm, fresh garlic bulbs. If the cloves appear shrunken or are squishy to the touch, they are not fresh. Do not buy “sprouted” garlic unless you are going to plant it.

Pull back the thin peel and separate a garlic clove from the bulb. You may need a knife to pry it out.

Place the garlic clove under the blade of a knife next to the handle and hit the flat of the blade with your fist. The skin should pop open, making the clove easy to peel. If this does not happen, the garlic is not fresh enough.

Chop the clove or put it through a garlic press. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Eat the garlic raw. For other health benefits pickled, cooked or dried might do, but to cure acidity, the garlic must be raw.

Repeat. Two cloves are the recommended amount to take for acidity. You may take them together or at different times.

Eat a piece of bread or a few crackers to ease the hot taste of the raw garlic.

Consider other ways to take the garlic into your system. Mix a clove of pressed garlic or 3 or 4 drops of garlic oil with 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable oil and rub it on your stomach after meals.


To insure freshness and quality, buy domestic garlic grown in your own country or your own state.


Only peel and chop as much garlic as you are going to use right away. Allicin, the chemical that eases acidity and neutralizes H. pylori, breaks down quickly after the clove is exposed to the air. If you have frequent attacks of heartburn or indigestion, call your doctor for an appointment. If acidity is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.

Heartburn triggers: simple food swaps to stop the burn

  • Breakfasts on the go: simple and healthy recipes and ideas
  • Is there a difference between acid reflux and indigestion?
  • Tips to combat stress
  • Heartburn triggers

  • Breakfasts on the go: simple and healthy recipes and ideas

    Breakfast is widely regarded as the most important meal of the day – but many of us skip it because we’d rather push the snooze button and have an extra five minutes in bed.

    However, just because your morning routine is more rushed than relaxed, doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy breakfast.

    Rennie Peppermint takes a look at the best breakfasts you can prepare in a flash and grab as you run out the door to catch your bus…

  • Is there a difference between acid reflux and indigestion?

    Quite often, the terms acid reflux and indigestion are used interchangeably without fully understanding the differences between the two.

    There are in fact a number of differences between the two as indigestion is not, as many believe, just a milder form of acid reflux.

    Rennie have taken the time to look into the two issues, and have put together this guide to allow you to understand the differences for yourself.

  • Tips to combat stress

    Stress can be a major contributor to heartburn or indigestion – which is all the more reason to adopt healthy ways of dealing with stress.

    Thankfully, finding new ways to cope and relax doesn’t have to involve spending large amounts of time or money, there are plenty of things you can start doing today to relieve the stress in your life.

    Rennie takes a look at some of the best things you can do to ease the tension…

  • Heartburn triggers

    Heartburn is an extremely uncomfortable experience that affects thousands of people across Ireland on a daily basis.

    Also known as acid reflux, heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that occurs as a result of stomach acid rising up into the oesophagus.

    Heartburn symptoms can also range from burning in the chest to a sour acidic taste in the back of throat and is often triggered by foods many of us eat on a daily basis.

Best home remedies for acidity and heartburn

All of us have suffered from acidity at some point or other. Severe pain in the stomach, burning, bloating, hiccupping, flatulence and acid reflux are the common symptoms. While our immediate and natural response is to reach for that antacid when suffering from acidity, it will not give you long-term relief. Instead, we suggest, opt for these kitchen treasures to cure and control acidity and boost your overall stomach health. We give you the most effective remedies for acidity, heartburn and indigestion.


Bananas are extremely beneficial for gut and stomach health because of their high fibre content which enhances the digestion process. They are rich in potassium and increase the production of mucus in the stomach which prevents excess acid formation and also fights the harmful effects of excessive acid production. A ripe banana is a perfect antidote to severe bouts of acidity.
Cold milk

It is a known fact that milk contains a high amount of calcium which makes it a superfood for bone health. But did you know that calcium is also one of the main ingredients in your over-the-counter antacids? Calcium helps to maintain the Ph balance and aids in proper digestion. This is the reason cold milk can provide you instant relief from the burning sensation one feels during acidity and acid reflux. The calcium in milk also curbs and prevents acid build up and also absorbs the excess acid produced. Remember though that cold milk is more effective than hot milk and not to add any additives like sugar, or chocolate powder to the milk.

Cold buttermilk is another useful antidote to acidity. To get relief from heartburn, drink up a glass of cold buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid that neutralizes the acidity in the stomach. The lactic acid further soothes the stomach by coating the stomach lining and reducing the irritation and acid reflux symptoms. Besides, buttermilk is a naturally occurring probiotic. Probiotics are extremely important for good digestion process and that’s why many doctors recommend probiotic supplements on a daily basis. The good bacteria present in probiotics prevent the gas build-up and bloating that often causes acid reflux. It also allows the nutrients and foods to be digested and absorbed properly which ultimately eliminates and reduces the possibility of acidity occurrence and keeps your gastrointestinal health in good condition. This is why Indian meals are followed by buttermilk or chaas as it is known in Indian households. Next time you have a spicy or heavy meal follow it up with buttermilk and sprinkle a dash of black pepper powder to make it even more beneficial.
Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds contain a compound called Anethole which works as a soothing agent for the stomach and prevents spasm and flatulence. It is also loaded with vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre that aids the process of good digestion. As it also contains anti-ulcer properties it cools the lining of the stomach and helps in relieving constipation as well. Fennel seeds also come in very handy for tackling indigestion and acidity in pregnant women. A lot of pregnant women suffer from severe indigestion during pregnancy, but they are prohibited from taking a lot of food items and medicines. Fennel seeds function as an effective natural remedy to tackle indigestion, acidity and acid reflux. They are also beneficial for breastfeeding mothers as it is known to increase breast milk in nursing women. Chew a few fennel seeds to reduce the symptoms of acidity or soak a few fennel seeds in water and drink up the water and chew on the fennel seeds to get immediate relief.

Basil Leaves
Basil leaves or Tulsi, as we know them better, stimulates our stomach to produce more mucus which in turn helps to relieve heartburn and nausea that often occurs with acidity. Chew 2-3 basil leaves to minimize your stomach acid. Furthermore, basil leaves when consumed soothes the inflamed oesophagus and stomach lining caused by excessive stomach acid production. Basil leaves also have antiulcer properties which reduce the effect of gastric acids and curb gas production. Basil leaf juice and powder are also often used in Ayurvedic medicines for indigestion.
Pineapple juice

Pineapple juice is another natural remedy to provide relief from acidity and heartburn. Drink a glass of pineapple juice if you have had a spicy meal and detect symptoms of acidity. Pineapple juice is a tried and tested remedy to prevent as well as reduce hyperacidity and heartburn. Pineapples also contain bromelain, which is an enzyme that helps controls levels of hydrochloric acid in your stomach and works to prevent severe acid reflux. Besides pineapple juice, edible aloe vera juice is also known to be a coolant and a natural remedy to relieve heartburn.
Raw almonds

Another home remedy that works well to relieve acidity is raw almonds. Raw almonds are simply natural almonds that have not been soaked or tampered with in any way. In ancient times in the middle eastern countries, almonds were regarded as a natural remedy for ulcers and heartburn. Today, medical and natural therapy practitioners too advocate the benefits of the nut in curing acidity. Almonds are rich in natural oils which soothe and neutralize the acid in the stomach. The high fibre content of the nut also helps in the digestion process. Besides raw almonds, you can also have almond milk to keep your stomach in good health. Almonds and bananas, when taken together, can be a perfect antidote to acidity. Next time you are suffering from a severe heartburn, pop in a handful of almonds rather than over-the-counter pills.
Mint leaves
Mint leaves or pudina can also help when suffering from indigestion or acidity. Mint leaves are one of the best coolants available in nature and thus this property makes them reduce the burning and pain that often accompanies acidity and indigestion. Mint helps lower the acid content of the stomach and improves digestion. Chop on some mint leaves to control and soothe acidity or boil a few leaves and drink the water once it cools to boost stomach and intestine health.
Clove helps to soothe inflamed and damaged stomach lining thus proving very beneficial for heartburns and stomach spasms. Clove since ancient times have been a part of Indian kitchens and this cooking staple which has alkaline and carminative properties also helps to ward off effects of excess acid produced in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract which implies that it does not allow the formation of gas. Sprinkle crushed cloves and cardamom in your curries and Indian desserts to treat acidity, prevent flatulence, and even get rid of bad breath.
This is another kitchen staple that has myriad health benefits. Gingerols is the main ingredient found in ginger that gives it it’s healing properties whether for a normal cough and cold or various digestive and intestinal disorders. So here’s how ginger helps in alleviating acidity. Ginger has properties that destroy the acidity triggering pylori bacteria, decreases inflammation, minimizes nausea and calms the stomach muscles. Fresh ginger also helps in the treatment of nausea. Ginger is also an active ingredient in plenty of Ayurvedic medicines for indigestion. Ginger can be consumed raw, in tea or in cooking. When suffering from severe indigestion and acidity, combine 1 tbsp of ginger and lemon juice with 2 tbsp. of honey in warm water. This will help to reduce the symptoms of acidity, keep your metabolism strong and relieve weakness and pain associated with acidity.
A lot of people feel surprised to know that garlic is a great natural remedy in the treatment of indigestion. Garlic is actually a powerhouse of antioxidants which obviously makes it a champion of heart health, but it is equally powerful as an antidote to acidity too. Raw garlic kills the pathogenic microorganism that is a major culprit in causing gastroenteritis. Including garlic in your everyday meals can actually stimulate your stomach health and prevent indigestion and consequently acidity. However, like most things, too much of garlic in rare cases can lead to minor heartburn. In that case, one or two cloves can reverse this kind of heartburn.
Amla in Ayurveda is considered a Sattvik food which means it is a food that has an overall calming effect on our body, which makes it a natural deterrent for acidity. Amla also contains a high amount of vitamin C which helps in healing the injured stomach lining and oesophagus. Have one teaspoon of amla powder daily to prevent those annoying bouts of acidity.
So, now that we have told you some super accessible kitchen ingredients to beat the acidity blues, try to opt for these natural remedies rather than the closest bottle of antacid available when you experience discomfort, nausea or burning due to acidity. We are also arming you with some other easy hacks to fight acidity.
Other Useful hacks to treat acidity
Sleep on your left side
When you hit the bed, turn onto your left side and sleep. This position prevents acid reflux as it does not allow corrosive stomach acids to enter the oesophagus.
Chew your food properly
Our elders always told us to chew our food thoroughly before ingesting it. Turns out, it indeed is a great piece of advice. Our stomach has to work really hard to break the food down when we don’t chew properly. This not only makes the process of absorption of nutrients difficult but also hinders the entire digestive process thus paving way for indigestion and consequently acidity. On the other hand, you eliminate the possibility of acidity to a large extent when you chew your food well and allow it to reach your stomach and intestines in a much more digestible form. Also, take care to finish your meals 2-3 hours before bedtime so your stomach gets ample time to carry out the digestive process and empty itself.

Get some form of exercise at least for half an hour in a day
Exercise is the answer to almost all our ailments. It’s no different when it comes to acidity, and we tell you exactly how. Lack of exercise leads to excessive deposition of fats, especially in the abdominal area. Excess abdominal fat pushes stomach acids up into the oesophagus which can further lead to frequent heartburns. Do those crunches and runs regularly to prevent acidity and shed those extra pounds.
Drink lots of water
Water helps to neutralize the acid and throw out the excess digestive juices present in the stomach. Flushing out the excesses helps to keep your digestive system robust and better functioning. If you are suffering from frequent bouts of acidity and heartburn, drink a glass of lukewarm water in the morning and at night before going to sleep. You will benefit immensely.
Eat smaller portions at regular intervals
A large meal often triggers acidity more often than not. What happens if when your stomach is full, there is a greater chance that the stomach acids can be pushed back up the oesophagus which will trigger reflux, indigestion, stomach spasms and discomfort. Instead, eat smaller portions but at regular intervals to prevent acidity. This is a good tip also because staying hungry for too long or having long time gaps between your meals can also cause acidity.
Spend some time in the sun
Surprised? Spending time outdoors can actually boost your digestive process. Sun rays help the body produce vitamin D which further balances the production of over200 antimicrobial body chemicals that fight stomach irregularities and helps treat acid reflux. So, make sure to get your dose of sunlight and vitamin D.
Chew gum
It’s really that simple. The digestive process actually begins in our mouth. Gum stimulates the flow of saliva, which in turn keeps the acid levels down and balances your pH levels. After your meal, chew a gum for ten minutes to get fresh breath and prevent acidity.
Avoid tight jeans
Tight clothing is binding on your stomach. Loosen that buckle or wear a size bigger denim to allow your food to have an easy passage and not restrict your stomach’s functioning.
Quit smoking
Yes, smoking can cause heartburn too. Nicotine present in cigarettes weakens the valve which prevents the stomach acids from flowing into the oesophagus and gastrointestinal tract which causes reflux and heartburn. Kick the butt. It’s always a good idea. Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Why People Who Suffer from Recurring Heartburn Should Avoid Tomatoes

You’re probably already familiar with that burning sensation in your chest and the bitter taste of acid in your throat that seems to come on without warning. It can last for hours after consuming your favorite plate of pasta or pizza. Unfortunately, it can be hard to resist your favorite tomato-based dishes even though it’s often a dietary disaster.

Why Does Your Love for Tomatoes Punish You So?

Unfortunately, for heartburn sufferers, tomatoes contain two types of acids, malic and citrus, that trigger heartburn. When you consume tomato-based products, your stomach produces gastric acid to break down foods that are sitting in your stomach. However, some people create too much gastric acid when they eat tomato-based foods. This overflow of gastric acid backs up into the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the chest. The only completely effective way to stop this vicious cycle is to remove tomatoes from your diet.

What If You Just Can’t Give Up on Tomatoes?

Tomatoes can be especially tempting, but chronic heartburn can become difficult to manage. There are medications to manage heartburn, but not everyone responds to these drugs. Also, heartburn can be a sign of GERD, a disease that can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer or esophageal cancer. Eliminating problem foods is the logical choice when faced with this very real dilemma. There are also tests to diagnose issues like GERD.

Don’t Want to Give Up Pasta? Try the Ultimate Nomato Sauce for those who can’t tolerate tomatoes!

Ultimate Nomato Sauce Recipe

Low-fat, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free tomato sauce alternative for those who just can’t stomach tomatoes.

  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 small, peeled beetroot
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Finely dice the onion.
  2. Crush the garlic.
  3. In a large non-stick saucepan, saute your onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Add a splash of water if needed to stop them from sticking.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients and the mix until boiling before reducing to a simmer. Cook until the carrots and pumpkin are soft.
  5. Once the vegetables are soft, blend them until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Season to taste.

You can use Nomato sauce right away or store in a glass jar in the fridge. You can also freeze portions in Ziploc baggies to use later. The sauce keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.

Another option for pasta lovers is a raw alternative to pasta and tomato sauce that tends not to trigger heartburn.

Raw Mango Avocado Zoodles

  • 5 zucchinis
  • 4 mangoes
  • 3 green onion tops
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 an avocado
  1. Spiralize the zucchinis and place them in a bowl.
  2. Blend the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mango dressing over the noodles.
  3. Mix in together and top with some green onions or chives.

Onions, spicy dishes, and fried foods have gotten a bad rap. While there’s some evidence these foods can trigger heartburn, experts say how you eat is more important than what you eat when it comes to controlling painful flare-ups.

“The old adages about onions and fruit juice and things like that—those foods are not as problematic as we used to think,” says Michael D. Brown, MD, a professor of medicine and digestive diseases at Rush University Medical Center. “When I talk to patients now, we talk about how much they eat and how they eat it, not what they eat.” (Discover how restoring the balance of healthy flora in your gut can help you solve the hidden cause of many chronic health issues with The Good Gut Diet.)

Other experts agree. “The evidence to support eliminating certain foods to reduce the symptoms of heartburn is not strong,” says Nyree Dardarian, MS, RD, director of the Center for Integrated Nutrition and Performance at Drexel University.

So what is causing your heartburn? Brown says heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, or the bubbling up of stomach acids into your esophagus. Your esophagus—which connects your throat to your stomach—isn’t designed to handle those acids, so reflux creates a painful burning sensation.

“Almost everybody experiences heartburn once in a while,” Brown says. “But if it happens often , then you have GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.” Brown says that clinical research has linked frequent heartburn and GERD to trouble swallowing, tooth enamel erosion, throat problems, and more serious issues like asthma or even pulmonary injury.

MORE: 10 Slimming Smoothie Recipes
While specific foods may trigger heartburn for some people, Brown and Dardarian say there are more important factors raising your risk for the painful postmeal condition.

1. Chowing down too close to bedtime (or naptime)
“Eating within 2 to 3 hours of lying down is a problem,” Brown says. Your body can only do so much to fight gravity. And if you’re hitting the sack on a full stomach, you’re helping the contents of your belly slide up into your esophagus, he says. Especially for people diagnosed with GERD, eating before lying down is a no-no, shows research from Japan. Even sitting back or reclining too soon after a meal could trigger heartburn, Dardarian says.

2. Eating large or too-frequent meals

John Kuczala/Getty Images
The more food you pack into your stomach, the more likely some of it will sneak its way up into your esophagus, suggests a recent study from Canadian, Australian, and Iranian researchers. Eating frequently and at odd intervals also seem to bring on the burn, Dardarian says.

MORE: 13 Power Foods That Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

3. High BMI

Carrying excess weight slows food’s course though your digestive system, creates more pressure within your abdomen, and loosens the sphincter muscle that keeps your stomach contents out of your esophagus, concludes a study from the Annals of Internal Medicine. All of those may explain the link between heartburn and a high BMI, the study authors say. “Reduction in weight through lifestyle modifications such as meeting with a registered dietitian, eating less, and moving more may be the best solutions to reduce the pain,” Dardarian says.

MORE: 12 Fish To Never Ever Eat

4. Drinking too much

Alyson Aliano/Getty Images
“Alcohol is thought to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that helps keep the contents of your stomach in your stomach,” Dardarian says. If you’re drinking just before bedtime—and coupling that last glass of wine with a pre-bed snack—you’re especially asking for trouble.

MORE: 8 Things That Happen When You Stopping Drinking Alcohol

5. Eating the wrong foods
Yes, research has linked onions, spicy foods, and soda to heartburn. But those triggers aren’t universal. “If you have bad symptoms when you eat something, by all means, don’t eat it,” Brown says. But the idea that acidic foods will drive up your stomach acid levels and cause heartburn is problematic. “The thing about acid in food is that it’s minuscule compared to what’s already in your stomach,” Brown says. “Your stomach makes about 2 liters of hydrochloric acid a day to break down what you eat, so high-acid foods aren’t going to make much of a difference.”

So, What Foods Should You Eat?
Apart from avoiding those foods that set off your heartburn (duh), “a diet that contains lots of fiber, legumes, and vegetables, as well as olive oil and other components of Mediterranean-style diets, seems to be protective against GERD and heartburn,” Brown says. Substituting water for carbonated beverages like soda also seems to be helpful, Dardarian says.

Markham Heid Markham Heid is an experienced health reporter and writer, has contributed to outlets like TIME, Men’s Health, and Everyday Health, and has received reporting awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Maryland, Delaware, and D.C.

8 ways to quell the fire of heartburn

Heartburn is a common problem. It’s caused by the backwash of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. This is formally called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). More than just a minor discomfort, heartburn can significantly reduce quality of life. “Heartburn can cause damage to the esophagus and even increase the risk of cancer if ignored and untreated,” says Dr. William Kormos, editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

These eight steps can help ease heartburn.

  1. Eat in a heartburn-smart way. Large meals put pressure on the muscle that normally helps keep stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. The more you eat, the longer it takes for the stomach to empty, which contributes to reflux. Try smaller, more frequent meals — and don’t wolf down your food.
  2. Avoid late-night eating. Having a meal or snack within three hours of lying down to sleep can worsen reflux, causing heartburn. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out.
  3. Don’t exercise right after meals. Give your stomach time to empty; wait a couple of hours. But don’t just lie down either, which will worsen reflux.
  4. Sleep on an incline. Raising your torso up a bit with a wedge-shaped cushion may ease nighttime heartburn. Wedges are available from medical supply companies and some home goods stores. Don’t just prop your head and shoulders up with regular pillows — doing so can actually increase pressure on the stomach by curling you up at the waist.
  5. Identify and avoid foods associated with heartburn. Common offenders include fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate. Carbonated beverages cause belching, which also causes reflux.
  6. Chew sugarless gum after a meal. Chewing gum promotes salivation, which helps neutralize acid, soothes the esophagus, and washes acid back down to the stomach. But avoid peppermint-flavored gum, which may trigger heartburn more than other flavors.
  7. Rule out medication side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether any of the medications you take might cause pain resembling heartburn or contribute to reflux.
  8. Lose weight if you need to. Being overweight puts more pressure on the stomach and pushes stomach contents into the esophagus. The tight-fitting clothing and belts that come with weight gain may also be a factor.

For more on relieving heartburn and treating a sensitive gut, purchase The Sensitive Gut by Harvard Medical School.

Image: iStock

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Heartburn Diet and Tips

How to eat well at home and dine out sensibly.

You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods to avoid heartburn. A well-stocked pantry with heartburn-friendly foods is key. So is making the right choices at restaurants. Heartburn foods that trigger symptoms, such as fats, oils, chocolate, or citrus products can be less tempting when there’s a supply of “safe” ingredients in your kitchen cabinets. The added benefit of a good heartburn diet is healthier eating for the entire family.

Heartburn-Reducing Foods to Keep at Home

Grains: Try to purchase whole grains versus refined grains whenever possible. Be sure to store in an airtight container after opening.

Pasta: Be sure to prepare these with a light broth-type sauce (not tomato-based or high-fat). Perk up the dish with herbs like basil and tarragon.

Beans, Peas, and Lentils: All of these items provide a good source of vegetable protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and iron. They are also an excellent source of fiber for your heartburn diet. Keep both dried and canned varieties on your shelf, and toss them into soups, salads, and pasta and casserole dishes.

Oils: Use oils in moderation. Darker oils (such as sesame) have a wonderful flavor, and a little goes a long way in adding good taste and enjoyment to dishes.

Vinegars: These can be problem items for heartburn sufferers because of the acid content. However, cider vinegar and rice vinegar are often tolerated better by many people, and both add nice flavor to food. Use other vinegars in moderation if there hasn’t been a problem with them in the past.

Condiments and Canned Goods: Most people with heartburn can eat mustard, and some can handle ketchup (in small amounts) fairly well. These are handy items to perk up recipes, and quick add-ons to a meal.

Spices and Herbs: Keep lots of dried spices and herbs on the shelf. They are generally less likely to promote heartburn, though each individual’s system will respond differently. Dried/dehydrated forms of onion and garlic are more user-friendly than fresh.

Note: There are several spices that are generally irritating to the gastric (stomach) lining and are especially troublesome for heartburn sufferers and their heartburn diet. These include black pepper, mint, crushed red pepper flakes, curry powder, cloves, mustard seeds, hot sauce, chili powder, nutmeg and fresh garlic. They may be troublesome for some sufferers, but no problem for others. The best advice is to listen to your own body.

Baking Supplies: Muffins and quick breads made from scratch can be made with less fat and without other troublesome ingredients such as pepper or spice. Whole-grain breads are made more simply with a bread machine. Here are some of the basic ingredients:

Smart Heartburn Food Choices at Restaurants

Just as at home, some foods served at restaurants, such as high-fat dishes, certain spices, citrus products like tomatoes or oranges, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate can bring on heartburn.

Restaurant meals can also bring on heartburn because they tend to be higher in fat. Fat takes longer to digest, so food stays in the stomach longer and has a greater likelihood of causing problems. Restaurant portions also tend to be larger than recommended serving sizes. This increases pressure in the stomach and can cause acidic stomach contents to backsplash into the esophagus.

Heartburn foods to avoid:

  • Foods that are fried, sautéed, or prepared in butter or oil

  • High-fat side dishes such as onion rings or French fries

  • High-fat sauces, gravies, and salad dressings

  • Tomato-based foods and juices

  • Caffeinated beverages such as cola and iced tea

  • Citrus drinks such as lemonade or orange juice

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Chocolate

  • After-dinner mints (peppermint can exacerbate heartburn)

Heartburn foods to look for:

  • White meat, which is lower in fat than dark meat

  • Leaner cuts of red meat

  • Smaller portion sizes

  • White wine instead of red

  • Lighter desserts, such as angel food cake

10 Tips for Eating Well — While Managing Heartburn

No, you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods. Try these tips for managing frequent heartburn (occurring two or more days a week).

  1. Stay away from foods such as citrus fruits, chocolate, peppermint, spearmint, tomatoes or tomato-based products, raw onions and garlic.

  2. Avoid fatty or greasy foods as much as possible. They tend to slow down digestion, which means that both the foods and the acid your body produces to break them down remain in the stomach a long time. This gives the acid a greater opportunity to move backward up into the esophagus.

  3. Be careful using spices. Monitor the effect the following spices have on your heartburn and avoid those you identify as triggers: ground cinnamon, ground mace, ground ginger, coriander, dill, parsley, garlic powder (or fresh garlic), basil, thyme, tarragon, onion powder and dried onion pieces, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, Tabasco sauce, chili powder, curry powder, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg.

  4. Choose vinegars wisely. Some are gentler than others: For example, cider vinegar and rice vinegar are tolerated better by many people.

  5. Cut back on drinking coffee; citrus juices; and caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages. Beer and caffeinated beverages—such as coffee, tea and cola make stomach acids even more irritating if they make their way up the esophagus.

  6. Practice portion control. Your stomach responds to large portions by producing large amounts of acid. More stomach acid means a greater chance of acid reflux.

  7. Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. Doing so will make you feel fuller—as food has had time to digest—and decrease the likelihood of heartburn.

  8. Finish eating your final meal of the day at least two to three hours before going to bed. The added time will give your food and acid levels a chance to clear before lying down—the position in which heartburn is most likely to occur.

  9. Keep a stash of safe snacks. Do you reach for high-fat snacks or chocolate when hunger hits? Have on hand healthy foods that you enjoy, such as cutup vegetables, raisins or graham crackers.

  10. After a meal, try sucking on hard candy. This triggers the production of saliva, which acts as a natural barrier to acid. But be sure to avoid mint candies.

These spices for digestion can help improve your digestion and ease your digestive distress.

By Ritamarie Loscalzo, DC, CCN • A version of this article was originally published on

The traditional Western diet (processed and “white” foods) and all our vices (sodas, sugar, alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep, gulping down our meals, stress…) can reduce the efficiency of your digestive system.

Along with making conscious lifestyle decisions and eating whole foods and a lot of greens, I like to improve my digestion by adding flavorful spices that give me incremental digestive support. It’s easy to use them — and they taste good, too!

Spices Help Improve the Efficiency of Your Digestive System

Spices have been used throughout history as digestive stimulants.

In recent times, studies have shown that many spices stimulate the liver, resulting in it secreting bile that has a higher percentage of bile acids. Bile acids are important for fat digestion, as well as absorption, so making sure you have enough of them is important.

Many spices have also been found to stimulate the activities of pancreatic lipase, protease, and amylase. These enzymes help support a more efficient digestive system.

Some spices also help improve food transit time in the gastrointestinal tract. A sluggish GI tract allows time for more water to be absorbed out of the digested food; this can result in painful constipation. Additionally, the longer digested food is allowed to sit in your system before it is eliminated, the more prone it is to be preyed upon by unhealthy bacteria.

Some Spices Can Prevent Gas and Bloating

Many of my clients routinely tell me they experience gas and bloating. Maybe you do, too.

Guess what? Many spices have carminative properties. This means they help reduce bloating and flatulence — which is uncomfortable gas.

Some of The Best Spices For Digestion

1) Ginger

Ginger contains phenolic compounds which are known to relieve gastrointestinal irritations. It stimulates saliva and bile production. Animal studies have also demonstrated that ginger prominently enhanced intestinal lipase activity, which is an enzyme used in digestion.

Ginger reduces intestinal contractions by relaxing the intestinal muscles and allowing digested food to pass more easily. In fact, it reduces cramping of the stomach and bowels and may even help with menstrual cramping.

Ginger is good for reducing gas and bloating and is famous for addressing other gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea due to morning sickness and chemotherapy. Unlike Dramamine, ginger can stop your nausea without making you sleepy.

The Zingiberaceae botanical family to which ginger is a part of also includes turmeric and cardamom, which are both incredibly healthy spices themselves.

How to Use Ginger For Better Digestion

My favorite dishes to add ginger to are my warming soups.

Many of my clients drink ginger tea in the morning to wake up their sluggish digestion. I also sometimes add it to water, tea, or even hot water with lemon when I am traveling to settle things down after too much “hotel” food, or simply for a refreshing, cleansing drink.

I also use both fresh ginger root, as well as the dried spice, in smoothies and juices.

Note that ginger does have a blood-thinning action, so it should be used with caution by those taking blood-thinning medications. And you may want to avoid consuming ginger for two weeks prior to surgery and another week following surgery. Check with your doctor.

2) Coriander Seeds/Cilantro

Coriander seeds, which yield cilantro, have been used for thousands of years to help with digestion. Both coriander seeds and cilantro are healthy, but the seeds contain more health benefits for digestion.

Coriander has carminative properties, which means it helps with gas. It is also known to have antispasmodic and stomachic properties. It calms intestinal spasms that can lead to diarrhea so it may be helpful to some people having irritable bowel syndrome. Coriander can also help settle indigestion.

As an added benefit, cilantro is packed with phytochemicals, which are super antioxidants. It is also used to lower blood sugar and is being studied in animals for its potential cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Cilantro has also been researched as a heavy metal detoxifier. In rats, it has shown to suppress lead accumulation.

How to Use Coriander and Cilantro For Better Digestion

Coriander is sold in whole seeds and in powdered form. I always buy the seeds, as the oils dissipate very quickly once they’ve been ground, usually within a few months.

Use coriander as a delicious rub in stews, pickled dishes, and marinades. You can also add it to soups and smoothies.

Fresh cilantro is wonderful in hot and spicy dishes because of its cooling effect. Just chop up a little cilantro and throw it in whatever dish you are cooking. It encourages the production of supportive digestive enzymes that break down your food.

3) Cardamom

Cardamom is part of the ginger family, so no wonder it’s helpful for your digestion.

It has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries but is also backed by science as having actions that help relieve bloating and gas (aka carminative properties). It also has antispasmodic properties, as it can slow the rate of stomach muscle cramping.

Cardamom also stimulates the appetite along with easing gas, nausea, indigestion, and cramping. It helps to kill off any food-borne bacteria in the digestive tract, thus helping to protect against food poisoning and gastric distress.

Cardamom pods contain a compound called limonene, which is usually found in citrus peels. It is known to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones, as well as relieve heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

Cardamom also has antioxidant benefits, as well as being a good source of minerals, such as iron, manganese, calcium, and magnesium.

Cardamom works well as a diuretic and can reduce bloating, water retention, swelling, and edema.

How to Use Cardamom For Better Digestion

Cardamom is often used in sweet and savory dishes. And it can be prepared as a delicious, warming tea by placing four cardamom pods in two cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Sweeten with stevia, if desired.

Cardamom pods can be chewed on to relieve tooth and gum pain, as well as prevent infection.

4) Fennel Seeds

Fennel stimulates the production of gastric juices and is another great spice having carminative properties. It is often used as an after-dinner digestive aid. It also has antispasmodic properties.

Fennel seeds are a very rich source of dietary fiber as well. It consists of metabolically inert insoluble fiber, so it increases the bulk of the food you eat as it goes through your digestive system. This eases constipation problems. Its fiber helps protect your colon.

Fennel also contains a variety of antioxidants, such as quercetin, which is thought to offer protection from aging and diseases, including cancer.

How to Use Fennel Seeds For Better Digestion

A good trick (thanks to my friend and peer, Dr. Alan Christianson) to reduce bloating and gas, is to heat fennel seeds on low in a skillet with some sea salt.

Let them get slightly brown, and then store them in a tightly closed container. You can add a few pinches of these slightly cooked seeds to any of your dishes. It really works!

6 Other Spices That Can Help Digestion

  • Turmeric — This Indian spice aids digestion while soothing your digestive tract. It has been found to help relieve heartburn, reduce stomach pain (due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds), reduce flatulence, and more.
  • Cumin — Cumin is another great spice for digestion and is great for heartburn.
  • Lemon Balm — One of my digestive spice favorites is lemon balm!
  • Garlic — Garlic protects gut immunity.
  • Fenugreek — Fenugreek acts as a natural digestive and helps flush out toxins from the body.
  • Cinnamon Bark — Warming cinnamon bark is a mild but useful remedy for sluggish digestion. The German Commission E recommends it for loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints, bloating, and flatulence.

There are other great spices for digestion. Just go to a reputable herb and spice shop online and do a little research. You’ll find that a lot of the Italian spices are also good for digestive support.

Go wild! Find some new tastes that also will help your tummy and health.

How to Store Spices

Remember to store your spices in clean, airtight containers away from the heat and light. I keep a few of my spices that seem to spoil too quickly in the fridge.

Editor’s note: If you want an easy way to get the benefits of ginger and turmeric, you might be interested in a high-quality supplement called Curcumin Gold. This 100% vegan, organic, soy-free, non-GMO product from PuraTHRIVE combines the power of curcumin (the active component in turmeric) with ginger oil, vegan DHA fatty acids from algae, and beneficial phospholipids. The company uses a cutting-edge micelle liposomal delivery mechanism that has been found to increase the bioavailability of the curcumin by up to 185 times. Learn more (and get a special discount) here.

Let us know in the comments:

  • How have you used spices for digestion?

  • Which spices are your favorites?

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Conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux can be minor annoyances or a major hindrance to enjoying life. Chances are, if you suffer from chronic heartburn, then you know the dietary advice: avoid trigger foods, eat small meals, avoid drinking liquids while you eat, take a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to aid digestion, and don’t exercise or go to bed right after eating.

However, the herb world has its remedies as well (of course!). Not only can herbs help soothe the burning of acid reflux, some can actually help heal any damage done to the digestive system by excessive acid production.

Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis):

Marshmallow contains a mucilage (read: slimy and soothing) quality which helps to coat the esophagus and stomach lining, creating a protective barrier against stomach acid.

Marshmallow can be taken in capsule form or as a cold infusion (steep a tablespoon of marshmallow root overnight in two cups of cold water—you’ll end up with a thick, soothing, slightly bitter, and sweet-tasting concoction which will instantly soothe pain). Bonus: Marshmallow helps heal damage done by excessive acid production.

Note: while marshmallow is totally safe and non-toxic, because of its mucilaginous qualities, it may interfere with the absorption of other medications, so take it on its own.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa):

In my experience, turmeric relieves pain on contact. I like to use it as a gargle for sore throats, heartburn, and sores in the mouth. For gargling: mix two teaspoons of turmeric, warm water, and a pinch of salt. Swish that (admittedly not-so-appetizing) mixture around for thirty seconds, gargle, and spit it out. Try, if you can, not to chase it with water; instead, let it sit in the mouth and swallow a bit of it to help soothe and heal the digestive system. You can also take turmeric in capsule form.

Note: “As is the case with so many herbs, turmeric should be used in moderation. Too much turmeric used for extended periods of time may cause stomach distress. Since turmeric is included in Ayurvedic formulas for birth control, women trying to become pregnant should limit their consumption of the herb, and it should be avoided entirely while pregnant. Excessive use of turmeric should also be avoided in people with congestive heart failure. The curcumin in turmeric activates a gene called p53. This gene deactivates damaged cells in the heart.” (Source: Mountain Rose Herbs)

Chewable Licorice (DGL—deglycyrrhizinated licorice):

DGL is a chewable form of licorice that has had the glycyrrhizin removed. What the heck does that mean? Well, basically, glycyrrhizin is the component in licorice which makes it a not-so-safe herb for those with high blood pressure or who are prone to bloating and water retention. Removing it makes the herb safe for consumption by everyone.

Chewing (and chewing is important—digestion starts in the mouth with saliva) a couple of DGL tablets when you’re feeling heartburn come on helps to decrease inflammation in the stomach, protect the stomach lining, and soothe ulcer conditions. It also helps boost enzyme production, allowing for easier and quicker digestion as well as better absorption of nutrients.


It goes without saying that chronic acid reflux is a condition that should be looked at by your physician. But whether you suffer from chronic or occasional heartburn, any of these herbs can not only provide relief, but also a platform for healing damaged tissue.

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