Acid Reflux & Fasting: 5 Ways To Get Rid Of Reflux Now

Whether you are fasting for religious reasons, weight loss, or to improve your overall health, acid reflux can be an unfortunate side effect. There are easy ways you can minimize your acid reflux symptoms on an intermittent fasting diet. Here are five top tips if you’re prone to acid reflux.

This article takes a common-sense approach to prevent acid reflux while intermittent fasting.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux disease occurs when gastric acid comes out of your stomach and back up into your food pipe or esophagus and gives you a burning sensation in your chest.

Reflux often happens because of pressure on your stomach from:

  • overeating
  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • hiatal hernia
  • something tight around your midsection like clothing or a belt

Another reason for acid reflux is the loosening of your lower esophageal sphincter muscle. This muscle is a one-way valve located at the top part of the stomach where it joins your esophagus.

In normal circumstances, your lower esophageal sphincter shouldn’t let stomach acid and food to reflux back up into your esophagus.

The loosening of your lower esophageal sphincter is often caused by:

  • spicy foods
  • fried or fatty foods
  • chocolate
  • peppermint
  • tea and coffee
  • alcohol
  • smoking

Medications for certain conditions can also weaken your lower esophageal sphincter:

  • asthma
  • high blood pressure
  • anti-depressants
  • allergies
  • pain killers

Your acid reflux symptoms may include:

  • sore throat
  • bitter taste in your mouth
  • chest pain or heartburn
  • difficulty swallowing
  • feeling like you have a lump at the back of your throat
  • hoarse voice
  • gas problems

Medical professionals usually diagnose chronic acid reflux that occurs on a regular basis more than twice a week as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

In the long term, untreated GERD can cause serious problems such as Barret’s esophagus or esophageal cancer in rare cases.

acid reflux statistics

What is fasting?

Fasting is when you don’t eat for a certain period of time on a regular basis. This might be for religious reasons such as the Yom Kippur holiday or Ramadan fasting, or for weight loss.

People usually fast for at least 12 hours, up to 2 days. The length of fast that is best for you depends on your preference and how your body reacts to intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting and acid reflux

Why do I get acid reflux when fasting?

During the practice of fasting, you may experience acid reflux. When fasting, the balance of acid changes in your stomach, leading to acid reflux. The same thing can happen if you skip meals.

Gastric acid levels increase when you have an empty stomach because your body still produces acid even if you don’t eat. This can cause epigastric pain (stomach pain), heartburn (chest pain), and acid reflux. If you experience stomach pain when you wake up, this is the likely reason.

The science of fasting and acid reflux

There has been no significant research to prove whether the practice of fasting increases or decreases acid reflux symptoms. Studies that have been conducted are small, and there is no consistency in results, duration of fasts, and overall length of study (1, 2, 3, 4). This makes it impossible to draw conclusions.

What is known is that the results of intermittent fasting: weight loss, reduction in inflammation, and lower blood sugar levels have a direct benefit on acid reflux and GERD symptoms.

Health benefits of intermittent fasting

The main benefits of intermittent fasting that can help reduce gastroesophageal reflux disease and symptoms of GERD are weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and regeneration of cells.

Weight loss

Weight loss can reduce pressure on your stomach, leading to fewer acid reflux symptoms.

Studies have shown intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss. However, studies have been small and short in duration. More research needs to be done to determine whether intermittent fasting can keep excess weight off long term (5).

Some nutritionists think intermittent fasting is a good way to lose weight quickly, but it is ineffective for long term weight loss if permanent lifestyle changes are not made and old eating habits are resumed.

After about 8 hours of fasting, your body starts to use glucose, stored in your liver and muscles, for energy. After your glucose stores have been used, your body begins to burn fat. And this can lead to weight loss.

Lower blood sugar levels

Intermittent fasting reduces blood sugar levels which can help your digestive system process food at a normal rate (6).

High blood sugar levels are associated with reduced muscular contractions in your digestive system. This means food takes longer to be digested, too much acid is produced, and your lower esophageal sphincter muscle loosens. This leads to regurgitation of the acid in your stomach (7).

Reduce inflammation and regenerate cells

Fasting has been shown to reduce intestinal inflammation, increase beneficial gut bacteria, and regenerate intestinal stem cells (8). This helps promote normal digestive system functions. And if your digestive system is working correctly, you’ll experience fewer acid reflux symptoms.

Other benefits

  • increased levels of endorphins which can improve mental well-being
  • regeneration of immune cells, the majority of which are located in your gut (9)
  • detoxification because toxins are stored in fat cells
  • lower blood pressure

Five ways to stop acid reflux when fasting

1. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a significant risk when fasting. Drinking water helps you dilute gastric acid in your stomach.

Unless you are fasting for religious reasons and cannot drink, it is advisable to sip water frequently while fasting. It’s a good idea to drink water in small sips rather than gulp down a full glass of water. This will prevent your stomach from secreting too much acid.

Warm water can help settle your stomach. You may also like to try alkaline water as it neutralizes stomach acid.

Instead of water, you may like to try other very low-calorie non-carbonated drinks. Some herbal teas are particularly good at treating acid reflux:

  • chamomile tea – neutralizes stomach acid, soothes the lining of your esophagus, and reduces inflammation.
  • slippery elm tea – coats your esophagus and protects it from acidity
  • ginger tea – has anti-inflammatory properties and can help prevent acid reflux

Even if you’re not fasting but tend to skip meals when busy, sipping water or herbal tea can help use up excess gastric acid in your stomach.

During Ramadan, Muslims are advised to drink plenty of water before fasting.

Do not drink beverages containing artificial sweeteners as they are very acidic and will worsen your acid reflux.

LEARN MORE: 3 Simple Herbal Teas For Heartburn That Will Bring Relief

2. Eat healthy foods

Major causes of acid reflux and GERD are eating the wrong foods and overeating. Before you begin intermittent fasting, plan what you are going to eat. An easy way to do this is to follow healthy eating recommendations such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or you can try an alkaline diet or Mediterranean diet. Portion control is also essential.

Eating high-fiber foods is usually the best way to alleviate acid reflux symptoms (10). Eating a diet high in fiber will put less pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, which means you’ll experience less acid reflux.

Low fiber foods slow down your digestive system and delay gastric emptying, contributing to your GERD symptoms.

Foods with a high water content such as melons and salad vegetables will improve your hydration levels and dilute gastric acid.

Eating low alkaline foods can help neutralize your stomach acidity and minimize reflux.

While fasting, avoid food that trigger your acid reflux.

Depending on the severity of your acid reflux symptoms, a change in diet may worsen your problems before they start getting better. This will be your body’s reaction to a change in diet and eating patterns.

Medical professionals are concerned that intermittent fasting may trigger binge eating. You must pay attention to how much you eat. Small meals are much better for controlling acid reflux than large meals. When you overeat, you put too much pressure on your stomach, which loosens your lower esophageal sphincter, and reflux occurs.

LEARN MORE: Acid Reflux Foods To Avoid: Best Substitutes For Fast Results

3. Be realistic

Fasting periods can be as short as 12 hours or last for a couple of days. Be realistic about the length of your fast and consider how long you can go without food.

After about 8 hours of fasting, your body will start using glucose stored in your liver and muscles and then will start using fat for energy. So even shorter fasting periods can be beneficial.

To set yourself up for success, an easy way could be to start intermittent fasting for a shorter time frame. For example, you could try fasting for 12 hours from 7 pm to 7 am. Because you’ll be asleep for a big chunk of your fast, there is less time that you have to distract yourself from eating.

After your body gets used to fasting, you should find that your cravings go away.

4. Right frame of mind

Intermittent fasting can be mentally challenging. To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to be in the right frame of mind before you begin.

  • Don’t start intermittent fasting if you are under stress, as this can increase acid reflux symptoms.
  • Be prepared. Have healthy meals and beverage options ready before you begin.
  • Think about how you’re going to respond to social pressures to eat.

You may experience physical pain for a few days when you start intermittent fasting due to food withdrawals. Also, your acid reflux symptoms may worsen before they get better. This is a reaction to a change in eating habits. This doesn’t happen for everyone, but you should be prepared. If you are worried, seek medical advice.

5. Seek medical advice before you start

Intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. Seek medical advice before beginning a lengthy fast.

If you have any of the following conditions, you should not try intermittent fasting:

  • type 1 diabetes
  • recovering from surgery
  • people under 18 years of age
  • underweight
  • pregnant
  • eating disorder
acid reflux fasting

Other ways to reduce acid reflux

Fasting is not the only way to lose weight and control your acid reflux symptoms. If fasting is not for you, try the following natural treatment options for acid reflux relief:

If natural remedies don’t work for you, you may need to consider other treatment options. Just remember that medication will mask your acid reflux symptoms, not treat the cause of the problem in the first place.

It’s a good idea to start with over-the-counter medications such as antacids. These will neutralize gastric acid, so you don’t get a burning sensation while refluxing.

You may also need to consider H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. Both will reduce harmful acid build up, allowing your sore throat to heal. However, there can be serious problems associated with proton pump inhibitors. Even though they are available over the counter as well as via prescription, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice in case there are better alternatives for you.

The last word on acid reflux and fasting

Intermittent fasting can help reduce your acid reflux symptoms through weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and reduced inflammation. For maximum benefit, eat healthy foods that help minimize stomach acidity, such as low alkaline foods and high-fiber foods. It’s also essential for you to stay hydrated and take small sips of water throughout the day to neutralize gastric acid.