In this article we explore acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people.
While medications and lifestyle changes are often used to manage acid reflux, some people turn to natural remedies, such as chicken broth, to soothe the symptoms.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits and risks of using chicken broth for acid reflux and some little known benefits about this ancient remedy.
Understanding Acid Reflux
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a common condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach, including acid, flow back up into the esophagus. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach, doesn't close properly. The acidic stomach contents can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus, leading to symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation.
It is estimated that around 20% of the population in the United States experiences acid reflux symptoms at least once a week, with around 7% experiencing symptoms daily.
Common Symptoms and Triggers
The symptoms of acid reflux can vary from person to person but often include:
- Heartburn: a burning sensation in the chest that may extend up to the throat
- Regurgitation: a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, often accompanied by the sensation of food coming back up
- Difficulty swallowing: a feeling of food being stuck in the throat or chest
- Chest pain: a sharp or burning pain in the chest that may be mistaken for a heart attack
While these symptoms can be uncomfortable and disruptive, they are generally not life-threatening. However, if you experience severe or persistent symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out more serious conditions.
Some common triggers of acid reflux include:
- Fatty or fried foods: these can slow down digestion and increase the amount of acid produced in the stomach
- Spicy foods: these can irritate the lining of the esophagus and increase acid production
- Citrus fruits and juices: these are acidic and can irritate the esophagus when you are inflammaed.
- Caffeine: this can irritate the esophagus in some people.
- Alcohol: this can irritate the lining of the esophagus which is often already irritated by yeast.
In addition to these common triggers, other factors that can contribute to acid reflux include being overweight or obese, smoking, pregnancy, and certain medications.
If you experience acid reflux symptoms, it is important to take steps to manage your condition. This may include making dietary changes, avoiding trigger foods, losing weight, quitting smoking, taking herbs and taking medication as prescribed by your doctor.
The Role of Diet in Managing Acid Reflux
Foods to Avoid
One way to manage acid reflux is by avoiding foods and drinks that can trigger symptoms. Some common foods to avoid include:
- Fried or fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods and drinks (e.g., tomatoes, citrus fruits, coffee)
Foods to Include
Other foods may help to alleviate symptoms of acid reflux. Some foods to include in your diet include:
- High-fiber foods (e.g., whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
- Lean proteins (e.g., chicken, fish, turkey)
- Supplements like PyloPurge
- Non-mint herbal teas
Chicken Broth: A Closer Look
Nutritional Profile of Chicken Broth
Chicken broth is made by simmering chicken bones, meat, and vegetables in water for an extended period of time. This results in a flavourful liquid that is low in calories and fat but high in protein and other trace minerals and nutrients.
How Chicken Broth is Made
There are two main ways to make chicken broth: using a slow cooker or on the stovetop. To make it in a slow cooker, place chicken bones, meat, and vegetables in the cooker and add enough water to cover everything. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. To make it on the stovetop, place everything in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours.
Benefits of Chicken Broth for Acid Reflux
Soothing Effects on the Digestive System
Chicken broth may help to soothe the digestive system and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. The warm liquid can help to relax the LES, which can prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. Additionally, the amino acids in chicken broth may help to repair the lining of the digestive tract.
Chicken broth is naturally low in fat, which can make it a good option for people with acid reflux. High-fat foods are a common trigger for acid reflux symptoms, so incorporating low-fat foods like chicken broth into your diet can help to alleviate symptoms.
Potential Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Some research suggests that chicken broth may have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the digestive system. Chronic inflammation in the digestive tract is linked to a variety of digestive disorders, including acid reflux. By reducing inflammation, chicken broth may help to alleviate symptoms of acid reflux.
Potential Risks and Considerations
High Sodium Content
One potential drawback of using chicken broth for acid reflux is its high sodium content. While sodium is an important mineral that the body needs, consuming too much without the balancing potassium can increase blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. If you have high blood pressure or other health concerns related to sodium intake, speak with your doctor before using chicken broth as a remedy for acid reflux.
Possible Allergens and Sensitivities
While chicken broth is generally well-tolerated, some people may have allergies or sensitivities to chicken or other ingredients used in the broth. If you experience any adverse reactions after consuming chicken broth, stop using it and speak with your doctor.
Commercial vs. Homemade Chicken Broth
When using chicken broth for acid reflux, it's important to consider whether you want to use commercial or homemade broth. Commercial broths may contain additives like preservatives and flavor enhancers. If you have concerns about these additives, making your own chicken broth is a good option. Keep in mind that homemade broth may have a different flavor and nutrient profile than commercial broths.
Chicken broth may be a helpful remedy for acid reflux, thanks to its low-fat content, potential anti-inflammatory properties, and soothing effect on the digestive system. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks, particularly related to sodium content and allergens. If you're considering using chicken broth for acid reflux, be sure to speak with your doctor to determine if it's a safe and appropriate option for you.