Do Probiotics Help With Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, often called GERD, is one of the most common digestive issues around the world.
It affects between 10% and 20% of adults in Western countries and causes major issues like esophageal distress, upset stomach, heartburn, halitosis, erosion of the teeth, and even vomiting.
Because these symptoms are unpleasant, many people try to find natural remedies to reduce discomfort.
Do probiotics help with acid reflux?
Probiotics are a natural remedy that helps with acid reflux by targeting some of the most common causes while also reducing the severity of the symptoms.
What Are Probiotics?
A probiotic is a live microorganism that exists in some unpasteurized foods like yogurt.
These microorganisms are not harmful to the body; instead, it can help alter the natural biology of the stomach and other parts of the digestive system.
As such, many people recommend the intake of probiotics to reduce stomachaches and improve the frequency and regularity of bowel movements.
Because probiotics often target the digestive system, scientists and researchers have naturally been curious about whether or not probiotics are effective at treating acid reflux, also often called GERD.
Do Probiotics Help With Acid Reflux?
Probiotics are a flexible tool for helping people combat a broad range of digestive issues.
This is because they directly affect the stomach and other parts of the digestive system instead of just treating the symptoms.
With that said, do probiotics help with acid reflux?
Probiotics target a variety of elements and can reduce symptoms through several different mechanisms.
Here is a brief overview of the ways probiotics might be able to help you, depending on the cause of your reflux and the severity of episodes.
1. Digestive Issues
The most commonly cited benefit of probiotics is how they can rebalance the bacterial biome of the gut.
Did you know the average stomach contains a plethora of bacteria responsible for breaking down and digesting food and medicine?
These bacteria are strongly affected by diet and can be killed, overused, or ignored to the point where they reproduce out of control.
Individuals experiencing acid reflux or GERD commonly suffer from problems related to digestion because their stomach biome is unbalanced.
What Probiotics Do
Probiotics contain communities of healthy microorganisms that can reestablish a good balance of stomach bacteria.
This process is done over a prolonged period to reduce the chances of experiencing intestinal distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and excess gas.
Once a healthy biome has been reestablished, users of probiotics discovered they experienced fewer episodes of acid reflux.
The episodes they did experience were also shorter and produced fewer symptoms, including lower rates of nausea and stomach discomfort.
Probiotics and PPIs
Individuals who have acid reflux are often prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
PPIs reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach, which reduces how often someone has acid reflux episodes.
Unfortunately, reducing stomach acid can actually increase the occasions of acid reflux if the gut bacteria grow out of control.
You see, the acid in the stomach controls the rates at which natural bacteria grow.
If too much acid is removed, bacterial communities can grow out of control, making it difficult to digest food properly.
Depending on an individual’s situation, eating probiotics regularly can balance the stomach bacteria while they take their PPIs.
This results in reduced stomach acid and healthy bacterial communities that are not out of control.
2. Consistent Bowel Movements
Another common cause of acid reflux and GERD is food remaining too long in the stomach and the rest of the digestive system.
When this happens, it can create discomfort and result in the stomach acid constantly trying to digest but being unable to because an individual is constipated.
This is where probiotics can help once more.
Anyone who has seen a yogurt commercial knows that one of the main selling points of probiotic yogurt is its ability to reduce constipation and make bowel movements more regular.
Individuals who consume probiotics on a regular basis often discover they can empty their stomach on a more consistent basis, which reduces how often a person experiences reflux.
To get this benefit, it’s essential to consume probiotics through food or additives regularly.
Unfortunately, you can’t just take probiotics once and hope for consistent results.
3. Weight Loss
Almost 80% of all adults in countries like the United States are overweight or obese, and the number continues to increase.
Having a higher than healthy body weight is one of the leading causes of acid reflux because of the presence of too much adipose fat.
Excess fat around the stomach or the midsection places too much pressure on the interior organs, which pushes food up and out of its normal position.
The result is an increased number of reflux episodes where a heavier individual feels sick, develops heartburn, and struggles with acid climbing back up the esophagus.
How Do Probiotics Help?
When consumed with an appropriate amount of food, probiotics improve digestive regularity.
They can make an individual feel more satisfied and full, which reduces snacking and overconsumption.
They also make it easier to have regular bowel movements while improving the health of gut bacteria.
In turn, this makes more foods palatable and reduces bloating, which can affect digestion and exercise.
Of course, consumers of probiotics still interested in losing weight will need to have a healthy diet and practice regular exercise in addition to using natural probiotics.
However, natural probiotics go a long way to alleviating the symptoms of acid reflux by helping reconstruct a healthy stomach while reducing stomach fat.
4. Reverse the Effects of Fatty and Oily Food
Although fatty and oily food is delicious, it wreaks havoc on the natural biome of the stomach.
A diet high in these foods will alter the number of gut bacteria, making it more difficult to digest food of all types.
By consuming probiotics and reducing how much fat is consumed, it is possible to restore a natural bacterial biome and alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux.
This ties into the recreation of natural gut bacteria discussed earlier.
It targets one of the most common causes of acid reflux, which is an unhealthy diet that damages the digestive system.
5. Reducing Stress
Finally, scientific studies support the idea that the regular consumption of probiotics reduces episodes of stress and anxiety.
This is because the bacteria can alter the types of chemicals produced in the body.
It does so by creating more calming ones, like serotonin, and reducing the chemicals and hormones that trigger stress and anxiety.
Stress is associated with acid reflux and can actually trigger episodes even when someone has not eaten.
By reducing how often you feel stressed, you can lower the number of episodes and alleviate the most common symptoms of acid reflux.
How to Take Probiotics for Acid Reflux
Now that you know how probiotics can help with acid reflux, it’s essential to understand how you must take them to best combat your episodes and symptoms.
Manufacturers have produced a broad range of consumption methods, and doctors often recommend taking probiotics at different times of the day.
You need to determine which method works best for you and then stick to it to see results.
1. Types of Probiotics
First, you should consider what form of probiotics you are comfortable taking.
In the modern market, it is possible to find probiotics available as capsules, tablets, powders, yogurts, and even beads.
These are encouraged over other forms because they are simple, easy to digest, and are digested slowly and over a long period rather than all at once.
Out of these options, you want to take a probiotic that includes a colony of one of these types of bacteria: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococci.
These microorganisms are stronger and more likely to survive when exposed to stomach acid.
Lactobacillus, in particular, is often native to the stomach and might be able to become part of a preexisting colony to reduce stress and tension in the gut.
Once you find the best type of probiotics for you, you need to consider what time of day you should eat them.
2. Time of Consumption
One of the best characteristics of probiotics is the ability to take them at a variety of times without reducing the microorganisms’ effectiveness.
You can often choose a time of consumption that works best for you.
Some recommend you take the probiotic with a meal to aid in digestion and reduce the chances of the bacteria being directly targeted by stomach acid.
Others recommend a completely empty stomach.
You can choose whichever method makes you feel the most comfortable.
You can also decide whether or not you would like to take your probiotics in the morning, afternoon, or night depending on your schedule and bowel regularity.
When you are struggling with acid reflux, it can be challenging to eat healthy meals and engage in regular activities without upsetting your stomach.
One helpful natural method to overcome the pain and discomfort is to consume probiotics regularly.
These probiotics reduce the severity of symptoms and can also treat some of the most common causes.
These include the effects of PPIs, reduced gut bacteria, and the effects caused by the overconsumption of fatty and oily foods.