10 Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Acid Reflux

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via Healthy Eating for Busy People - Dietriffic.com by Melanie on 9/18/08


Acid reflux is a common problem for many people, with over-the-counter antacids being a quick and ease option to rid the problem. However, in most cases, making a few simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference.

Here are a few easy suggestions:

#1 Eat small, frequent meals rather than three large meals each day. Eating too much at mealtimes causes excess stomach acid to be produced, which in turn causes acid reflux.

#2 Avoid your triggers. Some food and drink are thought to relax the sphincter and allow more acid to reflux. However, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2006) indicated that the type of foods we eat has little effect on acid reflux, however if you notice a particular food is causing symptoms, try avoiding it for a few days to see if your symptoms improve.

Possible triggers include:

  • Fatty foods
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot drinks
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Coffee
  • Alcoholic beverages 

#3 Maintain an upright position at least 45 minutes after eating your meals. Gravity helps to keep the stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus.

#4 Don’t eat late at night, have your main meal at least three hours before bedtime, and don’t drink in the last two hours before bedtime.

#5 Give up smoking. The chemicals from cigarettes relax the sphincter muscle, making acid reflux more likely. If you’re a smoker, symptoms may ease by stopping smoking, and you’ll reap the other health benefits to boot!

#6 Reduce your weight. Being overweight puts extra pressure on the stomach, encouraging acid reflux. Therefore, if you are overweight, losing a few pounds may help to ease your symptoms.

#7 Mind your posture. If you lye down or bend forward considerably during the day it could also be encouraging acid reflux. Other problems include sitting hunched over, and wearing tight belts, potentially making reflux worse.

#8 Bedside manner!If you’re hungry at bedtime eat a small dry snack such as crackers, and try elevating your head by 10-20 cms in bed - this will help gravity to keep acid from refluxing into the oesophagus.

#9 Take care with medications.They may irritate the oesophagus, or relax the sphincter muscle, making acid reflux more likely. Potential triggers include, anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen or aspirin), diazepam, theophylline, nitrates, and calcium channel blockers. Discuss the issue with your doctor if you suspect your medication to be causing symptoms.

#10 Try keeping a reflux record. You may want to keep a record of your symptoms, the severity of each episode, any notable triggers, and what gave you relief. Keep a record for about one week, and then take it to your doctor for advice and possible treatment.

If lifestyle changes haven’t made a considerable difference to your symptoms, you may need prescription drugs. There are a number of effective preparations available (Antacids, Acid reduction drugs, Prokinetic agents, Mucosal protective agents) and your doctor can help you choose the right one for your individual needs.

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