Eat Right, Ease Heartburn
Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are the most common treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In the most severe cases, surgery may even be required. But regardless of how bad your GERD symptoms are, successfully fighting heartburn and acid reflux also requires some changes in lifestyle, ranging from the food you eat to the clothes you wear.
If you stick to them every day, these seven habits may help minimize GERD symptoms.
Small, frequent meals
Meals are often a trigger for GERD symptoms. In fact, all-you-can-eat buffets are almost always a recipe for heartburn.
A very full stomach can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus (known as the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) to relax, pushing stomach acids back up into the esophagus.
Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Don’t make that last meal too late, though: Eating close to bedtime can trigger GERD symptoms as well.)
Cut the cake
Be it chocolate or caffeine, certain foods and drinks are notorious for exacerbating GERD symptoms.
The list includes spicy foods, fatty red meat, French fries (and other fried foods), citrus fruit, raw onion, tomatoes, butter, oil, peppermint, chocolate, and caffeine.
You don’t have to doom yourself to a diet of bananas and boiled chicken, however. Visit our slideshow on heartburn-easing foods for some delicious GERD-friendly recipes.
Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol is a bad idea for most people with GERD, especially if you drink too much, or on a regular basis.
Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which lets stomach acid creep into the esophagus.
A 1999 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that the percentage of people reporting reflux symptoms increased with the number of drinks consumed weekly. Those who quaffed more than seven drinks per week were the most likely to have heartburn.