Lifestyle management tips for treating acid refluxPublished on Thursday, November 11, 2021 by
There are so many areas of your life where small changes make a big difference
Let’s start off by addressing anything that creates actual physical pressure inside of your body. If you are wearing tight-fitted clothing (such as pants or a belt that fits tight around your waist) they can cause reflux because your stomach is at risk of being squeezed. If you are someone who suffers from acid reflux, keeping your waist free from any binding or constricted situation will be the most comfortable for you.
Another situation that creates pressure in the body is if you are carrying some additional weight, especially around your abdomen. You are at a greater risk of acid reflux because of the increased pressure that can push stomach contents backwards into the esophagus, as well as at a greater risk of many additional health issues. Maintaining a healthy waist circumference will help to reduce this pressure and often people find some relief or even complete elimination of symptoms at a loss of 10-15 pounds if overweight or obese.
Now, the chances are you might have heard that if you have acid reflux that you should not eat 2-3 hours before lying down to nap or go to bed for the night. The reason for this is because if you are going to bed and your stomach still has food and beverage in it (which at 2 hours is pretty likely and even so at 3 hours for some) then your stomach can put pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allowing for reflux to occur.
Next we will talk about making gravity work to your favor. You understand what might happen if you lie down with a full stomach, but let’s say life happened and you said “yes” to that late-night snack or it was date night or game night and you stayed ate later than usual. Make sure to elevate your head when you are going to bed by at least 6 inches. The best way to ensure you’ll prevent acid reflux when sleeping with this method is to invest in a wedge pillow or something similar that keeps you propped up. Regular pillows are not to be trusted, as they can (or you can) often move and shift.
A few more lifestyle changes that can seriously impact positive change
- If You Smoke or Chew Tobacco, Consider Quitting. If you have acid reflux, consider quitting tobacco since the nicotine in these products relaxes the LES, which can promote the uprising of acid and other stomach contents into the esophagus (reflux/heartburn).
- Keep track of your triggers. Each person is going to have foods that impact them differently. With acid reflux, many foods can be additionally irritating because they cause pain and discomfort to the esophagus once it has already been disturbed by the reflux of stomach acid and contents. Common triggers include:
- Alcohol, Caffeine, and Chocolate- may lower LES pressure
- Carbonated Beverages- can increase abdominal pressure
- Citrus Fruits/Juices and Tomatoes/Tomato Sauces- Acidic; Possible irritant
- Peppermint and Spearmint- may lower LES pressure
- Fried and Fatty Foods- can delay gastric emptying; increase abdominal pressure
- Take a look at your medicines and speak to your medical provider about your acid reflux. Some medications can cause heartburn or even make the symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) worse.
Here are a couple products to check out (a meatless option to consider for fried food swaps and a tomato-free marinara sauce):
Allison KochPhD, RDN