12 Easy Ways to Rid Yourself of Acid Reflux

With all the food-centered traditions surrounding the holiday season, people tend to experience more symptoms of acid reflux during that time of year. You can lessen or prevent heartburn symptoms if you learn some simple strategies and stick to them, no matter the time of year.

Healthy low fat pita dip for acid reflux
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What Causes Reflux?

Reflux occurs when stomach acid or stomach content flows backward into your esophagus. People usually describe this phenomenon as heartburn.

Heartburn is very common and actually may not be considered part of a disease. However, longstanding frequent heartburn and reflux can irritate the lining of your esophagus and cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Heartburn is generally a treatable problem. Most of the time, people can manage their symptoms with lifestyle and diet modification. Also, over-the-counter medications can help reduce symptoms.

Some people, though, need stronger treatment or even surgical procedures to overcome chronic heartburn.

Although reflux is considered a treatable disease, inappropriate treatment can cause serious complications in the long-term. If you experience symptoms of acid reflux, consult with a doctor first to get an accurate diagnosis and receive effective treatment. 

To gear your lifestyle toward preventing reflux, use "The Rule of Fours": four key points to follow during the day, during meals, and after your meal.

Four Things to Do Throughout the Day

  1. Stay active: Try to stick to an exercise routine. Although it may be tough to fit in the time for working out, it is definitely worth it. Weight loss mitigates reflux symptoms.
  2. Do not smoke: An underlying cause of reflux is weakness of the muscles in the stomach and esophagus. Nicotine can cause this weakness. Try to avoid secondhand smoke at parties and other events if possible.
  3. Do not eat late at night: This may be difficult if you're a night owl or go to social gatherings that run late, but try to avoid heavy foods after dinner and instead choose small, light snacks.
  4. Limit your alcohol intake: Whether it’s wine with dinner or a beer after work, any alcohol can worsen reflux.

Four Things to Do While Eating

  1. Avoid fatty foods: Foods such as chips, dips, cheeses, and deep fried foods slow down your stomach emptying time. This allows for more acid and stomach contents to flow back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
  2. Hydrate with water: Substitute water for soda and avoid citrus fruits and juices like grapefruit, orange, and tomato. These types of drinks cause excess acid in your stomach.
  3. Season lightly: Spicy foods, as well as things like onions and garlic, often bother people with GERD and make heartburn worse.
  4. Use smaller plates: Eating large meals can trigger symptoms, so try eating smaller meals throughout the day.

Four Things to Do After Eating

  1. Limit coffee and desserts: Chocolate and caffeine might be a favorite, but they often trigger symptoms.
  2. Slow down: Physical exertion after a meal can lead to reflux.
  3. Skip the after-dinner mint: Peppermint is another heartburn irritant.
  4. Stay awake: Eating delicious food might make you sleepy, but fight the urge to take a nap. Lying down within three hours after eating can cause acid reflux symptoms to flare up.

With these small changes, you can help your heartburn even if you suffer from GERD. Just remember The Rule of Fours and you will reduce or maybe even eliminate your acid reflux.

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Article Sources
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  1. Cleveland Clinic. GERD (chronic acid reflux). Updated December 6, 2019.

  2. Ness-Jensen E, Hveem K, El-serag H, Lagergren J. Lifestyle intervention in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14(2):175-82.e1-3. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2015.04.176

Additional Reading
  • Jacques AS, The week of Thanksgiving is also Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week. MDLinx. 2015.