Treating Acid Reflux Disease With Diet and Lifestyle Changes

 Need I say more?

Recipe for heartburn!

Do you often experience the pain of heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease? Most patients despise yet another medication to treat reflux.  You might take comfort in knowing that making diet changes as well as other lifestyle changes may be all you need to do. Here’s how. (the above links to WebMD can be trusted)

What Kind of Diet Changes Can Help Acid Reflux?

One thing you can do to reduce your risk for heartburn and acid reflux disease is to eat low-fat, high-protein meals. Also, eat smaller meals more frequently; eat until you’re no longer hungry–avoid eating until you feel full.  You will always eat less if you eat slower; your mother was correct! 

Mother is usually right!

It may also help to avoid certain beverages and foods.

Avoid beverages that seem to trigger heartburn or make it worse, such as:

  • Coffee or tea (both regular and decaffeinated)
  • Other beverages that contain caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol

Avoid foods that seem to trigger your heartburn or make it worse, such as:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons
  • Tomatoes and products that contain tomatoes, such as tomato sauce and salsa
  • Chocolate
  • Mint or peppermint
  • Fatty or spicy foods, such as chili or curry
  • Onions and garlic

What Other Lifestyle Changes Can Treat Acid Reflux?

In addition to acid reflux diet changes, see which of the following lifestyle changes you can make.

  • Quit smoking . Smoking may increase your risk for heartburn and acid reflux disease in many ways. For example, it may increase the amount of acid secreted by your stomach and interfere with the function of muscles that help keep acid down.
  • Reduce reflux while sleeping.These steps will help reduce reflux when you sleep:
    • Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 to 6 inches. This helps keep your stomach’s contents down. However, it doesn’t work to simply use lots of extra pillows because this position may increase pressure on your abdomen.
    • Stop eating at least two or three hours before lying down.
    • Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
  • Lessen the pressure.Often, extra pressure around your abdomen increases acid reflux. Try these steps:
    • Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts.
    • If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.  Here again, WebMD has some great tips to get started.

Can Medication Help Heartburn?

Over-the-counter medications can help neutralize stomach acid. Be careful at this point.  Antacids and ranitidine (called Zantac™) are very weak–I would recommend starting with Prilosec™ or omeprazole. Use 20mg morning and evening until symptoms are well-controlled.  Antacids may give quick, short-term relief for many people, but it doesn’t take care of the “root” of the problem, that is oversecretion of acid from the stomach.  If you find you need to keep taking OTC meds  for more than two weeks, see your doctor or other health care provider.

Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease. These are examples of medications that may trigger acid reflux:

  • Aspirin or NSAIDs, such as Motrin
  • Some muscle relaxants
  • Certain blood pressure drugs

Want more information on GERD or heartburn?  Look no further–AAAAI!

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