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How can I help prevent heartburn?

Patricia Raymond, MD
Gastroenterology
Eat early and light, stop smoking, lose weight, and walk after dinner to promote gastric emptying. You can also avoid coffee (decaffeinated or not), tea, alcohol, chocolate, mints, and a whole slew of the finer things in life found on the standard anti-reflux diet.
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

You can help prevent heartburn by:

  • Losing weight. Although normal weight individuals get heartburn, obesity increases the risk.
  • Avoiding the foods that cause heartburn. Common culprits include spicy foods, fatty foods, highly acidic foods like tomatoes and orange juice, onions, mint, chocolate and alcohol.
  • Eating smaller meals.
  • Having dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed. A full belly at bedtime is a recipe for heartburn disaster. 
  • Wearing loose fitting clothing. Clothes that fit too tightly around the waist can put pressure on the abdomen increasing the likelihood of heartburn.
  • Not smoking.

While this is not a comprehensive list, it represents some of the key things you can do to prevent heartburn.

Here are some tips on how you can help prevent heartburn:
  • Stay away from foods and drinks that give you heartburn. Here are some common examples: drinks with alcohol or caffeine, soda pop or other fizzy drinks, chocolate and mint, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato sauces, spicy or fatty foods, and full-fat milk or cheese.
  • Eat smaller meals more often. This way, stomach acid is less likely to back up. Just make sure you don't eat too much in a day.
  • Don't lie down, bend over, or exercise right after you eat. Wait 2 hours.
  • Raise the head of your bed about 6 inches. You can do this by putting bricks or books under the legs at the head of the bed.
  • If you need to, lose weight and stop smoking. Heavy people and smokers have more heartburn.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially when taking medicine.
  • Don't wear clothes that squeeze your stomach.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.