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How can I prevent acid reflux?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

You can prevent acid reflux by avoiding acidic foods. In this video, otolaryngologist Jonathan Aviv, MD, a guest on The Dr. Oz Show and the clinical director of the Voice and Swallowing Center, provides guidelines for what you should eat.

These tips may help ease your acid reflux:
  • Avoid foods that trigger reflux, such as caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruit, tomato products, carbonated beverages, alcohol, mint and full-fat dairy foods.
  • Don't wear tight belts.
  • Eat small meals.
  • Cut back on salt and fat.
  • Eat more fiber, meaning more fruit, veggies, and 100% whole grains.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after meals.
  • If you're carrying extra pounds, lose at least 10% of your weight.
  • Don't exercise right after eating.
  • Don't eat and then hit the sack within three hours.
  • Sleep with your head raised by putting the head of your bed on bricks.
  • Don’t take benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) for sleep.

Dr. Lee T. Austin, MD
Gastroenterologist
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is preventable by modifying several lifestyle factors. Start by eating several small meals per day which will reduce the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (compared to eating large meals which puts pressure on the sphincter and allows acid to reflux into the esophagus). Limit the intake of acid stimulating foods, such as citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, and foods high in fat. Don't eat within 2-3 hours before bed. Lying down with a full stomach increases the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter which increases the chances of acid refluxing into the esophagus. Elevating the head of the bed also helps reduce risk of reflux as it decreases the pressure on the esophageal sphincter. If you are overweight, losing as little as 10% of your weight will likely reduce severity and or number of episodes of reflux. Wear loose fitting clothes that so the stomach isn't restricted causing more pressure on the esophageal sphincter. Also, quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Finally, keep a heartburn record so you know your triggers and what gives you relief.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

See your doctor who can prescribe medication if you have acid reflux. Medical nutrition therapy for acid reflux includes reducing high fat foods, spicy foods, alcohol as well as mint, chocolate and spearmint. Reflux is reduced by decreasing the volume of food and liquid in your stomach at one time. Drink fluids between meals, taking small sips at meals. Eat small, frequent meals. Remain elevated 2 hours after eating.

Stop it before it begins. Here are some helpful tips on preventing acid reflux.

To prevent acid reflux, consider an acid reducer, over the counter medications and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs.)

Changes in both lifestyle and diet can help prevent acid reflux. Acid reflux is made worse by smoking, being overweight and eating large or late meals. Quitting smoking and losing weight can significantly reduce your acid reflux symptoms. Certain foods such as citrus, caffeine, chocolate, tomatoes, fried foods and alcohol also make acid reflux worse.

If avoiding these types of foods is as difficult for you as is it for most Americans, there are medications and surgical options for acid reflux disease. However, you should see your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms and whether or not you need to be on a trial of medication.

Long-term use of acid suppression medication can pose significant health risks, such as an increased risk of infections, inability to absorb vital nutrients and increased risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis associated bone fracture.

If you are one of the millions who experience daily or weekly acid reflux symptoms, talk with your doctor to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. For those on long-term medication for GERD or with symptoms despite medication, ask your doctor if surgery is right for you.

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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.