5 Dietary and Lifestyle Precautions to Prevent Heartburn


Dr. Lagergren’s team found that tobacco can prolong the time it takes for acidic foods to leave the esophagus. In an analysis of 30 studies, GERD affected about 20 percent of smokers compared to about 16 percent of nonsmokers.

Those who did at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day were less likely to develop GERD symptoms, the Harvard team reported.

Those who consumed no more than two cups of coffee, tea, or soda each day had a reduced risk of GERD.

For example, those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet that included fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains but little or no red meat and other sources of saturated fat were less likely to develop acid reflux.

Genetics can also affect a person’s risk of developing acid reflux, so people with a family history of the problem will do their best to avoid the risks highlighted above. Doing so will also help protect against leading killers like heart disease, diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

If you have acid reflux, there is a lot you can do to minimize symptoms and perhaps avoid them altogether. Instead of consuming large meals, eat smaller meals more often. Minimize fatty foods and skip fried and fast foods altogether. A friend of mine uses a deep fryer to get a crispy skin on chicken, but I prefer grilled chicken and skip the skin. Choose lean meats (if you eat meat) and low-fat or fat-free dairy products and avoid eating within three hours of bedtime. Also, try lying down with the head of the bed higher than your feet.

Foods that many with GERD find most bothersome include tomatoes and citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruit) and fruit juices, coffee (even decaffeinated for some people), alcoholic and sodas, spicy foods, garlic, chocolate, and mint. I switched to low-acid orange juice a long time ago and consumed just a few ounces a day to work out a fiber supplement. I also found that instant coffee was less irritating than brewing, and I only drank the latter with food to help protect my digestive system.


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