One of the most important lifestyle modifications that you may want to consider is losing weight. Excess weight places pressure on the stomach, allowing stomach acid to escape into your esophagus. Even modest reductions in weight can have dramatic benefits. Portion control combined with modest exercise will help you lose weight, however, before starting any weight loss program, speak to your doctor.
Wearing tight or constricting clothing also raises the risk of an acid reflux episode. Wearing loose-fitting clothing will make you feel more comfortable during mealtime, and will help prevent heartburn after you eat.
Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol also help reduce the incidence of heartburn episodes. Limiting your intake of fatty and spicy foods also helps ensure that your heartburn attacks will be kept to a minimum. Chewing sugarless gum may also suppress the production of excess stomach acid, reducing your symptoms of heartburn. Although chewing sugarless gum may help relieve your symptoms by increasing the flow of saliva, it is important to note that the artificial sweeteners in the gum may cause gastrointestinal distress such as bloating, excess gas, and diarrhea, if consumed in excessive amounts.
Herbal teas such as chamomile, parsley, ginger, cardamom and slippery elm, have soothing effects on your gastrointestinal system, and may significantly relieve your episodes of heartburn.
Chewing on a few fennel seeds may also bring relief. Some people even find relief from heartburn from drinking sauerkraut or dill pickle juice. Similarly, drinking 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider \inegar may also provide dramatic relief from acid reflux and heartburn. Dissolving l teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water also helps neutralize stomach acid, which will decrease your symptoms as well.
Vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin B12 may also have profound effects on your symptoms. Taking excessive amounts of vitamin C, however, may worsen your symptoms, so talk to your doctor to determine the correct dosage. Taking activated charcoal supplements has also been shown to have beneficial effects on heartburn, but as with all alternative remedies, talk to your doctor before taking them.
Eating lighter meals, walking after dinner and drinking plenty of water may also help relieve heartburn. Water helps dilute irritating stomach acids so that if they do travel to your esophagus, they will not be so caustic. Even though mild exercise has shown to be effective in the management of mild to moderate heartburn, strenuous exercise may exacerbate your symptoms. To prevent nighttime heartburn, sleep with the head of your bed elevated so that the backflow of stomach acid is prevented. Although you can use a few pillows to prop you up when you sleep, using blocks to raise the head of your bed up is a better choice. Sleeping propped up may also help prevent the aspiration of acid into your lungs. When stomach acid is aspirated into to the lungs, bacteria can develop and cause an infection. If you develop a respiratory infection as a result of stomach acid respiration, your doctor may recommend a course of oral antibiotics to resolve it. Avoiding heavy meals three hours before bedtime will also help you avoid nighttime heartburn.
Keeping a food diary also helps you determine which foods are triggers for your heartburn episodes. Write down everything you eat, even including breath mints. Small breath mints are powerful heartburn inducers, and if you find that they trigger an attack, switch to another flavor such as fruit flavored. Also, document foods high in sugar, tomato-based products and fatty foods, because these foods are commonly implicated in the development of heartburn. Don’t forget to document the spices you use too. Red and black pepper flakes, as well as salt, can contribute to acid reflux, as can onion and garlic powder, oregano and poultry’ seasoning. Red wine vinegar, butter and cheese may also increase the production of stomach acid.
Managing stress is another important lifestyle modification that can help manage acid reflux. Stress and anxiety triggers acid production, so talking to your doctor about ways to manage your stress will help mitigate your symptoms. Alternative remedies such as acupuncture, reflexology, acupressure, chiropractic treatment, massage and Shiatsu are also helpful in the management of stress and anxiety. In addition, meditation, aromatherapy and yoga may also help lower your stress levels. Furthermore, joining a stress management support group allows for the exchange of positive experiences between attendees, lowering your levels of stress even more. Although severe cases of stress and anxiety may be best managed with anti-anxiety medications, they can contribute to the over-production of stomach acid and a further weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.
Yogurt may also play an important role in the treatment of your acid reflux. Eating yogurt when you first feel an episode of acid reflux coming on may help keep it at bay. In fact, incorporating yogurt into your mealplans on an everyday basis may even help prevent heartburn episodes from starting in the first place. Yogurt is an excellent choice for those who are intolerant to antacids or over-the-counter acid blocking medications, or for those who are pregnant.