Anyone who’s had acid reflux knows the feeling all too well: that uncomfortable, burning feeling in the chest. This process, in which the stomach leaks acid into the lower esophageal sphincter, is commonly known as heartburn, a painful, prevalent experience: over 40 percent of Americans suffer from it at least once per month.1 If you’re fortunate, an over-the-counter mediation will alleviate your symptoms. If you’re not so lucky, though, you could develop gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a disease that can lead to surgery.

Preventing the development of heartburn begins with doing everything you can to decrease the likelihood of reflux. According the American Academy of Family Physicians, overeating is the number-one cause of heartburn. Four foods that make heartburn worse are:

  • Tomato products
  • Chocolates
  • Mints or peppermints
  • Fats, oils, and spices

Eating these foods slower, less often, and in smaller quantities is good starting point. But reducing and/or eliminating them from your diet does not necessarily ensure that you won’t experience acid reflux if you enjoy them, say, once or twice a week in moderation. This leads to the next step: lifestyle changes, which include:

  • Light exercise 2 hours after a meal; as opposed to lying down, this keeps the digestive system moving.
  • Smoking reduction studies have shown that esophageal acid exposure increased by over 50 percent after smoking, and that smoking results in a longer than normal time to clear the esophagus of any acid.3
  • Stress relief the National Heartburn Alliance reports that 58 percent of heartburn sufferers attribute their problems to a “hectic lifestyle.”3
  • Weight loss which is intertwined with general healthier eating.

In addition to these changes, keep in mind two pieces of information about acid reflux:

1. Experiencing heartburn symptoms 3 times per week for 2 weeks gives you reason to see your doctor.

2. Heartburn is a medical condition with biological causes, which means that sometimes all the diet and lifestyles changes in the world won’t work. It’s important to work with your doctor to help alleviate your symptoms.




2. Various studies cited by the National Heartburn Alliance,