If you’re bothered by heartburn or occasional acid reflux, it’s far more effective and safe to make some lifestyle changes than to rely on medications—some of which don’t even work! Start with this to-do list from Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you’re overweight, shed some of your excess poundage.
- Avoid spicy, fatty, or fried foods, along with garlic, onions, citrus fruits, and any other foods that seem to trigger heartburn, such as tomato-based products.
- Avoid caffeine and chocolate.
- Avoid carbonated drinks and citrus juices.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol to no more than two ounces a day.
- Eat small meals.
- Eat more fiber.
- Consume nonfat or low-fat yogurt or cultured buttermilk throughout the day, every day, and always at bedtime.
- Chew sugar-free gum after meals. It increases peristalsis, the symmetrical contraction and relaxation of stomach muscles, and helps move acid through the gut.
- Don’t wear tight belts or clothing that’s tight around the waist.
- Don’t bend over or exercise immediately after eating.
- Eat at least three hours before your bedtime, and eat even earlier if you can.
- Elevate the head of your bed.
If these suggested changes seem too overwhelming, you may want to focus on the two interventions that studies show to be most effective: losing some weight and raising the head of your bed. If you still need relief, use one of the newer over-the-counter H2 blockers such as Zantac for relief—but only on an occasional basis and in a dose of no more than 75 milligrams a day.