Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

If you haven’t already there are a number of lifestyle changes you should implement to help lessen your symptoms:

The first couple of items need to be removed because they can relax your LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) the muscle that is supposed to keep food from backing up out of your stomach and into your esophagus.

  1. Stop smoking.
  2. Eliminate caffeine (from all sources, including chocolate, decaf, etc.). [see Tips for cutting caffeine]
  3. Eliminate alcohol.
  4. Eliminate mint in all forms (including from your toothpaste).
  5. Cut high fat/fried foods and added oil.

These items can put pressure on your LES from below:

  1. Again, cut the fat. Fat takes longer to digest and clear out of your stomach.
  2. Lose weight.
  3. Wear loose fitting clothes (especially around the waist).
  4. Eat more frequent smaller meals (4-6 per day).
  5. Eat more slowly to avoid over filling your stomach (hint, try putting your fork down between each bite).

These are possible triggers, if you have silent reflux you’ll need to eliminate them all but if you have symptoms that you can tie to certain foods then you just need to eliminate those foods. You’ll note that a number of these were already eliminated above but bear repeating:

  1. Black pepper (bell peppers are much less common a trigger)
  2. Onions (especially raw)
  3. Garlic (especially raw)
  4. Acid foods (coffee (see #2), tomato, citrus fruit, wine (see #3), etc)
  5. Spicy foods (hot peppers, mustard, etc)
  6. Carbonation
  7. High fat dairy
  8. Fried foods (see #5)
  9. High fat foods, including desserts, added oil, processed meats, etc. (see #5, #6)
  10. Chocolate (see #2)
  11. Certain medications, muscle relaxants and most pain relievers (check with your doctor)
  12. Stress

To lower the amount of acid in your stomach when you sleep:

  1. Stop eating three hours before lying down.

And these will help lessen the damage by allowing the acid that is refluxed to drain more quickly:

  1. Sleep on your left side
  2. Raise the head of your bed 6-9 inches (using blocks, not a wedge pillow)*

* I tried a wedge pillow and found it hurt my back. A quick web search found a number of other people with the same complaint.

Some additional thoughts on food triggers:

  • Decaffeinated beverages still contain some caffeine so they have to be eliminated as well.

  • Low fat meats include skinless chicken/turkey breast, fish, and lean beef (extra lean cuts [95% fat free] include: eye round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak, and top sirloin steak. Lean cuts [90% fat free] include: brisket, round top roast and steak, round steak, sirloin tip center, chuck shoulder pot roast, top loin (strip) steak, flank steak, T-Bone, and tenderloin roast).

  • You should limit your fat content to 25%-35% of the daily recommended calories (2000). This works out to 500-700 calories (55-77 grams). [Note, this is the government’s average, your caloric needs will vary.]