If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from acid reflux or GERD, you’ve likely received tons of advice from well-meaning friends, family and even doctors. However not all advice is for the best. We decided to highlight the worst advice we’ve ever heard about reflux and set the record straight.
- Eat larger meals. Whenever you eat a large meal, you risk overfilling your stomach, which will put more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This can also cause excess stomach acid. It is better to eat 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 larger ones. Also, if one of your meals is typically larger than the others, try to have that meal for lunch instead of dinner. This can help prevent nighttime symptoms when your body is in a horizontal position.
- Drink less. This is only true if we’re talking about alcoholic beverages, which can indeed trigger acid reflux symptoms. Alcohol actually increases stomach acid and relaxes the LES allowing the acid to rise. However, it is important to stay hydrated when you suffer from reflux. Just try to avoid guzzling large glasses of water all at once. Instead, take small sips throughout the entire day.
- Eat a bedtime snack. Some people think that having some crackers or a light snack before bed will help alleviate their reflux symptoms, however this is not the case. If your stomach is working on digesting food when you go to bed, there is a higher risk of having an episode of heartburn. Try to schedule your snacks for earlier in the day, such as between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and supper.
- Lie down and rest your stomach after eating. While it might be a good idea to let your stomach settle after eating, lying down on the couch is one of the worst things you can do. This can cause a full stomach to press harder against the LES, increasing the likelihood that reflux will occur. If you feel like resting soon after eating, be sure to stay in an upright position in a chair or recliner.
- Sleep flat. Lying down flat presses the stomach contents against the LES. When you sleep at an incline, with your head higher than your stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure, and keeps stomach contents where they belong–in the stomach. You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks or anything that’s sturdy and fits securely under the legs at the head of your bed. Or you can also try a wedge-shaped pillow to elevate just your head and not the whole bed.