Tricks to Help Prevent Acid Reflux

by Erica Sanderson Editor

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a condition that occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter connecting the esophagus to the stomach fails to close properly. This causes food and acid to come back up, triggering a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Try these simple ways to help prevent reflux without using medications.

Woman taking a piece of gum.

Chew gum

Chewing gum activates salivary glands to produce more saliva. Saliva neutralizes acid in the esophagus and promotes swallowing so acid goes back down into the stomach. Pick a sugar-free variety to prevent damage to tooth enamel.

Woman lying on couch listening to music.

Elevate your head

GERD is often worse at night because a horizontal position leads to more acid entering the esophagus due to gravity. Use several pillows to prop your head and shoulders. Put blocks under the head of the bed to raise it—about six inches of height is recommended.

Woman eating dinner.

Eat slowly

It can be hard when you’re starving or on-the-go, but you need to slow down. While some research suggests speed doesn’t affect reflux, others say gulping down your food means you’re not chewing properly so the body takes longer to properly digest it.

Apple cider vinegar in glass.

Drink one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Though there is no published research to support its benefit for GERD, some people swear by this natural remedy: one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) before a meal. It’s unclear what exactly does the trick, but it’s believed the acetic acid in ACV helps balance pH levels in the stomach and regulates digestion.

Small bowl of healthy food.

Eat smaller meals

Big meals put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), increasing the chance of food coming back up. Hefty servings can also cause bloating, adding even more pressure. Be smart and, instead, eat small portions throughout the day.

Man midnight snacking at refrigerator.

Avoid late-night snacking

Eat at least three hours before bedtime so your system can digest before you lay down. This helps alleviate nighttime reflux and symptoms overall.

Senior woman sleeping on left side.

Sleep on your left side

Several studies have indicated that lying on the left side at night reduces symptoms compared to the right side. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this is, but it’s worth trying.

No alcohol sign.

Know what foods NOT to eat to help stop acid reflux

Know what foods to best avoid to prevent acid reflux from happening in the first place. These potential food triggers include coffee, soda, high acidic foods (citrus fruits, for example), and spicy foods. Even alcohol might cause issues: it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter muscles, allowing acid to pass into the esophagus and stimulating stomach acid production.

Peeling a banana.

Know what foods TO eat with acid reflux

Some foods might potentially relieve symptoms of acid reflux at best — or, at worst, not cause acid reflux to occur. They include ginger, bananas, and aloe vera juice. Low-acidic, high Ph fruits can be included in your diet today to help avoid acid reflux.

Erica Sanderson
Meet Our Writer
Erica Sanderson

Erica Sanderson is a former content producer and editor for HealthCentral. Living with a chronic disorder that affects the lungs and instestine, Erica focused on covering digestive health and respiratory health. Topics included COPD, asthma, acid reflux, managing symptoms and medication.