7 Tricks to Help Prevent Acid Reflux

Erica Sanderson | Apr 24th 2015 Apr 10th 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Apple cider vinegar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.