11 Lifestyle Modifications for Reflux

The holidays bring forth festive gatherings, good food and drink, and for many of us… acid reflux! If your go to reflux treatment is an acid blocking medication, think twice this holiday season.


Acid blocking drugs decrease or completely block acid production in the stomach to prevent reflux from occurring. Although these drugs may alleviate symptoms, they can transform the stomach from an inhospitable site for invading bacteria into a friendly alkaline environment where bacteria can gain a foothold and multiply. By changing the pH of the stomach, these drugs don’t just contribute to bacterial overgrowth; they can also decrease the absorption of important nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Last but not least, they may render your digestive enzymes less effective, which adds to your bloat.


Lifestyle modifications are the most effective way to improve reflux while still promoting a healthy microbiome. This holiday season, and beyond, try these lifestyle adjustments to treat your reflux symptoms:


1). Eat five to seven small meals daily to avoid overfilling your stomach

2). Exercise daily, and move after eating. Take a quick walk around to get your stomach moving (for those who experience delayed emptying of the stomach, waiting up to 3 hours after eating before exercising may be beneficial to give your stomach time to empty)

3). Adopt a gluten free diet

4). Eat before sunset – your stomach literally sleeps when the sun sets. Finish eating four hours before bedtime or lying down.

5). Enjoy your largest meal at breakfast and your smallest meal at dinner

6). Chew your food well

7). Limit and split high-fiber foods throughout the day to avoid getting too full

8). Avoid foods and substances that contribute to reflux. Avoid fatty foods, fried foods, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, carbonated beverages, and nicotine – they can slow down the emptying of your stomach, and/or cause the valve between your esophagus and stomach to open inappropriately, leading to reflux symptoms. Be mindful of chewing gum, spicy foods, citrus, mint, onions, garlic, alcohol, and even decaffeinated teas, as these choices can exacerbate symptoms for some

9). Stay hydrated. Drink between meals instead of with meals, take frequent, small sips so you don’t get too full

10). Wear clothes that are not tight around your waist and abdomen

11). Try a peppermint oil supplement to relieve symptoms


By: Dr. Robynne Chutkan