Keeping Healthy – Knowing the right information

There are foods and substances that make reflux more likely. Avoiding or reducing the following may therefore reduce symptoms:

  • Smoking
  • Excess of alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Fatty foods such as pastry or fried foods
  • Chocolate

A woman eating an apple surrounded by speach bubbles containing lifestyle advce for reducing heartburn symptoms

Large meals are more likely to cause the muscle joining the oesophagus to the stomach (the lower oesophageal sphincter) to open, and therefore small and regular meals are likely to reduce symptoms. If possible, it will help if you do not eat during the last 3 hours before bedtime and do not drink within the last 2 hours before bedtime. If you experience heartburn and/or regurgitation at night, propping the head of the bed up with blocks or bricks under the bed legs often helps.

Regular exercise is strongly advised.

There are other things that can make symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) worse. These vary from person to person but common food and drinks that trigger symptoms include:

  • Spicy Foods.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato-based foods.
  • Acidic foods such as citrus fruits or onions/garlic.
  • Wine (red wine has protective effects for oesophageal cancer).
  • Spirits (particularly without mixers).
  • Peppermint.
  • Fizzy drinks.

Everyone is different and there may be other things that trigger your symptoms. Keeping a diary of symptoms as well as food and drinks taken can help to identify triggers which may then be avoided.

Remember, if you suffer from persistent heartburn, it's important to see a Doctor.