You can be anti-antacid

Katie D. Neal

Dr. Jorge Rodriguez isn’t just an expert on acid reflux — he’s also a patient. The gastroenterologist and author of “The Acid Reflux Solution: A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally” ($13.38 on Amazon.com) is one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

And like many of his patients, for years he popped over-the-counter antacids daily to ease his discomfort. But he had a nagging feeling in the back of his mind.

“Those medications serve a really great purpose, and they work, but they’re not supposed to be taken for more than two months in a row,” he says. “We need acid in the stomach to help digest food, and to change certain minerals in what we eat to iron, calcium and magnesium. There comes a time to close the medicine cabinet.”

Rodriguez began to recommend lifestyle changes to help his patients decrease acid reflux naturally. Try his tips to ease your symptoms.

Know the triggers

“One of the causes of reflux is when something opens up the lower esophageal sphincter, the gate between your esophagus and your stomach,” says Rodriguez. “Anything that’s a stimulant, like chocolate, coffee or mint, can do this, as can foods high in saturated fat or anything fried.” Surprisingly, what can’t “open the gate” are foods like tomatoes, citrus and spicy dishes.

Eat slowly and in smaller quantities.

Reflux is also enabled by a “traffic jam” in your digestive tract. Too much food in your stomach and nowhere for it to go can put pressure on your LES and cause it to open, sending acid back up.

Up your fiber intake.

If fatty foods, which tend to just sit in your stomach, are some of the worst acid reflux triggers, it makes sense that fiber — which has the opposite effect — only helps.

Get moving after meals.

It’s the same principle as eating fiber: Sitting or lying down after a meal doesn’t help move the food through your system. “The intestines are almost like those watches that you have to keep winding,” Rodriguez says. However, he cautions against heavy workouts after meals.

Ease up on liquids while eating.

You may have noticed that most of Rodriguez’s recommendations are general guidelines for healthy eating. But here’s where the advice differs slightly. Because drinking a lot of water with a meal can help fill you up quickly — something dieters often appreciate — it’s risky for reflux sufferers.