Acid reflux is a serious condition that can cause numerous lethal diseases.
That’s probably the reason that many doctors jump to immediately prescribing medications. Unfortunately, these medications have proven to be more dangerous than the acid reflux itself.
So, we welcome a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
These researchers identify five simple lifestyle changes you can make to drastically reduce or even eliminate acid reflux.
The five lifestyle factors they identified were normal weight, no smoking, moderate-to-vigorous daily physical exercise for at least 30 minutes, no more than two daily cups of coffee, tea, or soda, and a prudent diet.
If you think about it, with the exception of the 30 minutes of daily exercise, these guidelines are not too difficult to follow. For example, they don’t tell you to follow a Mediterranean or a DASH diet, just any carefully thought-through sensible diet. You are even allowed two cups of coffee or soda per day.
They obtained their data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a large nation-wide study that asked its participants to return detailed health and lifestyle questionnaires twice a year from 1989 onwards.
For this study, the researchers used data from 42,955 women aged 42–62. From 2005 to 2017, their questionnaires included questions about acid reflux and heartburn.
Those women who followed all five of these lifestyle guidelines managed to reduce their acid reflux symptoms by 37%. Some of them managed to reduce it by almost half.
To ensure that acid reflux medications did not interfere with their results, they separately examined the data for women on these medications, establishing that these lifestyle factors worked in their cases too, by approximately the same amount.
Therefore, whether or not you are on some unhealthy medication, these lifestyle factors work to reduce symptoms.
One of the most effective of these lifestyle factors was physical exercise, which the scientists speculated probably worked by promoting movement in the digestive tract that, in turn, cleared away the excess stomach acid.
Another factor was normal weight. Obesity puts pressure on your stomach that then compromises the functioning of the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus, where the acid then escapes.
Therefore, if you want to reduce your acid reflux by 37%, follow these guidelines. Stop smoking, keep your body weight normal, exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, eat a sensible diet, and drink only two cups of coffee, tea, or soda per day.