Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Unlike acid reflux, bile reflux seems less related to lifestyle factors. But many people experience both acid reflux and bile reflux, so your symptoms may be eased by lifestyle changes:

  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases the production of stomach acid and dries up saliva, which helps protect the esophagus.
  • Eat smaller meals. Eating smaller, more-frequent meals reduces pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, helping to prevent the valve from opening at the wrong time.
  • Stay upright after eating. After a meal, waiting two to three hours before lying down allows time for your stomach to empty.
  • Limit fatty foods. High-fat meals relax the lower esophageal sphincter and slow the rate at which food leaves your stomach.
  • Avoid problem foods and beverages. Foods that increase the production of stomach acid and may relax the lower esophageal sphincter include caffeinated and carbonated drinks, chocolate, citrus foods and juices, vinegar-based dressings, onions, tomato-based foods, spicy foods and mint.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and irritates the esophagus.
  • Lose excess weight. Heartburn and acid reflux are more likely to occur when excess weight puts added pressure on your stomach.
  • Raise your bed. Sleeping with your upper body raised four to six inches may help prevent reflux symptoms. Raising your bed with blocks or sleeping on a foam wedge is more effective than is using extra pillows.
  • Relax. When you're under stress, digestion slows, possibly worsening reflux symptoms. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga, may help.
Mar. 14, 2012