Acid reflux is a common condition that features a burning pain, known as heartburn, in the lower chest area. It happens when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is diagnosed when acid reflux occurs more than twice a week (M.Mac Gill 2017).

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors are dietary style, obesity, smoking (active or passive), low levels of physical exercise medications and pregnancy can also cause acid reflux due to extra pressure being placed on the internal organs (M.Mac Gill 2017).

Do you know? Some foods are known to trigger acid reflux. Below is a list of some foods and how they affect the digestive tract (ASGE 2014) :

  • Coffee (with or without caffeine) and caffeinated beverages relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Citrus fruits and juices such as orange, grapefruit, and pineapple have high acid content.
  • Tomatoes and processed tomato-based products such as tomato juice, and pasta and pizza sauces are highly acidic.
  • Carbonated beverages (fizzy drinks) cause gaseous distension of the stomach (bloating) which increases pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter causing acid reflux.
  • Chocolate contains a chemical called methylxanthine from the cocoa tree, which is similar to caffeine. It relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes acid reflux.
  • Peppermint, garlic, and onions relax the lower esophageal sphincter causing acid reflux.
  • Fatty, spicy or fried foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter as well as delay stomach emptying and therefore cause acid reflux.

How I can get rid of acid reflux?

You need DIETARY CHANGE. Cut out a few foods and beverages that either relax the lower part of the oesophagus or increase the amount of acid in the stomach as discussed above. By keeping a food diary, you can identify your trigger foods and change your diet to reduce discomfort (Jay W. Marks 2004).

In addition to dietary changes, other tips to help are (J.Heidelbaugh et al. 2003; Nilsson et al. 2004) :

  • Avoid eating and then bending over, lying down, reclining or going to sleep for two to four hours after eating
  • Take small meals instead of large meals, if you are still hungry simply eat more often.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches, this can be done by placing the head of the bed on blocks 6-8 inches high or by sleeping on a wedge.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Avoid fast food, since it is usually very high in fat.
  • Avoid large meals.
  • Avoid medications that may potentiate GERD symptoms, including calcium channel blockers, beta agonists, alpha-adrenergic agonists, theophylline, nitrates, and some sedatives.
  • Stop smoking.


  • ASGE, 2014. Diet and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease ( GERD ). American Society for Gastrointestinal Endooscopy. Available at: www.asge.org.
  • J.Heidelbaugh, J. et al., 2003. Management of Gastroesophageal. American family physician, 68(7). Available at: www.aafp.org/afp.
  • Jay W. Marks, M., 2004. GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn). medicine.net. Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm#gerd_acid_reflux_facts.
  • M.Mac Gill, 2017. What is acid reflux? University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146619.php.
  • Nilsson, M. et al., 2004. Lifestyle related risk factors in the aetiology of gastro- oesophageal reflux. , pp.1730–1735.