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Guidelines For Reflux, Heartburn, Acid Indigestion, Ulcers And Hernias

Reflux and heartburn is caused when the acidic contents of the stomach are pushed up into the oesophagus which causes a burning sensation at the back of the throat and mouth. These conditions are very common in pregnant women, women on contraceptives, overweight or obese people as well as smokers.

Acid indigestion and ulcers are caused when the lining of your stomach cannot cope with the acidic contents, and, as a result, sores/ulcers are formed causing pain and discomfort.


1. Avoid the following foods as they could cause or worsen the above-mentioned disease conditions:

  • Fried or oily foods such as pies and chips
  • Peppermint and spearmint
  • Citrus fruits and juices such as oranges, lemons and tomatoes
  • Spicy food such as curries or strongly flavoured food like vinegar
  • Caffeine containing beverages and foods such as coffee, tea (Herbal and rooibos teas are allowed), fizzy drinks, chocolates and chocolate containing foods
  • Full cream milk
  • Chewing gum
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholic beverages

2.Eat smaller, more frequent meals. For example, eat 5-6 smaller meals or snacks instead of 3 large meals per day;

3.Food at room temperature is better tolerated than very hot or very cold food or beverages;

4.Eat your food slowly sitting upright and do not lie down, bend over or strain directly after eating a meal. It is also better to eat 2-3hours before going to sleep. Lift the head of your bed with bricks;

5.Avoid drinking large volumes of fluids with meals. Rather drink in-between mealtimes;

6.Avoid tight fitting clothes or belts;

7.If you are overweight or obese, then try to follow healthy eating guidelines given to you by your dietician to help you to lose the weight;

8.Avoid stress and always eat in a relaxed and calm environment.

In addition to these guidelines you should also take any medication prescribed to you by your doctor. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication.

Make a record of the foods or beverages that cause discomfort and heartburn and try to avoid them. Try not to exclude healthy food unnecessarily.

Remember: Always follow a healthy balanced diet.

By Melissa Pyle, BSc. in Dietetics, Registered Dietician (SA)

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