Orange juice, grapefruit juice and tomato juice all contain high amounts of acid that can irritate the esophagus and trigger gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, according to WebMD. Alcohol, high-fat foods, chocolate and peppermint are also common irritants that cause relaxation in the sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus.
Sodas with caffeine, coffee, tea, garlic and onions are often associated with GERD and heartburn, causing the acidic contents in the stomach to reflux, or flow backwards, into the esophagus, producing burning sensations and painful irritation of the lining, states WebMD. Smoking has the same relaxant effect on the esophageal sphincter muscle.
Overweight individuals can help reduce GERD symptoms by losing weight, explains Mayo Clinic. Extra weight causes the stomach and its acids to rise up closer to the esophagus. In a similar way, tight-fitting clothing in the abdominal region changes the natural position of the stomach. Eating smaller amounts of food at each sitting and sitting upright when doing so are recommended GERD prevention methods. Putting blocks under the feet of the bed to elevate the head by at least 6 inches helps to reduce GERD attacks at night, as does refraining from eating within three hours of bedtime.