“What’s better than zero heartburn? Nothing, that’s what. That’s why I take Prilosec OTC each morning for zero heartburn.”

That’s the commercial for the Prilosec OTC, a drug created to help curb the effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition more commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn.

But for the nearly 20 percent of the country’s population affected by the digestive disease, it isn’t always as simple as taking a pill.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, GERD happens when stomach acid creeps back up and touches the lining of the esophagus.

While medication like Prilosec or Nexium or TUMS do help stop symptoms of GERD, the relief isn’t always long lasting. For that, the NIDDK offers some lifestyle and nutritional tips that need to take place.

Tips to control GERD

  • Don’t overeat or eat two to three hours before going to bed.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes, and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Lose weight if needed.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes around your stomach, because tight clothes can squeeze and push stomach acid up into your esophagus.
  • Standing upright for a few hours after eating, and avoid reclining and slouching when sitting.
  • Sleep at a slight angle. Raising the head of your bed six to eight inches will help. Simply using extra pillows to prop yourself up will not.

Nutritional tips to help GERD

  • Avoid eating or drinking greasy foods, spicy foods, alcohol or anything else that can cause GERD.
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Decrease fatty food intake
  • Eating small, frequent meals instead of three large meals