Back, Again: Heartburn, Acid Reflux & GERD

Many suffer from heartburn, GERD, or acid reflux on a consistent basis. The acid and burning feelings always seem to come back, again and again. There are plenty of over the counter options that can relieve symptoms temporarily, but eliminating the problem permanently is ideal for most individuals.

What Works? #

A huge contributing factor to acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn is food. Choosing what goes in can relieve and even eliminate symptoms. So, what works?

  1. Reducing cholesterol and high saturated fat intake, while increasing whole grains has proved beneficial in those with persistent acid reflux. In overweight or obese individuals (BMI >25) a low carbohydrate diet reduced acid exposure.
  2. Avoiding spicy foods, sweets, alcohol, carbonated and caffeinated drinks is also a good idea because these can cause gastric distress.
  3. Pectin’s high viscosity can help with gastric emptying so the burning feeling doesn’t even start. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of pectin (i.e. apples and carrots).
  4. Dietary nitrate may have a role in development of GERD so avoiding processed meats with nitrates is recommended.
  5. Combating heartburn also involves eating slowly, thoroughly chewing your food, and eating small meals throughout the day.

More Things To Try #

As we said before, food is one of the biggest contributing factors to heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. In addition to updating or changing your diet you may want to consider adding the following to your lifestyle:

  • Nutrition’s partner, exercise, greatly reduces symptoms. Walking after a meal and continuous activity to help reduce and maintain weight is a great option for suffers. The upright position of walking is ideal to help the contents of the stomach move down; this is why laying down right after a meal can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Supplementation of curcumin, melatonin, l-tryptophan, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, methionine and betaine promotes regression of GERD symptoms with no significant side effects.
  • Chewing gum for 30-60 minutes after a meal reduces acid contact time and increases salivation.

 

What else might work? Old home remedies like apple cider could help due to increased salivation, creating an alkaline environment and promote digestion. Raw honey may also be beneficial because of its soothing effect for the throat and it also helps grow good bacteria in the gut. Skim milk can cause temporary relief for some because of the calcium, but can also increase acid secretion in others.

Following a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains along with adequate exercise is the best prescription. Also, grab a pack of gum on your way out the door.

If you are struggling with chronic heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, our doctors, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists can help you find the relief options that work for you, help you relieve the pain and get your life back. Call us at (480) 883-7240 to set up an appointment for a consultation today!

References:

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Avidan, B., et al., Walking and chewing reduce postprandial acid reflux. Aliment pharmacol Ther, 2001. 15(2): p. 151-5.

Dutta, S.K., K. Agrawal, and M.A. Mahmoud, Modulation of salivation and heartburn in response to the site of acid infusion in the human oesophagus. Aliment pharmacol Ther, 2010. 32(6): p. 795-800.

El-Serag, H.B., J.A. Satia, and L. Rabeneck, Dietary intake and the risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a cross sectional study in volunteers. Gut, 2005. 54(1): p. 11-7.

Havelund, T. and C. Aalykke, The efficacy of a liectin-based raft-forming anti-reflux agent in endoscopy-negative reflux disease. Scand J Gastroenterol, 1997. 32(8): p. 773-7.

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