Acid reflux is on the rise around the world, and obesity appears to be the culprit. While there are medications available such as Xantac, these have their own issues. Xantac has been linked to lower levels of vitamin B12. B12 keeps nerve cells healthy and a deficiency of vitamin B has been linked with depression, so long-term use of anti-reflux medications does not appear to be a good idea.
Gastritis, gastroparesis, heartburn, delayed gastric emptying, gastroesophageal reflux disease… all of these terms relate to issues which often have acid reflux as a symptom.
A common cause of acid reflux is when fat accumulates around the stomach and esophagus. This prevents the valve where the esophagus joins to the stomach from closing fully, allowing stomach acids to pass up the esophagus.
Acid Reflux Versus GERD: What Is The Difference?
Acid reflux may appear relatively minor — occasional heartburn, for example. However, if left unchecked it can devolve into its dangerous big brother, GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD can lead to dry throat, trouble with swallowing, and persistent coughing. It can also lead to ulcers and esophogeal cancer.
Acid Reflux And Diet
Weight loss is the best thing you can do for acid reflux. As you burn away the fat that has accumulated around your stomach, the pressure will lift on your esophagus, allowing its valve to close fully. Diets are available that target acid reflux specifically. Ask your doctor or a nutritional therapist about what you can do. In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do right now to get ahead of acid reflux.
Burn that fat off. Even a half-hour walk each day helps. Build exercise into your life.
Getting a proper night’s sleep consistently makes you more alert, which relieves stress and helps keep you to your weight-loss schedule.
Remove bad fats and sugar from your diet
Look for whole foods, and avoid foods with a low quality fats. Avoid sodas and other sugary drinks.
Consider trying a gluten-free diet
Some people who remove gluten from their diets experience both relief from acid reflux and weight loss.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine contribute to acid reflux. Decaffeinated tea is a pleasant substitute for coffee.
Sorry, chocolate lovers, but chocolate is a well known contributor to acid reflux. Remove it from your diet, even as an occasional snack.
Plan on an early dinner
Don’t eat anything near bedtime, as this puts your stomach to work and generates acid — which has an easier time creeping up your esophagus when you’re lying down. It’s recommended that you sit upright or move around for at least three hours after you eat. So no after-lunch naps.
Try a bed wedge pillow
Sleeping with your head slightly raised can provide relief.
If you smoke, quit
You should do this anyway, but smoking exacerbates acid reflux, so you have another good reason to break this habit. Your lungs as well as your stomach will thank you.
Speak to your doctor about supplements which can help
HCL or digestive enzymes can provide relief by helping food move more quickly through your digestive system. In fact, some people’s reflux is caused by low stomach acid (and taking anti-reflux medications can actually make that worse over the long term). If you’re having issues with reflux or a persistent cough, your integrative doctor may be able to help with non-medication based supplements that can help resolve the issue instead of only treating symptoms.
Beating Acid Reflux Through Lifestyle
Reflux isn’t something you can address by temporarily dieting until it goes away, because if you regain the weight you’ve lost, reflux will return. That means the diet you choose needs to be something sustainable. Your exercise program needs to be one that you can fit into your life as part of your new lifestyle. But with these changes, this problematic condition can be beaten.