Wednesday, July 11, 2018

GERD: How Lifestyle Plays a Role

If you’ve ever suffered from heartburn, then you most likely have a condition known as GERD. GERD (also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), is a condition that occurs when acid refluxes back up into the esophagus. Almost a quarter of the Canadian population suffers from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and experiences heartburn on a daily basis. 

The number one cause of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is lifestyle; from the food you eat, the beverages you drink, to other lifestyle factors. Common foods that cause heartburn include citrus fruit, garlic, raw onions, chocolate, tomato sauce, mints, fatty foods, spicy foods; condiments such as vinegar, mustard, and ketchup; drinks such as coffee, tea, pop, and fruit juice. Many of these foods are known to relax the esophageal sphincter which then triggers the stomach to produce more acid. If you are a smoker, overweight, don’t get enough sleep, or find yourself is stressed and/or anxious on a regular basis, you are also at risk of developing GERD.

As mentioned heartburn is a classic symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, as well as one of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder. Heartburn is usually described as a burning sensation near the breastbone and it often occurs after eating. If you bend or lie down the sensation can worsen. In addition, you may also experience regurgitation. Depending how long you have heartburn and how severe your symptoms are, this could cause Long term injury to the esophagus. Similar to heartburn, patients may also experience something known as dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is generally characterized as a burning sensation or discomfort in the upper abdomen, and it may also cause gastric pain, burping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Chest pain can also occur as a result of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder, and is often mistaken for a heart attack given how intense the pain can be. Acid that travels all the way up to the esophagus can actually irritate the lining of the esophagus which may also cause the voice to become horse. Sometimes it will sound like you have a sore throat or are getting cold. Additionally, it is not uncommon to develop sore throat due to GERD, as well as sore or blocked ears. Another classic symptoms of GERD is that you can develop a bitter or sour taste in the month. This is due to stomach acid pricing to the back of the throat. Patients with an GERD may also develop a cough as well as wheezing. This occurs when stomach acid backsplashes into the lungs. If left untreated this could become a trigger for asthma. GERD that goes untreated for a prolonged period of time can result in swelling of the lower esophageal tissue, which may result in the esophagus to become narrow, and could result in difficulty breathing.

Because lifestyle play such a significant role in the diagnosis and symptoms associated with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease it is important that you make certain changes to reduce the symptoms of GERD as well as to prevent you from developing GERD in the future.

Dr. Ali Ghahary has already told you which foods can contribute to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Now, you are going to learn about which foods are best for reducing heartburn or avoiding heartburn altogether. For breakfast, oatmeal is one of the best things you can eat. Not only is it healthy, but it also helps to absorb acid. It’s also filling and does not leave you feeling hungry. Ginger is another great food to use if you have acid reflux. For decades it has been used as an anti-inflammatory, as well as to help many other gastrointestinal-related conditions. You can add ginger tea, smoothies, as well as many of your recipes. There’s also nothing healthier than the salad. Is eaten on its own, salad will not aggravate symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. However, as many salads come with tomatoes, onions, and dressings that are high in fat, you will want to avoid these, as these may actually worsen your symptoms. Fruits such as honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon are also said to be good for those suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and reducing its symptoms. However, a small percentage of people say that these fruits actually contribute to their symptoms and therefore they must avoid them. Skinless protein, such as chicken and turkey, are also great for reducing symptoms of acid reflux, not to mention have many other health benefits. Chicken and turkey can be grilled, baked broiled, or sautéed. Similarly, fish and seafood are also great options.

For more information on foods that fight acid reflux, click here.

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