Sour stomach? Eat something that didn’t agree with you? Really yearning for some Tums? These symptoms could be clues that you are suffering from acid reflux. At best, acid reflux can take the joy out of a good meal. At worst, it can deliver all the pain and panic of a heart attack. What can be done to minimize this scourge of modern life?
Acid reflux (sometimes called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) is a condition caused by a weak esophageal sphincter (that’s a tough one!). That sphincter acts as a kind of trap door, opening when food is swallowed and remaining closed otherwise. This seals off the stomach, with its churning pool of acid, from the esophagus. When the esophageal sphincter is weak or leaky, it allows stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus. This causes heart burn, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, the symptoms are like those of a heart attack, causing many a tense moment at the emergency room. If untreated, it can lead to lesions on the esophagus and even cancer of the esophagus.
There is little that you can do to strengthen a weak esophageal sphincter. If you have a leaky valve, you have a leaky valve, and you just have to live with it. Your best strategy for minimizing symptoms is to adjust your diet.
First, adjust HOW you eat. Don’t eat large meals. When you stuff yourself, acid reflux is worsened. Try to eat smaller meals more often, instead. Avoid eating before you go to bed, since acid reflux is worse when you are reclining. You can try tilting your mattress, so that your head is six inches higher than your feet. This can help quite a bit. This is also another good reason to quick smoking. Smoking further loosens the esophageal sphincter and increases stomach acid production, a double whammy. Quit now. Just quit.
Next, adjust WHAT you eat. An acid reflux diet has some “do’s” and “don’ts” to follow. There are foods that can definitely make the situation worse. Beverages containing caffeine (coffee, tea, many sodas) should be minimized. Alcohol makes acid reflux worse, too, but many of us are willing to take that downside anyway.
Try to avoid foods with a lot of acid, like citrus and tomatoes. Fatty foods are tummy torchers, too, like French fries, burgers and chips. Pretty much anything delivered by a drive through will make you pay later.
Steer your eating toward safer foods. Apples and bananas are great fruit choices. Broccoli, peas and carrots are positive members of the vegetable clan. And stick with lean meats, like chicken or fish. If you are really craving some junk food, see if you can get away with some pretzels or fat-free cookies.
There is no cure for acid reflux, but by following a sensible acid reflux diet you can minimize the symptoms and still enjoy life. Do you have any hints? Click on the Comment button and share the wealth!