Heartburn. Reflux. GERD. You have probably heard these terms before and don’t even know what they mean. Could you be suffering from one of these, or are they just a part of everyday life? If so, there’s hope. There are many solutions to these common conditions, as well as other symptoms that affect millions of people. This article will outline the symptoms and treatments to help those with these problems.

What do you do when your partner’s heartburn is keeping you awake at night? Do you reach for antacid pills or antacids? Do you opt for a prescription drug or natural remedies? You may find the answer in this article.

Heartburn, reflux, and GERD (GERD stands for gastro-esophageal reflux disease, which is a condition in which acid from the stomach flows up the esophagus, causing heartburn and other stomach symptoms) are among the most common and debilitating forms of heartburn. GERD can cause serious complications, such as Barrett’s esophagus, which is a condition in which the esophagus becomes damaged and replaced by abnormal, often cancerous tissue, and a nodule growth on the esophagus.

In the United States, what are the most popular prescription medications? Statins as a treatment for heart disease? Painkillers? Antidepressants?

None of the above, in fact. Nexium, an acid reflux medication, is the most used prescription medicine in the United States.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be doing that.

The most common digestive illness is acid reflux, often known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Heartburn and reflux will affect almost everyone at some time in their life. We’ll provide you ten ideas to help you feel better in this post.

What is the difference between reflux and GERD?

Reflux occurs when stomach acid seeps into the esophagus in the incorrect direction.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • indigestion (a searing, sour, hot sensation in the chest or throat after eating)
  • regurgitation
  • nausea
  • swallowing problems

When stomach contents find their way back into the esophagus at least once a week, or when a person has additional symptoms of reflux on a weekly basis, reflux is formally labeled as “GERD.”

Almost half of North Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month, and 10-20% have GERD.

What causes reflux in the first place?

Food goes down the esophagus, past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into your stomach when you swallow it.

The LES is a little circular muscle that opens and shuts like a sea anemone, about 3-7 cm in length. Its duty is to keep track of what goes into the stomach and keep the contents from coming back out.

The tone of the LES, like any other muscle, may change. Acid splashback is prevented by the LES closing firmly, but if the LES is loose, acid may ascend from the stomach into the esophagus.

That’s a case of reflux.

Physical activity, food, sleep, your body’s location in space, pressure differences between the stomach and chest cavities, and normal diurnal cycles may all influence the LES’ tension and capacity to keep the stomach opening shut.

Of course, the LES’s role as a gatekeeper is crucial.

Our stomachs contain strong acids that help us break down food and absorb nutrients while also protecting us from dangerous bacteria.

gerd-reflux-stomach-diagram

When the gatekeeping system fails

The stomach is designed to hold acids, while the esophagus is not. The mucous membranes that line this portion of our bodies can only withstand so much exposure.

Too much acid in the stomach for too long may lead to ulcers, laceration, and even a narrowing of the entrance.

The more reflux, the greater damage to the esophagus. This may eventually lead to chronic inflammation.

Chronic esophageal inflammation causes more than just a painful stomach and a burning throat. It may create a variety of issues in our bodies, some of which are unexpected.

This kind of inflammation, for example, may exacerbate pulmonary illnesses.

Acids that migrate towards the teeth may also cause tooth erosion.

Symptoms of GERD

GERD Signs and Symptoms

Source: Yuksel ES & Vaezi MF. Extraesophageal manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease: cough, asthma, laryngitis, chest pain. Swiss Med Wkly 2012;142:w13544.

Barrett’s esophagitis is another complication of reflux.

Barrett’s esophagitis develops when precancerous cells in the lower esophagus replace normal cells. It’s more prevalent when reflux/GERD has caused recurrent tissue damage.

Surprisingly, not all reflux symptoms are visible.

While some people experience burning and acidity at the back of their throats, others may not. Nonetheless, they are at the same risk as individuals who have more visible reflux.

This disease is referred to as “silent reflux” by doctors. pH monitoring, endoscopic examinations, and other techniques may be used to identify it.

Various methods for detecting silent reflux

Detecting silent reflux may be done in a number of ways.

Source: Yuksel ES & Vaezi MF. New developments in extraesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY) 2012;8:590-599.

Reflux occurs all throughout the globe.

In North America, reflux is very frequent. It’s also becoming increasingly widespread throughout the globe.

Reflux, for example, was formerly unheard of in China. However, the prevalence of reflux and GERD has risen in recent years.

According to experts, the following factors have all had a role in China’s rising incidence of reflux and GERD:

  • less hours of sleep
  • more fat on the body
  • diets with a higher calorie and fat content
  • increased consumption of animal products (especially items that have been processed)
  • tea that is powerful
  • even more booze
  • more cigarette smoking

In Europe and South America, similar patterns may be seen. (India, for example, seems to have a lower incidence.)

Reflux may occur at any time in one’s life.

Infants suffer from a lot of reflux. While the LES develops, up to 85% of babies have reflux, but breastfed infants may experience it less often.

By the age of one year, the majority of infants have outgrown their reflux. If reflux continues, it’s most likely related to a neurological or anatomical problem.

Because of the increased abdominal pressure, many adult women have reflux during pregnancy.

As a result, it should come as no surprise to discover that GERD is linked to obesity. Extra abdominal fat not only puts strain on the LES by creating pressure in the abdominal cavity, but it also seems to relax the LES.

Our LES loosens as we become older. Because we lose neurons in our esophagus as we age, we have increased GERD.

Sleep

GI problems, such as reflux and GERD, seem to be linked to a lack of sleep in people of all ages.

In addition, GI problems seem to be linked to a lack of sleep. But which comes first, the chicken or the egg? No one appears to have any idea.

Drugs

Some medicines, such as blood pressure medications (alpha blockers, calcium channel blockers, and nitrate vasodilators), may worsen GERD by changing LES tone and gastric emptying.

Anxiety, sadness, various gastrointestinal issues (including anticholinergics), and Parkinson’s disease medications may all have comparable side effects.

See Common medicines that may damage your – or your customers’ – fitness development for additional information on how pharmaceuticals affect the body. 

How to Reduce Your Reflux Risk

What can you do to reduce the dangers of reflux? Reflux may be more than just an inconvenience; what can you do to reduce the risks?

Diet

It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise cause of GERD. Much of the dietary study on reflux is correlational, meaning it looks for trends rather than reasons.

Diets rich in whole grains, potatoes, and fruits, on the other hand, seem to benefit, perhaps because these foods include more fiber and less fat.

Fat may wreak havoc on GERD patients in a variety of ways.

  • When dietary fat reaches the small intestine, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes. The greatest reaction seems to be elicited by medium and long chain fatty acids.
  • Dietary fat causes a delay in gastric emptying, which means food and acids stay in the stomach longer. Gastric emptying is delayed, which raises stomach pressure, which may lead to reflux. People who have reflux may already be susceptible to delayed stomach emptying. More dietary fat, in their opinion, would exacerbate the problem.

That clarifies the significance of fat. What about fiber, though?

Unfortunately, we have no idea. While higher fiber diets seem to reliably improve GERD symptoms over time, we still don’t know how.

Other factors that seem to aggravate GERD include:

  • coffee
  • a lot of food
  • mint
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • processed foods

Nicotine weakens the LES, and carbonated beverages increase stomach pressure.

According to qualitative research, individuals who suffer from acid reflux are more likely to:

  • eat sporadic meals
  • quick-service restaurants
  • foods that have been roasted
  • meals that are very hot or extremely cold
  • dishes that are very hot
  • foods with a high fat content

So, where do we go from here?

You’ve got it right if you’ve worked out that a whole foods diet high in fiber and low in fat, alcohol, coffee, and other irritants is your greatest protection.

How to Deal with Acid Reflux

What if you still have reflux or GERD despite your best efforts?

Check for dietary intolerances first.

Eliminating trigger foods has been shown in studies to help reduce the risk of GERD.

Many individuals who have a grain or dairy intolerance, as well as those who have a sugar or starch intolerance, say that removing these items, as well as processed sugars and starches, makes them feel better.

Second, consider what causes LES laxity. A few pointers:

  • Slowly eat till you’re just satisfied, not full.
  • Make mealtimes as relaxing as possible. GERD is worse by stress.
  • After eating, don’t lay down for at least half an hour to an hour.
  • Try raising the head of your bed a few inches if you experience GERD at night when laying down.

Use medicines with caution.

Alginates and antacids are two medications that may be used to manage reflux.

Minerals like calcium and magnesium, which neutralize acidity, are included in these goods. Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Tums, Mylanta, and other similar products are examples.

However, these over-the-counter medications should be used with care. When they’re overused, they may cause:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • allergies to certain foods
  • stones in the kidneys
  • nutrition absorption problems
  • toxicity

Furthermore, the symptoms of GERD may be mistaken for those of a heart attack. As a result, using antacids without first determining the actual reason of your issue may be very hazardous.

Proton pump inhibitors (like Nexium and Prevacid) and H2 receptor antagonists (such Tagament, Pepcid, and Zantac) are often given to alleviate the symptoms.

Proton pump inhibitors, on the other hand, do not work for around 40% of individuals. This may be due to dosage mistakes, incorrect diagnosis, drug non-adherence, or genotype-related changes in the capacity to metabolize particular medicines.

Even the most successful reflux medicines have potentially fatal adverse effects, such as:

  • higher infection risk
  • diarrhea
  • Iron and vitamin B12 deficiency
  • a higher chance of fractures

This is especially true in the case of long-term usage.

So, if at all possible, try to prevent the issue in the first place.

Summary

There’s still a lot we don’t know about reflux and GERD. But, for the time being, here are some suggestions.

(What’s more, guess what? Several of those suggestions are behaviors that we teach men and women in our PN Coaching program.)

  • Slowly eat till you’re just satisfied, not full.

  • Chew your meal thoroughly.

  • Consume a lot of whole plant meals; at least five servings of fresh veggies per day are recommended.

  • Reduce your intake of processed foods.

  • After you’ve eaten, don’t lay down.

  • Carbonated drinks should be avoided.

  • Keep a healthy weight (or work on it, with our help).

  • Take note of the meals that serve as triggers.

  • Please don’t smoke.

  • Limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks per day at most.

  • Medicate cautiously and prudently. Any medicines or supplements you’re taking should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist. Some may aggravate reflux, whereas GERD-specific treatments may have negative side effects.

healthy-lifestyle

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

SJ Bhatia, et al. The Indian Society of Gastroenterology Task Force published a study on the epidemiology and symptom profile of gastroesophageal reflux in the Indian population. 30:118-127 in Indian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2011.

Diet, lifestyle, and gender in gastroesophageal reflux illness. Dig Dis Sci 2008;53:2027-2032. Dore MP, et al.

Canadian Consensus Conference on the Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Adults – Update 2004. Armstrong D, et al. 2005;19:15-35 in Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology.

GL Austin et al. A extremely low-carbohydrate diet reduces the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Dig Dis Sci, 51, 1307-1312, 2006.

Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in celiac disease patients and the effects of a gluten-free diet, Nachman F, et al. 214-219 in Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2011.

FB Thomas et al. Gastroenterology 1980;79:1262-1266. Inhibitory effect of coffee on lower esophageal sphincter pressure.

Gastric distension: a mechanism for postprandial gastroesophageal reflux, Holloway RH, et al. Gastroenterology, vol. 89, no. 7, pp. 779-784, 1985.

Incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease among Uygur and Han Chinese adults in Urumqi, Niu CY, et al. 7333-7340 in World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2012.

Dietary consumption and the risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a cross-sectional study in volunteers, El-Serag HB, et al. 54:11-17 in Gut, 2005.

Body weight, lifestyle, eating habits, and gastroesophageal reflux illness. Festi D, et al. 15:1690-1701 in World Gastroenterol, 2009.

Burns DL & Shah NL. 100 questions & answers. GERD. 2007. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Yuksel ES & Vaezi MF. Extraesophageal manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease: cough, asthma, laryngitis, chest pain. Swiss Med Wkly 2012;142:w13544.

Yuksel ES & Vaezi MF. New developments in extraesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY) 2012;8:590-599.

Feinle-Bisset C & Azpiroz F. Dietary lipids and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Am J Gastroenterol 2013;108:737-747.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Lancet 2013;381:1933-1942. Bredenoord AJ, et al. P. Wu et al. A case-control study of dietary consumption and the incidence of reflux esophagitis. Gastroenterology Research and Practice 2013;691026.

The importance of diet in the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease, Lukic M, et al. Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma are two diseases that affect the esophagus. Antropol Coll 2010;34:905-909.

Pharmaceutical Sales in the United States in 2012, according to Drugs.com

Milind R & Attwood SE. Natural history of Barrett’s esophagus. World J Gastroenterol 2012;18:3483-3491.

Changes, functional problems, and illnesses in the older gastrointestinal tract. Grassi M, et al. 659-668 in Nutr Hosp, 2011.

TM Sakae, et al. A comprehensive study and meta-analysis of COPD exacerbations with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. J Bras Pneumol, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 259-271, 2013.

S Veldhuyzen van Zanten and colleagues A comprehensive evaluation of patient satisfaction with gastroesophageal reflux disease treatment. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 196-204, 2012.

Dental erosion in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease, Picos A, et al. Adv Clin Exp Med, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 303-307.

Liu XL & Wong KKY. Gastroesophageal reflux disease in children. Hong Kong Med J 2012;18:421-428.

Hegar B & Vandenplas Y. Gastroesophageal reflux: natural evolution, diagnostic approach and treatment. The Turkish Journal of Pediatrics 2013;55:1-7.

JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Filho, JP Moraes-Fil

Sleep disruption and emotional state are linked to gastroesophageal reflux illness in Korea, according to Kim JY and colleagues. 344-354 in J Neurogastroenterol Motil.

Gastroenterology Research and Practice 2013;760750. Kulkarno GV, et al. Gastroesophageal reflux disease.

MA Kwiatek, et al. In symptomatic GERD patients, an alginate-antacid formulation (Gaviscon Double Action Liquid) may remove or displace the postprandial “acid picket.” 2011;34:59-66 in Aliment Pharmacol Ther.

Better eating, moving, and living.

The realm of health and fitness may be perplexing at times. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

 

It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods that are specific to you.

 

Heartburn, reflux, and GERD: 10 nutrition and lifestyle tips for feeling better now | Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of digestive issues. If you suffer from heartburn, you may feel like you are being stabbed in the chest with a knife or stabbed in the neck with a fork, or you may feel burning or a pulsating pain in the upper chest and neck. Heartburn is often referred to as “acid indigestion.” The symptoms of heartburn can vary – they can be in the throat, chest, and shoulder area – and they can be very uncomfortable.. Read more about lax lower esophageal sphincter treatment and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Gerd be cured with lifestyle changes?

No, Gerd cannot be cured with lifestyle changes. It is a chronic condition that can only be managed through medication and diet.

What should I eat when acid reflux is acting up?

If you are experiencing acid reflux, the best thing to do is to avoid eating anything that could cause a spike in your heart rate. This includes spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods.

How do you get rid of heartburn and acid reflux permanently?

There are a few ways to get rid of heartburn and acid reflux permanently. The first is to stop eating foods that cause the symptoms, such as spicy foods or acidic fruits. Another way is to take medication like Prilosec or Nexium.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • acid reflux
  • gerd symptoms
  • acid reflux causes
  • gerd causes
  • gerd diet plan
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