How do I stop acid reflux?

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Suffering from acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn, is very common in Australia. It affects about 10% of the population, in real numbers thats over 2 million people. [1] Reflux is a condition related to a weaken sphincter muscle that connects the oesophagus to the stomach. Due to the weakening it allows stomach acid to move into the oesophagus causing the reflux symptom.

This problem is seen more in someone who is over weight or obese because there’s too much abdominal pressure from body fat that impacts the sphincter. In saying that people who maintain a normal body weight can also suffer from reflux simply due to genetics or from a medical condition what weakens the sphincter.

Most of the information floating around the Internet about curing reflux with certain diets is wrong. While there are specific foods we say to avoid like: coffee, spices, chilli, alcohol, high fat or sugar foods, there aren’t any proven foods to relieve reflux.

The reason why these foods should be avoided is because they aggravate the already existing acid reflux. Acidic foods like citrus fruit, coffee or caffeinated drinks and spices further irritate and inflamed lower oesophagus.

Some times people find starchy food like; dried crackers, rice and potato helps to relieve symptoms, but this hasn’t been proven and not everyone feels this relief. I’ve had some clients who get reflux from just drinking water or not eating anything at all.

You’ve probably read about neutralising alkaline foods, unfortunately this is bogus. Our body naturally regulates PH in different areas of the body. You can read more about the alkaline diet in this review where I debunk the major claims. Food isn’t going to alkaline stomach acids. If it did we wouldn’t be able to break down the food for digestion.

People with acid reflux are recommended to eat a normal healthy diet with fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean meats, eat smaller meals, maintain a healthy body weight and not recline or go to bed 1-2hours after eating.

Reclining after eating simply puts more pressure on the sphincter, gravity causes the muscle to open up and allow the stomach acids to travel back up the oesophagus. It might be a better idea to eat dinner early and go for a walk afterwards or do some house work.

If you do suffer from heart burn often, go and see your local doctor. Having acid in the oesophagus can cause problems over the lifetime. For example it can cause ulceration and eventually oesophageal cancer if you damage the muscle tissue in your oesophagus too much. There are medications that can be prescribed to reduce the amount of acid your stomach creates, some of the common names are Pariet and Nexium, there are of course others too. Consult your doctor to see what can be done for you.

If you want to reduce your symptoms of reflux follow these tips:

  • Lose weight if you’re holding on to excess body fat
  • Eat small meals
  • Limit the trigger foods mentioned above
  • Do not recline after eating
  • If its occurring frequently see your doctor.

 

Do you suffer from acid reflux, how do you manage your symptoms?

[1] Knox SA, Harrison CM, Britt HC, Henderson JV 2008. Estimating prevalence of common chronic morbidities in Australia. Med J Aust 189(2):66–70.

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