Acid reflux is a condition wherein your stomach acid flows upwards to your esophagus and throat. The medical term for this is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and is characterized by the recurrence of reflux incidents.
A known symptom of acid reflux is heartburn which is a burning sensation in the upper thoracic area caused by acid backflow.
Additional symptoms include having a hoarse voice, bad breath, bloating, and nausea. It’s also possible for you to experience recurring hiccups or cough.
GERD is caused by the weakening or damage in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that is in place to stop the stomach contents and the acids from flowing up into your throat when you’re not upright.
Not to worry, treating acid reflux involves lifestyle and diet more than a lot of medicine or invasive procedures. Making healthier and better-informed choices make all the difference for acid reflux.
Do I Have Acid Reflux?
As mentioned above, heartburn usually feels like heat or fire in the middle of your chest. This brings a vinegary, unpleasant taste in the mouth which comes from a backflow of stomach acid. This is the known symptom of acid reflux or GERD.
Because acid reflux deals with the backflow of stomach acid, it’s common for symptoms to worsen after eating or when you’re not upright like lying down or bending over.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
As far as we know, acid reflux is caused, triggered, or worsened. However, its reoccurrence has no obvious or end-all reason.
Certain food items can trigger heartburn and acid reflux. Common triggers are coffee, alcohol, chocolate, and other fatty or spicy food.
Other causes of acid reflux being worsened could be being overweight, pregnancy, or excessive stress and anxiety. Some medicine could also worsen acid reflux.
When Should I See A Doctor?
The point at which you should see a healthcare professional is when lifestyle and diet changes are no longer working. When your heartburn is present for a majority of days in a month or more, you should consult a doctor.
Additional symptoms like getting food stuck in your throat, difficulty swallowing food, being sick, or losing weight for no reason are also signals of when you should seek medical help.
The doctor can prescribe antacids to reduce stomach acid production. These antacids could be omeprazole and lansoprazole. These will alleviate heartburn symptoms and the doctor can help you narrow down your reflux triggers.
How Can I Avoid Acid Reflux?
The best way to avoid acid reflux is to understand what causes it. It’s important to pay attention to your body. It’s helpful to keep a food diary so that you can track what you eat at what time and what you feel.
In tracking food and when you feel heartburn, you can pick out what food items cause your heartburn and what food you should shift away from.
What Triggers Acid Reflux?
High-fat food can relax the LES. Upon relaxation, the stomach acid flows back up. These also take a long time to digest and deposit in your stomach. reduce your total daily fat intake.
It might be beneficial for you to check when you eat fast food like onion rings or french fries, full-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, or even their byproducts like ice cream, sour cream, and fried food or fatty byproducts of meat including bacon, ham, and lard.
Citrus fruits and tomatoes could be good for you but are known to be acidic. Fruits like orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, pineapple, tomato, and their byproducts could cause your heartburn to get worse.
Chocolate could also aggravate GERD because it contains methylxanthine that relaxes the LES’s smooth muscles to enable reflux.
Spicy food, and certain spices like garlic or onions, can trigger reflux in most people so track to check if you’re one of them.
One of the known triggers is caffeine. However, if you have always drunk coffee make sure you cut it out of your diet slowly or take less acidic coffee to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Personal intolerance like dairy, gluten, mint, and flavoring could also contribute to aggravating your GERD.
What Should I Eat?
It may be beneficial for you to increase your intake of vegetables. Vegetables are low in fat and sugar. They help reduce stomach acid production and good options include asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Fruits are also good for you but since citrus fruits could be triggers, you can try non-citrus fruits like melons, bananas, apples, and pears as great sources of vitamins and micronutrients.
Ginger is known to reduce inflammation and actually serves as a natural treatment for gastrointestinal problems including but not limited to heartburn.
Oatmeal is not only a breakfast favorite but also an amazing source of fiber. Whole grain products and a high fiber diet put you at low risk of acid reflux.
Lean meat and seafood are low in fat and reduce the brevity of their symptoms. However, you should avoid these prepared with a lot of oil so steer away from fried food and gravitate towards grilling, broiling, baking, or poaching.
For protein, egg whites are also a good option but since the yolk is high in fat, it may be best for you to steer away from those.
For fat, it’s best to opt for healthier options like avocado, flaxseed, walnut, sesame, olive or sunflower oil. It’s beneficial for you to reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats because those deposit in your stomach for longer periods.
In general, avoid food and drink that triggers your symptoms. Avoid eating late at night or even as much as 4 hours before bed. Try and steer away from clothes that are tight around the waist and cut down on smoking and drinking.
Make better lifestyle choices by eating better and smaller meals in higher frequencies. Find ways to elevate your chest and head when lying down and try to get to a healthier weight and routine.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.