GERD or Acid Reflux?
‘Tis the season to have special dinners with family and friends, but sometimes we can overeat and experience gastric discomfort. Having acid reflux or heartburn occasionally isn’t unusual, but some people suffer from burning discomfort, bloating and belching almost every time they eat. About 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic acid reflux condition. Normally, the esophageal sphincter (a muscular tube that lets food pass into the stomach and then cinches shut to block it from coming back up) protects the esophagus from stomach acid. What happens with GERD? If the sphincter relaxes, food can push upward through the loosened opening and cause acid reflux. Basically, the stomach contents move up into the esophagus. Reflux can become a disease when it causes frequent or severe symptoms or injury. Why is diagnosis important? Because GERD can damage the esophagus, pharynx, or respiratory tract.
GERD & Acid Reflux Trigger Foods
“Trigger” foods can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and delay the digestive process. The worst culprits:
- Fried food, fast food or pizza
- Potato chips or processed snacks
- Chili powder and pepper
- Fatty meats and cheese
Other foods that can cause problems:
- Tomato sauces
- Citrus fruits
- Chocolate and peppermint
- Carbonated beverages
Moderation is key but avoid eating problem foods late in the evening, closer to bedtime. Instead, eat small frequent meals and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks.
Some foods help prevent acid reflux:
- High-fiber foods – oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, asparagus
- Alkaline foods – bananas, melons, cauliflower, nuts,
- Watery foods – celery, lettuce, watermelon, herbal tea
Heartburn Home Remedies
Antacids can neutralize stomach acid, but certain foods may also offer relief:
- Milk – nonfat variety or low-fat yogurt with probiotics
- Ginger – such as ginger tea
- Apple cider vinegar – a small amount in warm water with meals
- Lemon water – a small amount in warm water with honey
Your Healthcare Provider Can Help
If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult your healthcare provider about possible GERD or acid reflux. Contact the Bronston Community Care Clinic at 608.781.2225 to make an appointment.
Learn more at hopkinsmedicine.org