Gastroesophageal reflux—or GERD—affects nearly 20% of Americans. It’s an uncomfortable disease in which stomach acid flows into the esophagus through a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) when the muscle is overly relaxed. While most Americans have experienced acid reflux in their lifetime, GERD involves more frequent heartburn or acid reflux as well as other symptoms characteristic of the disease.
If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD this year, then chances are your New Year’s resolutions will—and should—include GERD treatment options to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of your GERD. Below are three resolutions you can make in 2019 to help your GERD!
Resolution #1: Eat Better, Feel Better
Diet is a huge resolution for many people, and rightly so. Most of us are looking to get healthier and drop a few pounds, and switching up what you eat is a great way to accomplish this! In addition to that, though, the foods you eat directly impact how much stomach acid you produce. Some foods, called trigger foods, exacerbate GERD. Being able to identify and avoid your trigger foods will work to ease the acid reflux associated with it. A good place to start is creating a food diary and keeping track of the foods that aggravate your acid reflux.
Worst foods to eat with GERD:
- High-fat foods
- Acidic fruits such as tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes
- Chocolate, which contains an ingredient called methylxanthine that has been known to relax the LES muscle, leading to stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus
- Caffeinated foods and beverages
- Vegetables, which are naturally low in fat and sugar
- Non-acidic fruits, such as melons, bananas and pears
- Lean meats
- Egg whites
Resolution #2: Eliminate Bad Habits
In addition to avoiding dietary triggers and filling up on healthy low-fat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, there are also a number of lifestyle changes you can try in the New Year to lessen the symptoms of your GERD:
- Avoid lying down for at least two hours after a meal or after drinking overly acidic beverages—this’ll help keep stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus
- Keep your head elevated while you sleep using an extra pillow. This can alleviate acid reflux
- Eat more small meals each day rather than a few large ones
- Quit smoking. Smoking can increase the production of stomach acid and reduce proper function of the LES
- Lose weight to ease pressure on the stomach; added pressure can make acid reflux worse
Resolution #3: Make The Decision To Get Treatment For Your GERD
If diet and lifestyle changes haven’t made a difference in your GERD in 2018, it’s time to seek treatment in 2019. The qualified specialists at the Tampa Bay Reflux Center will work to tailor a treatment plan to your individual needs. Treatments we offer include prescription medications and long-term treatments and proven surgeries including Transoral Inscisionless Fundoplication, LINX Reflux Management, and Lap Nissan Fundoplication.
New Year, new you, right? You don’t have to live with the uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms of GERD anymore. 2019 is your year for change, starting with getting your life back!