Lifestyle Changes that Can Help Reduce Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, affects one out of every five people in the United States. While there are several prescription medications to manage symptoms, the best way to reduce GERD is to make smart lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to learn about some of the most important changes to make that will help to keep GERD symptoms at bay.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Excess weight is one of the top risk factors of GERD. Being overweight or obese causes an excess amount of visceral fat in the abdominal area. This fat secretes inflammatory hormones that increase the risk of GERD complications.
Those with excess belly fat also increases:
- Stomach capacity
- Pressure within the stomach
- Risk of esophageal function issues
All of these conditions further increase the risk of GERD. Losing weight and reaching a normal BMI can greatly minimize the side effects of acid reflux.
Eat a Healthy Diet
There are many foods, known as heartburn triggers, that exacerbate GERD symptoms. They cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, which delays digestion. In turn, food sits in the stomach longer, which increases the risk of GERD complications.
of the worst culprits include:
- Fast food/fried food
- Processed snacks (ie. potato chips)
- Fatty meats like bacon and sausage
- Pepper and chili powder
Other foods, such as citrus fruits and tomato-based sauces can also cause acid reflux.
What are improvements you can make? Eat balanced, wholesome meals. Eating more fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, whole grains, and legumes not only minimize GERD symptoms, but will improve your overall well-being.
Smoking worsens GERD symptoms. The habit is also a top cause of acid reflux.
Nicotine from tobacco products relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter. This allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
Quitting smoking not only greatly minimizes symptoms, but it also greatly improves your overall health.
Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day
Staying physically active makes it easier to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also keeps the digestive tract working as it should. The less time food sits in your stomach, the better.
Be mindful of eating before a workout, as eating the wrong foods can trigger acid reflux. You will also want to ease into daily exercise as recommended by general doctors and gastroenterologists. High-impact exercises may make GERD symptoms work.
Low-impact exercise like walking, yoga, swimming, light jogging, or using a stationary bike are all great options.
Drink Less Caffeine
Coffee, tea, and soda all have one thing in common: caffeine. Research has found that caffeine may be a possible trigger for acid reflux, heartburn, and other GERD symptoms.
When caffeine is consumed in high amounts, it can irritate the esophagus while also weakening the lower esophageal sphincter. Carbonated beverages can also cause the same side effects.
As a rule of thumb, drink no more than two cups of coffee, tea, and soda daily. Instead, drink more water and low-calorie drinks that keep you hydrated.
GERD Treatment is Available
Aside from making lifestyle changes, it’s also important to consult with a gastroenterologist to get the GERD treatment that you need. At the Beverly Hills Center for Digestive Health, we use state-of-the-art technology to provide quality gastroenterology care.
If you are affected by GERD, our team is here to provide the care you need. Contact our office today at (310) 855-0222 to schedule an appointment.