GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid flows up out of the stomach and into the esophagus, causing symptoms generally described as heartburn. More than one third of adults experience GERD symptoms at some point during their lives. You should not be discouraged by this statistic because these symptoms can often be prevented by making a few changes to your diet and/or lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at some common triggers for GERD symptoms and what changes you can make to manage your GERD.
Common GERD Trigger Foods
Certain foods are more likely to trigger GERD symptoms. GERD triggers can be very individual, and this is by no means an all-inclusive list. Chocolate is one trigger because it can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the band of muscles which generally keeps stomach acid contained within the stomach. Alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine can also cause acid reflux in some GERD sufferers. Highly acidic foods and drinks such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and carbonated beverages can increase the amount of acidity in the stomach and make symptoms worse. You might find that not all of these trigger foods affect you, though some people are affected by them all.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
The timing of your meals can also affect your GERD symptoms. Try to avoid eating just before you go to bed, as lying down after you eat can allow acid to leak out into your esophagus. Overweight GERD sufferers may see tremendous benefit from losing weight, so try starting a healthier diet and exercise routine. Decreasing consumption of fatty foods can help with weight loss and with increasing the speed at which the stomach empties, potentially reducing symptoms.
Identifying Your Own Triggers
We are all different and triggers that affect one person might not be a problem for another. Keeping a food diary for a few weeks can help you keep track of the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience. This should help you to identify which foods are your biggest GERD triggers so you can avoid them in the future. Please note that symptoms might not occur immediately after you eat a trigger food; it could take a few hours for acid to rise in your stomach.
Moderation Is Key
Moderation is the key to a GERD diet. Eating smaller portions of food can improve your symptoms. In addition, many people are able to tolerate small amounts of their trigger foods. This means you may not have to completely give up your favorite treats… you just have to restrict yourself to a few pieces of chocolate rather than the entire bar!
Seeking Help with GERD
Many people find that seeking professional help makes it easier for them to develop and stick to a diet which can improve their GERD. As a result, their symptoms often become easier to manage.
Do you need help managing your GERD symptoms? Call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates today to schedule an appointment.