Acid reflux is a problem wherein the gastric juices, which contain acid, come back into the gullet or esophagus.
Main Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease
- Regurgitation - Food brought back into the mouth
- Heartburn - A burning sensation which rises from the lower chest or stomach, and comes up into the throat.
- Dysphagia - Swallowing is difficult or even painful.
- Pain in the chest.
- Asthma, dental erosion, and hoarseness, since the stomach juices get into the air passage, mouth, and throat.
Why Does Acid Reflux Occur?
This problem is experienced by some people regularly, in which case it is known as GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Once the food gets into the stomach, it is partially digested by enzymes and acids produced in the stomach. In normal conditions, this partially digested food is pushed into the small intestine by the stomach muscle.
However, in people who suffer from acid reflux, the partially digested food from stomach travels in the reverse direction, getting into the esophagus, which results in damage and inflammation. Some factors that contribute to GERD are: obesity, alcohol, cigarettes, fatty foods, especially if they are deep-fried, stomach emptying being delayed and pregnancy.
The pressure inside the abdomen is increased due to pregnancy and obesity, leading to the contents of stomach being pushed back into the esophagus. In some cases, the contents of stomach are emptied very slowly. When it is full of partially digested food containing acid, there are increased chances of an acid reflux, particularly when the person lies down.
Diet Tips for Acid Reflux
Many people who suffer from GERD have a tendency of taking over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, to relieve their symptoms. However, most of these people can alleviate the symptoms just by following a proper diet. Here are some tips on what you should eat and what you need to avoid:
Further Tips to Combat Acid Reflux
- Instead of eating 3 large meals in a day, consume smaller meals more frequently. Lower amount of food means less load on stomach, resulting in the stomach secreting less acid for digestion.
- Avoid high-fat foods, especially from fast food outlets. They have a tendency of remaining longer in the stomach, so it has to secrete excessive acid to digest them.
- Most importantly, avoid overeating. Overeating any food will cause the stomach to secrete excessive acid.
- An upright position should be maintained while eating as well as at least 45 minutes after a meal.
- When lying down, it is advisable to elevate the head of the bed by 6-8 inches.
Misconceptions of Acid Reflux Diet
Beverages do not Stimulate Release of Stomach Acid:
It is a misconception that beverages flow quickly through the stomach, without the acid secretion being affected. Many types of beverages, like pop, wine, and beer do stimulate the secretion of acid in the stomach, with beer being the worst. The acid can be doubled in your stomach within an hour of consuming beer.
Drinking Milk to Reduce Symptoms:
Many people drink milk before going to sleep in the hope of easing the symptoms of acid reflux. However, this can be counterproductive if you have eaten a large meal. When you eat a heavy meal at dinner, it results in the secretion of excessive acid in the stomach.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.