We’ve all been there…that burning sensation in your chest after a big meal.  If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you might have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  20% of Americans currently struggle with GERD and as obesity rates rise, unfortunately so will this disease.

Heartburn is a sign of acid reflux.  But it doesn’t always have to be heartburn.  Some people experience cough, hoarseness, clearing of throat and even difficulty swallowing.  Chronic acid reflux can not only be uncomfortable but it can be unhealthy.  Some symptoms of GERD can be predictors of esophageal cancer.  There are tons of OTC medications that can be taken for two wish then stopped to see if the symptoms come back.  (If they do, call your PCP).

Besides meds, what else can you do?  For folks with reflux, certain foods should be limited.  The “problem foods” include foods that are acidic or foods that  relax (or loosen) the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Acidic foods include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato products
  • Vinegar
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Bottled iced tea
  • Canned or bottled foods (citric acid and or ascorbic acid)

Foods that relax the LES:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

So what can you do?

1)       Watch your waistline!  Lose weight if you are overweight.  Excess weight can put pressure on your stomach and relax the LES.

2)      Avoid your “SPANX” (tight fitting clothing).  Loose fitting clothing is best.

3)      Stop those HUGE meals.  Smaller meals will definitely help you out.

4)      Try a sleep number bed?  Or place something under the head of your bed to elevate your head while sleeping (no more than 30 degrees).

5)      And don’t smoke!

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