Tips to Manage Heartburn and GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)
A few tips and tricks for GERD
(1) Pursue variety and moderation in the material, below. Avoid fanaticism:
(2) “Low carbohydrate diet” is just a synonym for a high fat, high protein diet. These diets tend to exacerbate GERD – and have other negative health consequences, as well. Get as far away from that literature as you can – it can be very convincing, but it is probably not in your best interests to pursue such diets. I suggest, instead, that you may wish to focus your web searches on key words along the lines of “low fat Whole Food Plant Based diet.”
(3) Note that fat closes off your pyloric sphincter and traps food in you stomach – with peristaltic churning – for hours. This exacerbates GERD symptoms. The fat intrinsic to animal flesh, cheese, oils, avocados, nuts, seeds and chocolate are all sufficient to bring about this effect. A low fat diet reducing or eliminating much of the above is a good place to start to combat GERD.
(4) Ice-cold food and drinks tend to open up the pyloric sphincter and empty the stomach, reducing GERD symptoms. When you do drink, try drinking ice water. Avoid carbonated beverages – the carbonation just expands the stomach and exacerbates GERD symptoms.
(5) Graze – multiple small meals and snacks instead of three large meals a day.
(6) Different people have different triggering foods. Look for yours and avoid as appropriate.
(7) Do what you can to reduce abdominal pressure. If overweight, lose weight. A BMI of 21 may be a useful target. Or a waist-hip ratio of .95 or better (.85 in females). Or a waist circumference that is ~50% of height. Pick a target, any target. Better yet – all three.
(8) Avoid clothing that increases abdominal pressure – particularly when sitting down. For gentlemen this may mean buying larger-waist underwear and pants than the ones you have been wearing since high school – getting away from elastic waists – and switching from belts to braces or suspenders – such changes can make a world of difference. For ladies – it may mean switching to less constrictive foundation garments and switching from trousers and skirts and elastic waists to dresses which are loose around the waist.
(9) Elevating the head of the bed four to six inches may be helpful – but back off if this results in ankle swelling. Just flipping up the top portion of a hospital bed tends not to be as helpful – unfortunately, this increases abdominal pressure.
(10) Of course, avoid eating for three or so hours before sleeping. Individualize as appropriate. It may be helpful to have a smaller colder very low fat last meal of the day.
(11) You might try switching sleeping positions. If you normally sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side. If normally on one side, try the other side. Sleeping on one side or the other may make all the difference. This may require different pillows in order to be comfortable. Couples may tend to each have their own side of the bed, and may tend to “spoon” on their sides when going to sleep – or roll away, for that matter. It may be helpful to flip sides – this may require each member of the couple changing their side of the bed – switching over lamps and alarm clocks and such. This will not always help – if it hurts, just switch back – but when it does help, the change can be marked.
(12) And, heck – try sublingual B12.
(13) Note that the antacid regimen that you may be prescribed may reduce absorption of B12 and iron and zinc and copper and molybdenum – and other nutrients unknown. Your stomach is “designed” to be an acid factory – when that is curtailed medically, there are profound effects on digestion. Still – you do what you have to do.
Your B12 and iron levels should best be periodically monitored by your Physician while you are on any such medications. A gentle question or reminder to your Physician may be helpful to make sure that this is occurring.
Antacid medications may include aluminum. If this is true in your case, you may wish to look further into the matter.
(14) Pay attention to your body. It tells you things – if only you will listen. Adjust as appropriate.
Not medical advice. Merely informational. For medical advice, work closely with your wise and learned locally licensed Physician.