GERD: Why Diet Will Always Matter
Acid reflux disease is a chronic health problem that impacts about 60 percent of the US adult population. Another chronic health problem that is currently an issue with about the same number of US adults: obesity. The foods you choose to eat, and how much food you eat, have a direct influence on your acid reflux symptoms. Learning to control your diet is one of the first steps in overcoming heartburn.
Obesity and Reflux: The Connection
About 60 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, and about 30 percent are considered obese. Similarly, about 60 percent of adults in the United States experience some acid reflux, and about 30 percent are afflicted with symptoms more than once a week, a frequency which puts them into the diagnostic criteria for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
These conditions are not mutually exclusive, but the connections between them are pretty clear. You don’t need to be overweight to get acid reflux, and having acid reflux won’t make you overweight. Yet, they are intrinsically connected thanks to the lifestyle habits that set your body up to experience both.
Diet Habits and Acid Reflux Disease
Managing your diet appropriately is one of the most crucial components of dealing with acid reflux disease. Heartburn happens when digestive juices like stomach acid wash out of the stomach and into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a door that is supposed to prevent this from happening by opening to allow food into the stomach, but not allowing anything to flow upwards. Certain things prevent the LES from doing its job correctly. Overeating puts undue pressure on the stomach, making the LES have difficulty at doings its job. Similarly, foods that are high in fat will actually slow down the LES, making it easy for acid to reflux into the esophagus.
Controlling your diet for acid reflux means doing much more than avoiding the spicy foods that seem to trigger your heartburn. You have to make a fundamental shift in how you approach foods by always putting your health first. If you eat foods that promote better health, there will be less opportunity for acid reflux to strike.
In managing acid reflux disease, diet is always going to matter. While medications are sometimes used to ease symptoms, and noninvasive surgical procedures can correct physical issues that are allowing for acid reflux, neither will fully correct your acid reflux disease if you do not make changes to your diet.