Obesity’s Effect on Heartburn
Being overweight significantly increases your risk of developing frequent heartburn and acid reflux. The burning sensation that develops when digestive juices from the stomach irritate the lining of the esophagus is frequently an unwelcome reminder of the health consequences associated with excess weight.
More than 20 studies completed in recent decades confirm that there is a strong link between obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
There are several factors that could be to blame for this association:
- Dietary choices: Certain foods prompt higher acid production, like fried foods, alcohol and fatty foods. These are items frequently found in abundance in an unhealthy diet, and will lead to weight gain when consumed regularly.
- Eating habits: Overeating and eating directly before going to sleep increase your risk of developing acid reflux and heartburn. Both of these actions add pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that keeps stomach acid out of the esophagus.
When someone is obese or severely overweight, a buildup of excess weight often sits around the stomach. This excess weight can apply pressure to the internal organs, especially while lying down. Pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter can lead to reflux.
Losing Weight to Lose Reflux
Losing weight can alleviate pressure from the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. While losing weight can’t correct any damage the LES has already experienced, it sometimes is possible to reduce the intensity and frequency of acid reflux by alleviating this pressure.
There are several healthy habits that will help alleviate acid reflux and encourage weight loss:
- Eat smaller portions
- Drink water and avoid alcoholic, sugary and carbonated beverages
- Avoid fatty and fried foods
According to certain estimates, people with low BMIs are about 30 percent less likely to develop GERD. If you are of a healthy weight level, other methods for controlling acid reflux can be explored. Dr. Bagnato will help you determine if you are a well-suited candidate for a weight loss program during your treatment for GERD.