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Why Do I Have Acid Reflux?

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 By Andrea M. Pampaloni,  Ph.D.

Medical issues can create challenges to weight loss, as is the case for people with acid reflux.

There are a lot of reasons why people have difficulty achieving weight loss or sticking to a program. Even when your head is in the right place, there can be medical issues that create additional challenges to weight loss. This can be the case for people with acid reflux, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

As food is digested it goes from the mouth, through the esophagus, then into the stomach where acids help break it down. Acid reflux occurs when that stomach acid flows backwards into the esophagus, causing heartburn or a burning feeling in the chest.

Some foods such as citrus, tomato, spices and fats contribute to acid reflux; however, there are a number of other risk factors. Excess weight, whether from obesity or pregnancy, is a big contributing factor. Also, eating larger meals and then bending or lying down afterwards can cause acid reflux, as can some medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen.

How to Avoid GERD

Some people have symptoms only occasionally that can be managed with antacids or other over-the-counter medications that help neutralize acid in the stomach. But if symptoms occur more that twice a week or antacids don’t work, it could be Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This may require medical intervention. That said, there are changes you can incorporate to minimize the occurrence of acid reflux:

  • Weight loss and exercise can make a big difference
  • Avoid overeating and don’t lie down after meals
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
  • Wear loose, less restrictive clothing
  • Recognize foods that trigger acid reflux (such as tomato products, fatty or greasy foods, onions, citrus, soda, caffeine and others)
  • Chew non-mint-flavored gum: Chewing increases saliva in your mouth and absorbs acid so it doesn’t get to the esophagus — but avoid mint because it might have a reverse effect
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and smoking.
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques into your day, like meditation or deep breathing
  • Raise the head of your bed by four to six inches

What are the Symptoms of GERD?

It can be uncomfortable, so being aware of the symptoms can help you address it quickly. If you experience heartburn after eating, have difficulty swallowing, feel like you have a lump in your throat, regurgitate food or experience chest pain, check with your doctor. They can request tests to check your esophagus or stomach to determine if it is GERD, and then treat it accordingly.

Fortunately, acid reflux and GERD can be well-managed with moderate dietary and lifestyle changes, or sometimes the use of medication. Ginger and fennel are great choices to avoid acid reflux and they add flair to meals (and drinks!). With these and other options, combined with a little creativity in the kitchen, you can still enjoy tasty, flavorful meals!


About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.

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