Have you been experiencing chest discomfort, heartburn and indigestion after you eat a meal? Well these could be signs of gastric reflux, also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). The most common cause of gastric reflux is when the lower oesophageal sphincter relaxes allowing the reflux of stomach content and acid. Not pleasant but read our top 5 tips for managing reflux while still enjoying daily life.
#1 Avoid certain foods that may cause symptoms
There are some foods and beverages that are common reflux triggers. These include mint, fatty, spicy and acidic foods, onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate and alcohol. When reflux is problematic, recommendations are to limit all of the above until symptoms settle. However, everyone finds that different foods and drinks trigger symptoms. So, listen to your body and only avoid those that affect you. This will make life a lot easier as you work around the foods that you can tolerate.
#2 Avoid eating 2-3hrs before sleeping
Do you find that the symptoms of reflux get worse at night preventing you from sleeping? This may be because of two reasons. Firstly, eating just before bed is not ideal as it doesn’t allow our body enough time to properly digest the food. So, avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed to help with reflux. Secondly, reflux is more common when lying down because the gravity does not oppose the reflux. You might find elevating the bed head to 75 degrees or propping yourself up slightly with pillows will help manage symptoms. These small changes may help reduce reflux and sleep disturbance.
#3 Weight management and Exercise
One of the top 5 tips for the managing reflux is weight management. Individuals that are above a healthy body weight may be at increased risk of reflux due to excess body fat. Excess body fat can place increased pressure on the stomach which can force stomach contents back into the esophagus. A reduction of a body mass index (BMI) of 3.5 kg/m2 has been found to result in a 40% reduction in the risk of having frequent reflux symptoms 1. Enjoy a balanced diet which is made up largely of plant foods (e.g. vegetables, fruit, nuts, wholegrains) to help maintain a healthy body weight. Also try incorporate physical activity each day such as 30 minutes of walking, gardening or swimming. For individualised nutrition and exercise advice see an accredited practising dietitian (APD) and/or an accredited exercise physiologist.
#4 Stop smoking
Studies have found that smoking has been linked to the symptoms of reflux. Although the mechanism is not clear, it has been found that nicotine relaxes smooth muscles inside the body and increases the production of acid. As a result, smoking relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter and exacerbates the symptoms of reflux. So best to try and quick smoking today and see great health changes.
#5 Manage Stress
Stress is a common triggers of reflux symptoms. Think of a time in your life where you were stressed and as a result had bowel changes or reflux symptoms. This is because of the strong gut-brain axis. Stress can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms including reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. Try to incorporate relaxation techniques as part of your everyday routine to reduce the feelings of stress. Follow a guided meditation program like Smiling Minds for an easy stress management routine.
- Boeckxstaens, G., El-Serag, H.B., Smout, A.J. and Kahrilas, P.J., 2015. Republished: Symptomatic reflux disease: the present, the past and the future. Postgraduate medical journal, 91(1071), pp.46-54
Imaged Sourced from: https://www.nps.org.au/consumers/managing-reflux-and-heartburn
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, to make this as easy for you as possible.