Eat Right to Minimize GERD This Holiday Season
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is more than just heartburn. In fact, it is the condition whereby acid refluxes back into the esophagus on a regular basis several times a week, for several weeks or more. For those that suffer from GERD, large meals, and especially those that revolve around family gatherings or holidays, can be daunting. How many times have you turned to somebody and said, “I’m going to pay for that later.” For people with moderate-to -severe GERD, this is a distinct reality.
Even more important than the discomfort and lifestyle impediments of GERD is that it can cause cellular changes in the esophagus that can ultimately lead to much more serious issues. As stomach acid pushes up into the esophagus, the cellular composition of the esophagus changes, trying to mimic the stomach lining. This is known as Barrett’s esophagus and is a precursor to esophageal cancer. As such, those suffering from GERD should have it evaluated and treated as soon as possible.
While the thought of GERD can make for a scary holiday, it is worth noting that small diet changes can often make a very big difference in both the incidence and severity of the condition.
- Try to avoid eating significantly more than you would at a regular meal. The additional pressure on the stomach from a large meal can cause acid to reflux back into the esophagus.
- Avoid spicy and highly acidic foods. Spice is a well-known trigger for GERD. Tomatoes, onions, garlic and more can all also trigger GERD. You likely know best what foods cause reflux from prior experience.
- Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol consumption can all increase the risk of GERD
- Avoid drinking any fluid during your meal as this can increase the pressure in your stomach as well. Avoid drinking within an hour before or after your meal
In the short term, visiting your primary care physician about your GERD maybe a great start. However, it is important to note that common medications such as PPI inhibitors should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time. Unfortunately, many patients end up taking them for months, if not years, and increase their risk for a slew of potential issues, not least of which is a greater risk of bone fracture.
Ultimately, visiting a qualified GERD treatment specialist such as those at MIIS can give you a number of options from which to choose. We take a stepwise approach toward your condition, starting with dietary and exercise improvements. If more conservative options do not improve or resolve the problem, we can start to explore surgery in the form of fundoplication, the LINX reflux management device or even a gastric bypass if the patient is also suffering from obesity.
In the end, you do not need to suffer from serious GERD. There are always options available. The most important next step is to speak to a qualified physician to understand what those options are and how they apply to you.