Heartburn? What to Know About Acid Reflux

By Eugenia Killoran

Heartburn? Is there anyone who has not heard countless commercials to pop a pill to relieve acid reflux? Acid reflux is the flow of stomach acid back into the esophagus. A common symptom is heartburn – a burning discomfort felt anywhere from the stomach up into the chest and throat. Instead of pills, many health experts now recommend an acid reflux diet and other lifestyle solutions. In this article, learn what they are.

“The sooner we start an acid reflux diet and healthier lifestyle, the better,” recommends Danine Fruge, MD, Associate Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida.

GERD

That’s because acid reflux can become a serious, chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD can have several unpleasant symptoms that include difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, dry sore throat, and coughing, as well as heartburn. Depending on their severity, these symptoms can significantly impair daily quality of life. Worse yet, GERD can lead to life-threatening conditions, including esophageal ulcers and cancer.

The Causes and Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, the flow of stomach acid back into the esophagus, can become a serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Photo: Depositphotos

The problem with Pills

So why not just take the medications that neutralize stomach acid or restrict its production? The problem is, except for the most serious cases of GERD, these drugs are not meant for long-term or continual use. Over time, they can have negative side effects. Antacids can eventually upset the digestive tract and lead to diarrhea or constipation. Proton pump inhibitors like Prevacid and Prilosec, which are used to reduce the production of stomach acid, have been linked to increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), pneumonia, and negative drug interactions.

And unfortunately, the many pills now available to treat acid reflux have done little to curtail its incidence. Approximately 40% of adult Americans now suffer from acid reflux. And shockingly, rates of esophageal cancer in the U.S. have increased 500% since the 1970s. Research, particularly a recent study from Denmark following more than 9, 800 GERD sufferers, has linked proton pump inhibitors with increase risk of esophageal cancer.

Have a Conversation with Your Physician

“So, begin by talking with your doctor about the risks and benefits of extended use of drugs to treat your acid reflux,” advises Dr. Fruge.

stomach acid healthyaging.net

Photo: DepositPhotos

Know the Cause to Know the Solution

Secondly, keep in mind that, as with many things in life, the solution to a problem can often be found by examining its causes.

The Acid Reflux Diet Solution

Following an acid reflux diet and other lifestyle solutions can help you reduce and maybe even eliminate acid reflux.

For the vast majority of people, acid reflux and GERD are brought on by lifestyle-related factors, including:

Smoking
Excessive alcohol use
Obesity
Diets high in fat
Diets high in acid
Diets high in spices
Diets high in sugar
Diets high in caffeine
Large, late-night meals, especially just before bedtime
Stress

Acid Reflux Diet and Lifestyle – Pritikin Program

From this list you can probably already discern the solution. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can prevent and treat more than just cardiovascular-related diseases. They are the solution to a whole host of health problems, including acid reflux and GERD.

Observes Dr. Fruge, MD, “Our guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center are amazed that not only do problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol disappear with healthy Pritikin living, their acid reflux disappears, too.”

Pritikin Diet for Acid Reflux

Enjoy a superabundance of healthy delicious foods, and kiss acid reflux goodbye! Learn more about the healthiest diet on earth.

Photo: Deposit Photos

13 Key Lifestyle Solutions For Acid Reflux

To prevent or reduce acid reflux, start an acid reflux diet and lifestyle like the Pritikin Program. Here are 13 key lifestyle-based solutions:

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Employ stress-reducing skills like meditation and yoga. Even something as simple as 10 minutes daily of deep breathing can be hugely beneficial. Avoid acid reflux by sitting at a 45-degree angle after dinner.
  3. A recliner set at a 45-degree angle or higher can help prevent reflux in the evening after dinner.
  4. Enjoy a full night’s sleep, every night.
  5. Eat plenty of whole foods naturally low in fat and sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy, and fish.
    Steer clear of fatty meat, sugary drinks (especially carbonated drinks), processed foods, and fatty, sugary desserts.
  6. Drink little or no alcohol and caffeine.
  7. If spicy foods or acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, and tomatoes seem to lead to symptoms of acid reflux, avoid them.
    Play detective. Keep a diary of eating and activities to see what exacerbates acid reflux symptoms; then eliminate the culprits.
  8. Eat dinner earlier in the evening, preferably before 7 PM. To prevent acid reflux use a wedge to raise your torso at a 45-degree angle
  9. Before falling asleep at night, raise your body so that your esophagus is more upright, at a 45-degree angle, using a wedge or bed.
  10. Don’t lie down or go to sleep after eating. “Sit upright for at least three hours after a meal,” recommends Dr. Fruge. “A recliner set at a 45-degree angle or higher is a good option for preventing reflux in the evening after dinner. Even better, take an after-dinner walk before reclining.”
  11. Before falling asleep for the night, try raising your head, shoulders, and torso so that your esophagus is more upright, at a 45-degree angle, using a wedge or bed. “Just propping the head with a pillow does not work,” clarifies Dr. Fruge.
  12. Quit smoking.
  13. If you’re overweight, follow a healthy diet and exercise program like Pritikin to help shed the excess weight, and keep it off.

A Happier, Healthier Life

Following these acid reflux diet and lifestyle-related modifications can greatly increase your chances of living without the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux, and, in the long run, avoiding the possibility of serious health consequences.

And certainly, by following a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin, “you will improve your overall health and well being,” concludes Dr. Fruge.

To learn more about the Pritikin Diet recommendations click here: Pritikin Eating Plan

Eugenia Killoran has been the food and fitness journalist for the Pritikin Program since 1992. She has published more than 3,000 articles, lectures, and book chapters on a wide variety of healthy living and weight-loss topics. Article used with permission from Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa.

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