Heartburn Awareness Week: 7 tips against GERD

Last week was heartburn awareness week. In more medical terms heartburn is called GERD – Gastro Esofagal Reflux Disease. It is an irritation of the esofagal and stomach lining, manifesting itself as a burning sensation in the central chest area, described by those suffering from GERD as heartburn.

This feeling is caused by acid from the stomach reaching the esofagus lining, which is in turn caused by over consumption of fatty foods or consumption of too much food in general (especially before bed). I was searching for evidence on GERD prevention but mostly found information about the possible negative consequences of GERD. These are ranging from esofagal infections to developing irritable bowel disease.

Anatomy of the upper digestive system. The mouth continues into the esofagus, which connects to the stomach. Too much food or too much acid in the stomach leads to irritation of the esofagal wall, which is, unlike the stomach wall, not made to resist the strong acidity.
Anatomy of the upper digestive system: The mouth continues into the esofagus, which connects to the stomach. Too much food or too much acid in the stomach leads to irritation of the esofagal wall, which is, unlike the stomach wall, not made to resist the strong acidity.

HAVING HEARTBURN PROBLEMS MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT TO enjoy all the awesome food out there. So, if you are overweight or love fatty food, it might be a wise idea to watch out for heartburn and work on preventing it. Especially with the Christmas holiday approaching, a few tips on how to do this might be welcome. Whether you already have this condition or are hoping to prevent it, here are some things which you can do:

1. Cook meals based on recipes from this blog. These recipes are usually all low in fat and low in calories, while being rich in flavor (so you’ve got nothing to lose). I will be posting many Christmas feast recipes this December.

2. Don’t eat 3 hours prior to going to sleep. Your stomach needs time to digest food. When you keep on eating after dinner or have dinner very close to bed time, you are employing your stomach at a point when you would actually like it to settle down and stop digestion for the day. If you do end up eating till late, don’t head for bed immediately but keep yourself awake for another 3 hours to prevent heartburn during the night. Better yet, go for a refreshing 30 minute walk to aid your metabolism.

3. Eat foods that are low in fat by opting for salads without dressing (or with a low fat dressing of olive oil and vinegar) and by opting for light meat instead of red meat. Eating less fatty foods will give your digestive system a welcome break, and give you heartburn relief.

4. Less acid intake = less acidic stomach. Makes sense right? You can help your heartburn by avoiding acidy drinks such as sodas or fresh lemonade. Same goes for eating citrus fruits such as grapefruits or oranges (ps. it’s a really good idea to stop drinking freshly squeezed organge juice on an empty stomach). Mineral water with a slice of lemon or a natural (low sugar) carrot juice is a much more suitable option. Apparently, drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar disolved in a glass of water is also a remedy (but I know from experience that this tastes like a dirty, old sock so you will have to try this theory on your own :s).

5. Eat ginger. Ginger is commonly known to alleviate GERD – although I could not find a scientific article that this is based on. However, if pregnant ladies swear by it to relieve their indigestion, you could definitely try it too. Here is some inspiration for home made ginger tea as well as other herbal teas. You can also try making this curry or this egg brunch recipe, both containing ginger.

6. Limit intake of coffee and chocolate. These two good things in life do upset the stomach when consumed in excess and could lead you to feeling uncomfortable the whole night. Instead of these indulgences, choose a cup of herbal tea, mineral water and a piece of fruit (or pie based on fruit). And remember – no matter how much coffee or chocolate you consume, each tiny bit less is a benefitial option for your case (the more you limit the intake of these products the better your stomach will feel).

7. Moderation is key. Aside from prolonging your life by a few years, not overeating will help you with heartburn. A less full stomach is a stomach with less acid production and less chance of content overflow back into the esofagus.

Remember that love goes through the belly, so keep your belly loved by consuming less fats and alcohol and more fruits and veggies!

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