Millions of Americans suffer from heartburn every day. A new study shows how losing weight can alleviate chronic heartburn (or GERD). What foods and factors contribute to heartburn and what can you do to prevent it?
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a condition that results in a painful or uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest, caused by the release of acid from the stomach back into the esophagus. There are some common foods that can cause heartburn. Learning what triggers your heartburn and altering your diet accordingly can help to ease the condition.
At the end of the esophagus is a tight band of muscle, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter. When we swallow, this band relaxes so that food can pass from the esophagus and make its way to the stomach. If the sphincter doesn’t close properly again after allowing food through, stomach acid can pass back into the esophagus. Bending or lying down can make the condition worse.
So What Causes Heartburn?
Caffeinated Drinks, Tomatoes and Chocolate, Citrus, and Alcohol
Food and drink containing these products can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle that keeps the stomach juices within your stomach. When the LES is not tight enough, stomach acid seeps or squirts backwards into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, especially at night time.
Fatty or Fried Food and Large Meals
Food that is high in fat can slow down your digestion, holding food in your stomach for longer. This adds pressure to your stomach, which in turn can weaken the LES, causing acid reflux. The same goes for very large meals; a full stomach can add pressure to the LES, weakening the seal between stomach and esophagus.
Try to limit your intake of fatty food and limit portion sizes to avoid heartburn.
Eating Before Bedtime
Lying down when your stomach is full can cause extra pressure on; you guessed it, your LES. This can cause food and stomach acid reflux.
Try to eat at least 3 hours before bedtime and keep night time snacks light.
A tight waistline, after a big meal, a tight fitting belt or slenderizing products, squeeze your stomach, which can push food in your stomach upwards, forcing pressure on the LES.
Don’t wear very tight clothes and underwear if you want to avoid heartburn.
Heartburn and Weight
If you are overweight then you are more likely to suffer from heartburn. Studies indicate that around 35% of overweight people suffer from heartburn. This is because, on top of the food choices frequently made by people who are overweight, such as fatty food and larger portion sizes, carrying just a few pounds extra can put even more pressure on the LES.
Prevent Permanent Damage
Losing weight and changing your lifestyle can help to prevent or stop heartburn. However, if permanent damage is caused, such as severe damage to the LES or the esophagus, weight loss and diet changes are unlikely to help. This is why it is important to act quickly if you experience chronic heartburn or GERD.
If you are struggling to lose weight and keep it off, weight loss surgery, such as Greenzone lap band surgery or gastric bypass surgery could be the best option for you. The many health benefits of weight loss surgery are long lasting and, in many cases, noticeable within weeks or even days of the procedure.