Dealing with Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common digestive health condition in which gastric acid from the stomach refluxes up into the esophagus after eating. Heartburn, which can feel like a burning or tightness in the chest, is the most common symptom of acid reflux. There is no permanent cure for this condition, but there are numerous prescription and over-the-counter treatments that can help people find relief from their symptoms. The best treatment for acid reflux is often dietary and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and exercising more regularly. If you’ve been suffering from acid reflux, talk to your doctor to discuss the best treatment options. Here, you’ll find information about some of today’s top treatment options including foods to avoid and lifestyle changes that can help you find relief.
Diet is the key to preventing acid reflux, even if you take medication to allow for a less restrictive diet. Eating foods that are high in proteins and low in fats will go a long way toward minimizing symptoms. Some of the best sources of protein for people with heartburn are beans, legumes, chicken breast, turkey and even bison, all of which are lower in fat than ground beef, chicken thighs, beef steaks and certain cuts of pork. Avoid fast food restaurants that offer far too many cheap, unhealthy meal options compared to their offerings of desirable healthy options.
The ways in which meat and protein sources are prepared are also important. When cooking meat, avoid using ingredients such as onions and garlic which are known to aggravate heartburn symptoms. Also, avoid preparing meat and other meals with chili powder, curry or other spices, which also prevent heartburn symptoms. Grilling meat in such a way that fat runs off or is strained is also a great way to reduce the occurrence of acid reflux.
Other diet tips for treating acid reflux include avoiding citrus fruits, tomato-based products, chocolate and peppermint. Drinking caffeinated or acidic beverages (including both decaf and regular coffee) can also cause acid reflux symptoms. Also, avoiding overeating can reduce the occurrence of acid reflux. Rather than eating large meals, split up your food consumption into several smaller meals. Eating less food with each sitting reduces the stress on your digestive system.
Various lifestyle changes can also help people who suffer from acid reflux. Quitting smoking may be the most important thing a person with this condition can do; smoking causes an increase in stomach acids while also inhibiting the proper functioning of muscles and organs throughout the body. Another lifestyle tip is to not eat before bed. Giving yourself two to three hours of digestion time before lying down reduces the chances of acid refluxing into the esophagus. Obesity is a leading risk factor of acid reflux, and taking steps to lose weight - either through dieting, support groups or other means - is another valuable lifestyle change. Wearing loose-fitting clothes can also help.
Over-the-counter treatments for acid reflux include antacids, which neutralize stomach acids to help prevent symptoms from occurring. Other anti-inflammatory medicines can reduce inflammation and irritation of the esophageal sphincter muscles. Prescription medications such proton pump inhibitors and H-2 receptor blockers can also be helpful. Proton pump inhibitors slow the production of stomach acid. H-2 blockers do the same; they’re active for less time, but can be used alongside antacids. Surgical options to treat acid reflux also exist, though surgery is used as a last resort after other treatment options have failed. Most patients are able to find relief from acid reflux with a combination of diet and lifestyle changes.