Living With Acid Reflux: Tips To Help Relieve The Pain.

Acid reflux is hard to live with. Especially during the summer as family and friends often get together over backyard barbecues or picnics in the park. However, for people living with chronic heartburn, known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), these gatherings can be especially uncomfortable.

GERD is a common digestive disorder that occurs when there is a back flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach. This is caused by a relaxed or weakened lower esophageal sphincter the muscular valve between the esophagus and the stomach which opens to allow the passage of food and normally closes once food has reached the stomach. When it does not close tightly, stomach acid can travel back up to the esophagus, causing a burning feeling in the chest, often accompanied by an unpleasant sour acidly taste in the mouth.

Although GERD is a chronic condition, there are simple ways to help relieve its symptoms. In general, people with acid reflux should avoid both caffeinated and carbonated beverages as well as citrus fruits and juices, which can also aggravate heartburn.

Unfortunately, many summer staple foods are off-limits to people with chronic heartburn, or should be consumed sparingly. When planning a picnic or barbecue, avoid high-fat meats and processed "cold cut" sandwich meat, which often contains high levels of fat. These foods cause heartburn in two ways: first, greasy and fatty foods promote relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to rise into the esophagus. Second, excessive fat in foods slows the process of food leaving the stomach, which can cause backup into the esophagus.

The good new is there are many summertime foods that people with GERD can enjoy. Grilled lean red meats,and chicken are tasty barbecue alternatives, as are fish and seafood. Substitute sweet potatoes, baked potatoes and rice for french fries or chips as side dishes, and vegetables can be steamed to help reduce heartburn.

Avoiding large meals is another key to relieving the symptoms of GERD. Large amounts of food stretch the stomach, which can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and allow acids to back up into the esophagus.

Try eating smaller portions at regular intervals throughout the day. Overeating is also important to another feature of GERD obesity. Recent work demonstrates an association between GERD and being overweight. For these reasons, a healthful low-fat diet is an important ally in the fight against GERD and more importantly, against other diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

The time of day you eat may aggravate heartburn. Gravity acts as an important barrier to acid reflux during the day, so staying upright after a meal helps prevent symptoms. Try not to eat or drink three to four hours before going to bed.

Although the symptoms of GERD can be uncomfortable, they should not prevent you from having fun in the summer. By limiting certain foods and making slight changes to your eating habits, people with chronic heartburn can barbeque with the best of them!


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