Millions of Americans suffer from heartburn, indigestion, or GERD, an acronym for gastro esophageal reflux. This is a condition where acid stomach contents backwards from the stomach into the lower esophagus which is the tube from the mouth to the stomach. GERD is also associated with a dry cough, sore throat, hoarseness, burping, abdominal bloating, and difficulty swallowing. The symptoms are often accentuated when a man or woman lies down which allows the acid stomach contents to go backwards into the esophagus producing the burning and pain associated with GERD.
Many who suffer from GERD take medications called proton pump inhibitors. These medications while preventing GERD also cause nutrient deficiencies, joint pain, infections, heart attacks, and even dementia.
Nearly 15 million Americans use proton pump inhibitors. However, there are non-medical solutions that don’t require the medications and don’t expose those with GERD to the side effects of the medications.
One of the risk factors for GERD is obesity. Those men and women who have a BMI or body mass index greater than 30 are twice as likely to experience GERD. Therefore, weight loss is one of the best and easiest ways to decrease GERD and not use any medication.
Other risk factors include smoking and excessive use of alcohol. Both alcohol and nicotine in cigarettes relax the muscles between the stomach and esophagus and allow the acid contents of the stomach to go backwards into the esophagus. Consequently, discontinuing the use of cigarettes and limiting the alcohol especially in the evening will help alleviate the symptoms of GERD.
Simple solutions include avoid eating large quantities of food at one time as this distends the stomach and causes the acidic content to reverse direction into the esophagus. Consider having five or six small meals a day instead of the standard three large ones. I suggest avoid exercising soon after consuming a meal. Also, if you experience GERD when laying down, then raise the head of the bed by six to eight inches.
Next in order of non-medical treatment of GERD is diet. Certain foods like coffee, onions, garlic, acidic fruit juices like grapefruit and orange juice, and chocolate are likely to precipitate GERD. Another caveat is to avoid high fat foods as they take time to digest and remain in the stomach for longer periods of tie. I recommend natural, unprocessed foods, especially lean protein foods like poultry, fish, egg whites, and low fat dairy products, whole grans, and non-acidic vegetables and fruits. High fiber foods are also helpful. I suggest consuming a pound of vegetables a day, half of which are cooked and the other half eaten raw as well as a pound of raw fruit a day. This will add ample amounts of fiber to your diet.
Bottom line: GERD is a common condition that is often treated with medication, i.e., proton pump inhibitors. I suggest you try these non-medical solutions first before considering the use of medications.