Life with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) certainly has its challenges as persistent heartburn, along with other symptoms like regurgitation, plague your waking — and sleeping — hours.
At West Houston Surgical Associates, under the experienced guidance of Dr. Christopher Reilly, we specialize in gastrointestinal problems, helping our patients in the Houston area overcome the disruption and discomfort that conditions like GERD can bring on. While there’s much we can do on our end through medications and surgery, there are some very important steps you can take on your own to offset the symptoms of GERD.
To get you started, here are some simple lifestyle modifications you can make to help you lead a more normal and active life without GERD rearing its most unwelcome head.
Watch what you eat
Since GERD is caused by stomach acids that rise up into your throat, you should steer clear of foods that activate these acids at higher levels. For example, spicy, fatty, and fried foods trigger GERD as your body needs to call upon more acid to break them down. Foods like onions, chocolate, tomatoes, and citrus fruits are also known drivers of GERD.
Instead, try a diet that includes more melons, bananas, apples, and vegetables. Lean proteins like eggs and chicken and whole-grain-based products are also easier to digest. We’re happy to give you a full list of dos and don’ts when it comes to dietary changes that help you avoid GERD.
Watch when you eat
One of the biggest triggers for nighttime GERD is eating too close to bedtime. If you eat and then go lie down, your body isn’t in the right position to digest foods properly. So avoid eating within 2-3 hours of your bedtime, and be mindful of staying in an upright position after you eat.
Cut out (or down on) the alcohol
Alcohol can stir up your stomach acids so reducing, or eliminating, your alcohol intake is important. While life as a teetotaler may not sound appealing, at the very least, recognize when you’re in the midst of a GERD episode and turn to water instead. Speaking of drinks, cutting out carbonated beverages is also a great step toward reducing GERD.
OK, we know we said “simple” modifications, and weight loss can be anything but simple, but it’s one of the most important things you can to do to ward off GERD. Your risk for developing GERD rises exponentially with your weight, so even losing just a little (5-10 pounds) can have a positive effect. You can accomplish this through tweaks in your diet and ramping up your exercise regimen. Perhaps you can kill several birds with one stone by eating a healthy meal full of lean proteins and vegetables and then going for a walk to help your digestion while also burning calories.
If you’re struggling with a significant amount of weight, the good news is that we offer bariatric surgeries that can give you the winning edge over your weight problems — and your GERD.
If you have more questions about your GERD, or you’d like to get started on your plan of attack to reduce its effect on your life, please give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.