Monday, April 25, 2011

Causes of Gastro- Esophageal Reflux Disease: Diet and Life Style Modification to treat Acid Reflux

GERD or Gastro-esophageal reflux disease is a serious disease caused due to regurgitation of stomach content into the esophagus. Though a relatively common gastro intestinal disorder, GERD can result in Barrett’s Esophagus, a complication which is potentially pre-cancerous. As per a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, 0.4% of Barrett’s esophagus transform into cancerous lesions annually. Lifesytle modification and Diet can treat GERD

Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease: Causes and Symptoms

GERD is very common
GERD or acid reflux is primarily associated with regurgitation of the content of stomach into the esophagus. Some of the causes include,

  • Weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is suppose to prevent the stomach content from going back into the esophagus, is one of the prime reasons for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease
  • Impaired stomach functions including production of too much gastric acid or delay in the emptying of the stomach or increased pressure in the stomach are some of the reasons responsible for acid reflux. Type 1 diabetes is associated with delayed stomach empting and increases the risk of developing GERD
  • Medications play a crucial role in development of acid reflux disease. Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, dopamine, sedatives, calcium channel blockers, anitcholinergics, etc are known to increase the risk of GERD
  • Studies have shown that Asthma and Pregnancy are associated with acid reflux. Both these conditions then to increase the intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn is responsible for increased pressure in the stomach, a factor that can result in acid reflux
  • Hiatus Hernia, or a defect in the diaphragm is responsible for some of the cases of reflux disease
The symptoms include heartburn, acidity, burning in the throat with sore taste in the mouth, indigestion, water brash, abdominal distress and flatulence.

 Diet to treat Acid reflux disease

Certain dietary recommendations have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of acid reflux disease
  • Milk and yogurt are beneficial in alleviating the symptoms associated with acid reflux. Milk like other alkaline foods tends to neutralize the acidic juices of the stomach and thereby reduces the damage caused to the esophageal walls due to reflux. Ice-creams also have a cooling effect on the stomach.
  • Mint has therapeutic action
  • Foods including ginger, mint, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds have therapeutic effect on the gastro-intestinal system, as they stimulate motility.
  • Avoid fatty foods, aerated drinks, beverages, alcohol, etc from the diet. These foods result in gaseous distention of the stomach and also cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, thereby increasing the risk of acid reflux disease.

Life style modifications to treat Acid reflux disease

 Life style overhaul is vital in order to alleviate the symptoms associated with acid reflux. Regularizing the daily meal timing, exercising, avoiding tobacco and smoking, etc play a crucial role in treatment of acid reflux disease. 
  • Take small quantity of food at frequent intervals. Avoid overeating. Overeating can result in overstretching of the esophageal sphincter and increase the chances of acid reflux
  • Weight loss and weight management is crucial to treat Acid reflux disease, as increased intra-abdominal pressure is associated with GERD
  • Never hurry through your meals. Chew your food adequately. Chewing food and eating leisurely avoids gaseous distention and also helps loose weight
  • Eat evening meals at least two hours prior to going to bed. Never lie down immediately after a meal, this can promote acid reflux. Sit erect for at least forty five minutes after a meal.
  • Keeping the head end of the bed elevated by about six to eight inches is also considered beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of GERD. 

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