GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common digestive issue and often people are given antacid medication to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms but unfortunately this doesn’t get to the bottom of the issue.
Common symptoms of this are pain behind sternum, heartburn which is worse when laying down or bending or a sensation that food is stuck. The symptoms can also be similar to a hiatus hernia (when part of the stomach gets pushed inside the chest) so it is best to get this ruled out first with a GP.
What causes it?
There can be many causes for this issue, mainly dietary and lifestyle related such as stress, being overweight, high acidity – smoking, alcohol etc or consuming trigger foods. It can also be due to a dysfunction of the sphincter which is meant to keep the gastric acid in the stomach – if this isn’t working properly and becomes looser then that allows for the acid to leak back up which causes the heartburn symptoms.
Trigger foods can include spices, fatty/fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, citrus, chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, onions, mint/peppermint, high sugar, fizzy drinks.
How can you relieve it?
Just as it can be brought on by diet and lifestyle, it can also be healed with it. If this is something that you suffer with you can try the following:
Remove aggravating/trigger foods and introduce soothing foods – oats, aloe vera, camomile tea, slippery elm powder (1-2 teaspoons mixed with water) are all very soothing for the digestive tract.
Avoid large meals and instead have 4/5 smaller meals throughout the day.
Avoid eating too close to bedtime – leave at least 3 hours and avoid lying down after meals
Get tested for H. pylori – this is a bacterial infection which is closely linked to upper digestive disorders so it’s a good idea to rule this out.
Add digestive enzymes to help with the digestion of food.
Increase fibre to reduce the risk of hiatus hernia.