Why do I get reflux every day?
Do you have daily reflux or heartburn or have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and are struggling with uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain and difficulty swallowing?
Managing GERD and heartburn involves a multi-faceted approach that includes dietary and lifestyle modifications. Nutritional therapists like myself who specialise in gastrointestinal health can help create a programme specifically tailored to your needs and your life. But, right now, let me share some thoughts that might help.
Possible causes of GERD, reflux and heartburn
These conditions often occur due to a variety of factors, including:
- a weakened lower oesophageal sphincter (LES)
- hiatal hernia
- being overweight
- certain foods
- certain medications
Many of the above factors weaken the LES, the valve responsible for preventing stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. When the LES is weakened or relaxes abnormally, it can lead to the development of GERD, reflux and heartburn.
What to eat or avoid when you have GERD, reflux and heartburn
If you need some practical advice on what foods to eat or avoid to help you get back on track with managing your symptoms, here are some simple steps you can take.
Avoid trigger foods that make your reflux worse
Certain foods can make your symptoms worse. Common triggers include spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages, fatty and fried foods, and alcohol. Limiting or avoiding these foods can provide relief.
Eat smaller meals to reduce heartburn
Consuming large meals can increase pressure on the LES, leading to acid reflux. Opting for smaller meals or more frequent meals may help to reduce this pressure and may make you feel better.
Choose lean proteins to help reduce reflux
Opting for lean meats like poultry and fish can sometimes help, as high-fat meats can trigger acid reflux. Plant-based protein sources like beans and lentils are also good alternatives.
Increase fibre intake to help with digestion
Including fibre-rich foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help prevent constipation, a factor that may contribute to your symptoms.
Stay hydrated to reduce reflux symptoms
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help dilute stomach acid and reduce the risk of acid reflux.
Lifestyle approaches for managing GERD, reflux and heartburn
In addition to dietary modifications, certain lifestyle changes can help manage your heartburn symptoms effectively.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Being overweight can increase pressure on the stomach, leading to acid reflux. Losing weight and exercising regularly can alleviate symptoms (unless it triggers your reflux). While this might seem easy to do, many of my clients tell me they struggled without the help and accountability of a practitioner like me. It is often not more knowledge that is needed but motivation and continuity.
Raising the head of your bed
Raising the head of the bed by six to eight inches can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus during sleep.
Avoiding eating before bedtime
Allow a gap of at least two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime. This helps ensure proper digestion and reduces the likelihood of acid reflux while lying down.
Putting this into practice
The guidance above will get you off to a good start when it comes to managing the symptoms of GERD, reflux and heartburn. If you have tried some or all of these ideas in the past, that’s a sign you would benefit from personalised nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
When working with me, I will help you understand what might be the possible causes of your symptoms and discuss functional laboratory testing with you to test for associated conditions that might be making your reflux worse (such as a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO). I also help you make appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle, which can you effectively manage your condition.
If you would like a more personalised approach to help with your reflux, book your complimentary discovery call to see how we can work together.