Are you one of the 60 million Americans who experience acid reflux? It used to be primarily an issue for those over 50, but it now is seen in every race, gender and adult age group. No matter the demographics, I’m guessing that your primary concern is to extinguish the pain.
Why does it hurt so much? That would be the digestive juices from your stomach getting into your esophagus, which lacks the mucosal lining that protects your stomach. Without that lining, juices that pop up through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) damage the tissue in your esophagus.
So what’s a person to do?
Eat Smaller Amounts More Often
Sometimes our LES gets blown open by the volume of food we try to cram into our bellies. Yes, your stomach will stretch, but only so far. Research shows digestion can be improved when smaller meals are eaten 4 times a day. I’m not recommending that you “graze” through the day. Your body needs a break from the process of digestion too.
Stop Eating Foods That Cause LES Spasms
This is a big one. If you struggle with regular GERD or acid reflux, consider giving your body a break from these: cooked tomatoes, citrus juices, coffee, soda, alcohol, chocolate, peppery or spicy foods, fried foods, and mint (think toothpaste, gum, breath mints or tea). Continuing to consume these and just pop a pill is likely to turn into serious disease some day.
Fix Your Magnesium Deficiency
Low magnesium is prominent in America and can cause muscles to be too tight or spasm – including your LES. If you struggle with constipation, irritability, headaches, leg spasms or tight muscles, start with magnesium. 400mg is a good starting level.
Don’t eat Within 3 Hours of Bedtime
During sleep our muscles – including our LES – relax a little, so reflux can be worse at night. When you eat and go to bed before the food is fully digested, you are more likely to experience reflux. You will sleep better with an empty stomach.
If these tips don’t provide relief, it’s time to rule out other physiological drivers of chronic reflux. Don’t settle for suffering, or for a medication that will harm you long term. Nobody knows your body better than you. If things aren’t right, keep pressing for answers. There could be H Pylori, food sensitivities, insufficient stomach acid, or a hiatal hernia at play. I’ve worked with several clients to resolve acid reflux and would be glad to help you extinguish the pain.