What To Do About Acid Reflux

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I’ve had a lot of questions from people about acid reflux and what can be done about it. I’m gonna share what I’ve learned from having acid reflex for over 20 years and seeing many, many doctors.

So acid reflex is no fun, as I’m sure you’re aware. It can affect lots of aspects of your life.

I’m gonna share some diet and lifestyle changes that can make a big difference for your quality of life.

I’m not a doctor or a gastroenterologist, but I’ve spoken to many of them over the past couple of decades to get the best advice possible.

Always check with a doctor first, to get a diagnosis and for any modifications they suggest.

Acid Reflux And Exercise

I’m also gonna talk about acid reflex and exercise and how you might be able to modify your workouts and still achieve your fitness goals.

Symptoms Of Acid Reflux

So acid reflex may present as heartburn around that stomach area. The acid is being pushed up from the stomach up into the esophagus, could be an acid taste in the mouth. Some people like myself also experience soreness in the throat and coughing.

Those are two things that happen to me.

It was only in the last few years that I discovered that the nighttime coughing that I was having was related to my acid reflex. A lot of times people don’t associate that with GERD.

I often get the feeling that something is stuck or that my voice is a little bit ho I can hear it now, actually, and that is from my reflex. You may also experience burping or hiccups and just feeling like your meal is coming back up.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Now, GERD, which I suffer from is gastroesophageal reflex disease. So this is sort of the chronic form of acid reflex. That means that you have it on an ongoing basis.

Practically everybody experiences acid reflex. At some point. Anyone who has a very large meal may feel that typical heartburn or the pain in the stomach that is reflex. Now, there are a lot of different causes of acid reflex, and it may be genetic in some people, the lower esophageal sphincter is just a little bit loose or defective.

And that LES is supposed to prevent acid from coming back up.

GERD is actually quite common. 10 to 20% of people suffer from this. Some people are undiagnosed.

Dietary Recommendations For Acid Reflux

I’m gonna talk about what you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat. And a lot of surprising lifestyle tips along the way smaller meals are recommended. A large meals can place more pressure and then force the acid backup.

Don’t Lie Down After Eating

It’s also important that when you eat, you don’t lie down immediately afterward, generally about three hours after a meal is how long you should wait before lying down.

Now this can be really tricky. Most people don’t even think about it, but for someone like me, who’s had reflex for a long time. I constantly have to think about, oh, am I gonna have to lie down? If I go to a dentist appointment, I need to make sure I’ve eaten three hours prior.

Otherwise I’m gonna have a reflux issue.

Don’t Eat Before Exercise

The same applies to exercise.

So it’s generally better not to have anything in your stomach for three hours before some people can fuel up right before an exercise. But if you suffer from absolute reflex, you probably wanna make sure you have a big enough gap between your meal and your workout.

Nutrition Changes For GERD

So in terms of general nutrition changes, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that people with GERD limit their intake of chocolate, alcohol, citrus, and tomato products, fat coffee, tea. Basically anything with caffeine.

Smoking can also cause acid reflex or make it worse.

So I’m gonna go through those nutrition recommendations in a bit more detail.

Because for some people, they are an issue and for others they’re not. And the foods themselves are not the cause of acid reflux, but if you’re susceptible, they may make your condition worse.

Caffeine

So we’ll start with caffeine.

Caffeine sources tend to be acidic and caffeine has been shown in research to lessen the pressure of the LES, which we talked about. So that means that it’s gonna release more acid.

Alcohol And Acid Reflux

Alcohol is also very acidic and it’s been shown to loosen the LES as well.

Certain choices of alcohol are better than others. Wine can be quite acidic.

Beer is a little better and things like vodka are a little bit less acidic.

Fried And Fatty Foods

Fried and fatty foods are generally not a great idea anyway, but they can be a real problem for reflux. They cause the LES to relax and they can also delay stomach emptying. So your stomach is holding that food there longer, which gives it more time to reflex back up again.

For me, fried food is just, it’s one of those almost no-go. Almost ever, because I know that I’m gonna taste that for hours afterwards. But it might not be an issue for you.

Processed meats may also be a trigger.

Smaller amounts of healthy oils and fats are still okay, but you don’t wanna have a large quantity at once.

Citrus Fruit And Tomatoes

Citrus fruits and tomatoes are very acidic. So things like lemons, limes, oranges can be quite hard for someone who suffers from heartburn.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can also irritate the stomach. I always say that I love spicy foods, but they really don’t love me.

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks can also be a problem because they contain citric acid. So again, they’re acidic and that’s not something that you wanna add when you have reflux. And the carbonation can cause digestive issues for some people as well. So if you find yourself burping quite frequently, it may be because you’re taking in too much carbonation and you might wanna cut back.

Vinegar And Acid Reflux

Vinegar is something that you might wanna watch out for. It’s not on the official list from most gastroenterologists, but it is quite acidic. And some people will suffer myself included.

Mint And Acid Reflux

mint and peppermint tea are often considered good for your digestion, but it can cause reflux.

Garlic And Onions

Garlic and onions can also loosen the LES and they can be an irritant to the stomach.

For me, garlic and onions are probably the worst. As much as I love the taste, I really can’t have them.

Safe Foods For Acid Reflux

So here are some foods that are safe for acid reflux.

Lean Meats

Lean meats are what you should usually be eating. If you have reflux, fatty meats are harder to digest and because they contain a lot of fat. They’re gonna be sitting in your stomach for longer. So leaner meats, chicken fish, Turkey, pork are better for reflux.

Non-Acidic Fruits

Nonas acidic fruits are actually good for people who suffer from acid reflux. So bananas, melons, cantaloupe, guava, or papaya.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is high in fiber and good for your digestion, but it helps to neutralize acid as well.

Sometimes when you’re really suffering from acid reflux, plain foods like crackers or potatoes can be a real. They just help neutralize that acid a little bit.

Eggs And Acid Reflux

If you suffer from acid reflux, egg whites are a better choice than egg yolks.

Although most of the nutrition in the egg is found in the yolk. So I always say try to have some yolks and then a little bit more in terms of egg whites. So that means you’ll be higher in protein and a bit lower in fat.

Dairy And Acid Reflux

Dairy is little bit of a tricky one when it comes to acid reflux. While dairy can delay gastric emptying. So that means that the food is in there for longer. So it’s more likely to come back up.

Dairy can also neutralize acid. And for myself personally, I’ve found yogurt is really great. When I have a bad boat of acid reflex, it helps cool things a little bit. It really does feel good, but for some people it won’t be ideal. So it’s best to check for yourself.

Lifestyle Changes For GERD And Acid Reflux

And now let’s move on to some lifestyle changes for GERD or acid reflux.

Walking After Meals

It’s a good idea to go for a walk after your meals, particularly any meals that are a bit larger, it has been shown to reduce the acid a little bit.

Chew Gum After Meals

Chewing gum after meals has also been shown to reduce the acid.

Wear Loose Clothing

This is the one that I always go for. I really hate high wasted pants because they’re tight. Anything that constricts you, if you’re wearing super tight jeans or, or anything like that, it’s more likely to push things upward.

So stick to loose and comfortable clothing. Particularly if you’re reflux been aggravated.

Weight Loss And Acid Reflux

Weight loss can be an important part of reducing your acid reflux.

Obesity is a major risk factor for good. Obviously not everybody who has good is obese, but if you are obese or overweight, it may help reduce your symptoms.

Elevate The Head Of Your Bed

Another thing to try is elevating the head of your bed.

So if you you’ve got some four by four blocks, you can just stick them underneath the head of the bed. The idea is that when you’re sleeping, you’re on a slight angle. So not as much acid comes back up.

Exercise Guidelines For Acid Reflux

Now I’m gonna go into some exercise guidelines for acid reflux. And I think this is really important. I’ve given a lot of thought to it because I was an athlete competing in karate for many years. And I also am, have always been physically active. So it’s something that I’ve had to deal with and make accommodations for my acid reflux.

Avoid High Impact Activities

Things like plyometrics, skipping rope, they’re not ideal for acid reflux. They cause the acid to come back up. So of course, if you love your high impact exercise, it’s very hard to give it up. I don’t run anymore because of this.

Although occasionally if I’m outside playing with my son, then we’ll run around. But I don’t do it as a regular part of my workouts because as I do find that regularly running makes my reflex worse.

Avoid Very Heavy Weight Training Or Exercising In the Horizontal Position

Weight training can also be a challenge for people with good. When my reflux is acting up, I have to be very careful, really heavy lifts place. A lot of pressure on the stomach. The intraabdominal pressure starts to push things up when your symptoms are acting up, it’s best not to do any exercise in the lying down position.

So no bench pressing or chest pressing or even yoga. Those type of things are not useful when you’ve got acid reflux being in an inverted position for any reason, isn’t really a great idea because you’re basically just letting that acid come right up. That’s not to say that you have to give these things up permanently, but when your symptoms are bad, it’s often a good idea to adjust.

Making Exercise Adjustments With Acid Reflux

I usually make modifications to my weight training. When my symptoms get worse, I’ll only do weight training in the standing position or a slight incline rather than doing anything lying down. And then when things improve again, I go back to doing the regular routine.

Stress Management

One thing that can be important for some people is stress management. A lot of people suffer from more acid reflex when they’re under stress.

I haven’t found that to be the case for myself. I’m often in a very relaxed time and all of a sudden I’m gonna experience those reflex symptoms. If it is the case for you though, try to find some ways of managing stress, whether that’s exercise, particularly walking for people with acid reflex is probably ideal.

There are breathing exercises you can do, or you can try meditation as well.

Medication For GERD And Acid Reflux

Traditional treatment for GERD tends to be proton pump inhibitors. Those medications reduce the acid in your stomach and hopefully reduce your symptoms as well.

I haven’t had any luck with these, although I have tried, if you’re one of these people who benefits from them, then there’s no need to feel bad about that. If this medication can help you.

Obviously there may be side effects and there may be some long term concerns, but every medication has to undergo a risk benefit analysis for you. Honestly, if I could find a PPI that for me, I would probably take it. If it meant that I never had to have acid reflex symptoms.

Acupuncture For Acid Reflux

Again, acupuncture is sometimes used for acid reflux. The scientific evidence is fairly weak on this front, but if it becomes your method of relaxation, for instance, if you enjoy the process, then it may be helpful. If you suffer from acid reflex, believe me, I know how you feel. I know how it can affect the quality of your life.

Hopefully some of the tips that I’ve provided can help reduce your symptoms.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 7-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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