Acid reflux affects between 25 to 40% of Americans, and GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux, affects over 20% of adults on a daily or weekly basis. GERD is a more severe case of acid reflux and is often referred to as heartburn. Many factors can contribute to GERD, and there are a few key strategies to keep in mind while tackling this issue for yourself. We discussed holistic strategies for how to manage GERD with Dr. Zach Borman, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Check out his recommendations below.
- Manage stress & anxiety: Stress plays a huge role in many of the key processes within our bodies, and too much stress can cause unpleasant gut symptoms. Tune into your stress levels and try some stress-relieving activities like meditation, yoga, or journaling.
- Prioritize sleep: Getting sufficient sleep is a crucial part of maintaining healthy stress levels and keeping your indigestion in check. Quality is just as important as quantity, so try implementing some sleep-promoting strategies like no screens 2 hours before bed, setting your room to a cool temperature, and using an eye mask or earplugs to avoid interruptions in the night.
- Move your body: Acid reflux can worsen as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, so move your body mindfully. Taking daily walks can both encourage movement throughout the day and ease stress in some individuals.
- Avoid processed and inflammatory foods: Many processed foods can contribute to inflammation and ultimately irritate the gut. Foods that are high in sugar, unhealthy fats and oils, alcohol, coffee, and even spicy foods can all trigger gut symptoms and discomfort.
- Consider NSAIDs and PPIs: The stomach lining is extremely sensitive, and many NSAIDs block an enzyme that is meant to protect the lining of the stomach. PPIs can often improve symptoms of acid reflux but do not treat the root cause, so talk to your doctor before considering.
- Manage your meals: Eating too much at one time can often make symptoms of GERD worse. Focus on easy-to-digest foods like broths, well-cooked vegetables, and healthy fats. Chew your food well since digestion starts in the mouth, and focus on smaller meals.
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Take a daily probiotic that your practitioner recommends to add healthy bacteria and to balance the digestive tract.
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