Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) also known as heartburn or reflux is a very common digestive complaint among Australians.
It occurs when the contents of your stomach make their way back into the oesophagus, creating that unpleasant, burning feeling that starts in the pit of your stomach travelling up towards the throat.
Nutrition can play an important role in managing your symptoms, especially in the early stages.
It is important to remember that each person’s gut is as unique as their facial features, for this reason trigger food vary from person to person.
Reflux can be triggered by a number of foods including coffee, alcohol, citrus fruit and juices, chocolate, peppermint, carbonated beverages and high-fat foods such as hamburgers, cream-based curries or pasta sauces and pastries or fried foods.
There is evidence to suggest a good intake of protein at each meal can help lower gastrin secretions and increase oesophageal sphincter pressure, which reduces the amount of stomach contents escaping into the oesophagus.
This doesn’t mean you have to have a steak at every meal.
Instead try a few nuts, small amounts of dairy or even add a boiled egg to your breakfast or lunch.
Spearmint, caffeine, garlic, onions, chocolate and peppermint actually has the opposite effect to protein.
These food increase gastrin and increase lower sphincter pressure and as a result are notorious for flaring up symptoms.
Yes - that means your after-dinner mint may be the cause of your reflux and not the actual meal itself.
Drinking and meal times
Reducing the amount of fluids consumed during a meal can help ease reflux.
Avoiding drinking water or over beverages for at least 20-30 minutes before and after a meal, this reduces abdominal distension and can improve symptoms in some people.
You could also try finishing a meal with sugar free gum, as chewing promotes saliva production, which has been linked to a reduction in reflux symptoms that can occur post meals.
Finally, avoid the three Cs of beverages to help minimise the intensity of reflux symptoms - carbonated, caffeinated and citrus juices.
Good sleep hygiene
- Reflux is notorious for negatively impacting people’s sleeping patterns but there are a few tips you can implement to prevent reflux from keeping you up all night:
- Avoid eating anything three to four hours before bed.
- Elevate the head of your bed or prop your head and shoulders up with an extra pillow.
- Try and reduce your stress levels before bed, as stress is one of the most common triggers for reflux- this could be meditation, reading a good book or running a timed diffusor.
If your symptoms persist always talk to a trained dietitian, doctor or pharmacist about your options.