Lose the weight and lessen your heartburn. That's the basic message that researchers gleaned from a recent study conducted at the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine. The researchers tracked the effects of weight loss in patients who had a persistent form of heartburn known as gastroesophogeal reflux disease, or GERD. They concluded that even moderate weight gain can contribute to the problem.
Heartburn, which affects more than 60 million Americans, is characterized by a burning, painful pressure around the middle of the chest. The discomfort is caused when stomach juices, which are full of acid, flow backward, up into the esophagus. GERD, the more frequent, chronic form of heartburn, can lead to complications if left untreated, including a narrowing of the esophagus or precancerous changes in the esophageal lining.
Because heartburn is so common pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars each year advertising prescription and over-the-counter antacids and other medications. The latest study advises people to ditch the drugs and hit the gym. "If you lose weight, you will have improvements in your reflux symptoms," said the study's authors.
The study concluded that any amount of excess body fat increases the risk for heartburn. Although the exact reason is not certain, researchers theorize that surplus fat around the belly may create increased pressure against your stomach, which could cause digestive juices to rise up. An all-natural heartburn remedy such as IVL's Relacid could be your best gym partner.
Here are some other steps you can take to cope with heartburn while you are working on your weight-loss plan:
Avoid your triggers: Every person who suffers from heartburn knows that certain foods trigger symptoms, or make them worse. Figure out your triggers and avoid those foods altogether. (Some people find that they are able to reintroduce those foods into their diets after they lose the excess weight that predisposes them to heartburn.)
Don't eat at night: Make sure your evening meal is not too close to bedtime. Stop eating at least two to three hours before bedtime so that your stomach has a chance to empty before you lie down.
Change sleeping position: Put a few wood blocks under your bed to raise the head about six inches. The slight change in sleeping position helps reduce the frequency of nighttime heartburn symptoms.
Don't smoke: Smoking reduces the function of the muscle that keeps acids in the stomach, making them more likely to back up into the esophagus.
Embrace natural remedies: Many of the prescription and over-the-counter remedies contain ingredients with unpleasant, and sometimes serious, side effects. Long-term use of some of these medications can lead to loss of bone density and an increased risk for certain infections.
*BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENT, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER LICENSED HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL TO DETERMINE IF IT'S APPROPRIATE FOR YOU. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.